I've read that opinions are like assholes ... everybody's got one. Here's mine. ( Ahem, my Opinions! Not booty!)

Rebecca

{Many apologies for the delay in posting. A baby was born and distractions have been plentiful ... Rest has not.}

Rebecca | 31 | Life Insurance Case Worker

What has been the toughest lesson you’ve learned?

Learning how to accept who I am today, and respecting what it took to get me here.  I sometimes find myself embarrassed to admit that I dropped out of college to come back to my hometown and marry my high school sweetheart -  only to file for divorce a mere 10 months later.  My family was terribly disappointed and, being the eager-to-please overachiever that I am, I struggled to explain that we realized that we were too young and immature to play house.  Getting divorced at 19 was definitely a mar on my reputation, but getting pregnant at age 20 by my new "bad boy" beau and having to move back in with my parents practically had me blacklisted. Our relationship was tumultuous at best, and there were too many touch-and-go moments to count, but getting married was the right thing to do, so we did just that and welcomed two more children.  During our marriage, we struggled financially and had to rely on help from my parents too many times to count.  There was a time that my dad actually came to my house, right after my daughter was born, and ASKED me to leave my husband. But I couldn't. If I did, it meant that I had failed AGAIN, and failure wasn't an option. So we fought.  He drank.  We called each other names.  He walked out.  There were times that I couldn't even believe that I was living THAT life, that I was THAT woman with three young children who had a verbally-abusive alcoholic husband.  This wasn't supposed to be my story! The day I found out that he had been cheating on me was the happiest day of my life.  His departure allowed me to feel free to become the woman I was meant to be.  Yeah, it still stings a little to say that I've been married twice, especially now that I'm engaged to a wonderful man.  When filling out legal documents, I sometimes cringe when I have to complete the section "Other names you have gone by."  But I've come to grips with the fact that those experiences molded me, strengthened me, and educated me. I know now what I can handle. I know now what I will and will not compromise on. It was a long and tough lesson, but I lived through it and came out better on the other end. 

What insecurity has plagued your life the most?

It may seem like a stereotypical response, but my weight/body image!  I grew up with siblings who look like models; both are tall and thin with dark, gorgeous hair and piercing blue eyes. They were "blessed with good genes," where I was always told, "well Bec, you're just built like your grandmother." Trust me, it wasn't a compliment. I dealt with being chubby through middle school, even though I was pretty active... After all, I lived on a farm and played softball. Freshman year of high school, I tried out for the dance team and made it. During our camp that summer, I lost 15 pounds and was pretty fit from building a lot of muscle. I became a lot more comfortable with my body, but senior year I quit the dance team and gained that weight back. I lost it again when I started college, gained it back when I came home ... The fluctuations were drastic and too common. After having my kids, I ballooned to a whopping 236 lbs., and finally decided I'd had enough and was going to drop the weight. I lost 76 lbs in 16 months. I gained confidence, but was left with some extra saggy skin in my lower midsection that won't go away without surgical intervention. It keeps me from being able to wear a lot of styles I'd like to try. It keeps me from changing clothes in front of my fiancé, for fear that he will see it and somehow not love me anymore. Even though I lost so much weight, I still feel fat because of this extra skin. I'm learning to accept that it is what it is. But I'm still holding out for some plastic surgery in the future. :)

When do you feel vulnerable?

When I show my emotions. I come from a family that doesn't express a lot of emotion; hugs and "I love yous" do not abound. I'm much more open with expressing how I feel than most people I know and interact with daily, so when I  show that emotion, [I feel as though] I'm seen as weak. Which, that really isn't fair. I should be able to express myself the way that's most comfortable to me without fear that I'll be judged for it. 

What do you fear the most?

Because my daughter is just like me, I fear that her life will mimic mine too closely. I don't want her to have body-image issues. I don't want her to feel like she ever has to "tone down" that amazing, effervescent personality. I don't want her to ever feel like she's not good enough or involved enough or popular enough. I don't want her to feel like she constantly has something to prove. I will strive every day to make sure she knows that she is wonderful, that she's loved, that she's beautiful and smart, and that she never has to make apologies for choices she makes as she grows up, as long as SHE feels like they're right for her. I also fear fucking up my upcoming marriage. Statistics say that 65% of marriages fail when both parties have been married previously. I know it doesn't mean we are doomed, but I occasionally find myself reminding myself of that statistic when we argue. 

If you could change one thing in everybody’s mind – what would it be?

Just because someone isn't living their life the way you think they should, it doesn't make them wrong. Worry about your own damn self. Stop judging other people. To the youth of the world, you don't have to grow up and be just like your parents if you don't want to. Stop being "sheeple."  Be a leader. Think freely.  Soon our government, our planet, your children's education will be in YOUR hands.  Don't you want to make it all better?

What are you thankful for?

So much. I'm thankful for healthy children. There was a time that Landon had a very severe infection that doctors feared would go to his brain, and he was in Vanderbilt for three days. When he was discharged and we were getting into an elevator to leave, a father and his young daughter (probably 4) got in behind us. She had no hair or eyebrows and was in her PJs. Obviously cancer stricken, she looked up at her dad and said, "I'm tired, Daddy. Can you hold me?" He swept her up in his arms and held her so delicately, yet in a way that seemed like he'd never let her go.  It was all I could do to fight back my tears. In that moment, I vowed that I would speak peace and health over the lives of my kids daily. The idea that I would ever possibly outlive my children is devastating, so I'm thankful every day for their health. 

What are you (as an individual – children and marriage aside) most proud of?

I'm proud that I finally stood up for myself and stopped apologizing for being who I am: an emotional, over-planning, grammar-Nazi perfectionist. I no longer feel the need to please everyone all of the time. I don't actually care if my family recognizes my achievements, when I used to rely far too heavily on their recognition - and would suffer from supreme disappointment when that didn't happen. It's very freeing to be the best that you can be, and knowing that it's good enough. 

What is, has, or will stop you from pursuing your dreams?

In the past, I've let the input and opinions of others drive me in certain directions that were not beneficial to my overall well-being. When you're a people pleaser by nature, it's too easy to say "yes" and think about the consequences later. Being that kind of person has kept me from doing so much for myself (finishing college, for instance), but I am breaking free from that. Going forward, I'll be able to pursue my biggest dreams without worrying if anyone approves: marrying the best guy in the world, and raising our kids to be kind, open-minded individuals. 

What keeps you motivated to keep going – when the going gets tough?

Knowing that there is always a way out, and it's usually THROUGH the problem.  The end result may not always be ideal, but every day presents new challenges and new opportunities alike. 

Describe what love feels like to you.

Love is that extra little squeeze when you're holding hands. The wink from your child when they realize you're watching them. It's the warm smile that welcomes you home, and spooning in the bed for a few minutes before it's time to start the day. It's seeing someone do a good deed for a stranger, and finding a little more hope for the future. Love is acceptance. 

What is something about yourself that you’ve always tried to hide?

The gap in my teeth! It's not even the kind of diastema (gap in teeth) that adds character, like the kind that are between the two front ones. Nope, it's on the side, which is why I REFUSE to be photographed from the front or left side. I know I should embrace it, but it hasn't always been there. I had braces in high school, but didn't have my wisdom teeth out like the orthodontist suggested. Years later I experienced crowding when the wisdom teeth came through, so I had them removed. I didn't know at the time that I had periodontal disease so my gums were very weak, causing my teeth to move again with the extra space created by the wisdom teeth removal. Thus creating the gap.

If you could share one piece of advice with the world, what would it be?

Just live by the golden rule. Nobody knows what happens after we die; it could be nothing. So spend your life being good to others so that they'll be motivated to pass it on. For no other reason than it's the right thing to do. 

What is your heaviest burden?

Wondering what this world will be like for my future grandchildren. I worry about the planet, school shootings, chemtrails, GMOs, warfare... It plagues me to the point of panic at times. I know it's grossly premature, but sometimes it overtakes me, and I have to remind myself to take one thing at a time. It's been said, "worrying about something that may never happen is like paying interest on money you may never borrow."

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Megan

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