It was February 24, 2011, on a cold snowy morning when I drove down the steep drive of my beautiful mountain home I had grown to love. I looked around at the incredible scenery. I could see the Arabian horses across the street, the pine trees covered in a blanket of glistening snow surrounding the property, and the road side Aspen trees standing proud as their leaves fluttered in the wind. This would be the last time that I would be a part of it.
I had minimal luggage, a full tank of gas, and my 100 lb Labrador, Lucky in the back. With tears streaming down my face and my shoulders slumped forward with anguish, my long journey home had just begun – A trail of tears that would include exactly 1,176 miles of hazardous winter driving through five states. I was leaving my husband, my marriage, and the only life that I had known the last ten years. I felt defeated yet determined.
In the last year I had been picked apart in a manner that left me feeling anything but adequate. From my looks, my beliefs, where I came from, it had all been fair game presented unscrupulously to justify one’s actions, and it had taken a toll on me. Through the process I had forgotten my own self worth and now found myself on the clearance rack where I had been sitting way too long. Had I stayed, I too would eventually disrespect this person and if I couldn’t respect myself, who could. I had people. I had people who depended on me, who looked up to me, who loved me. I was heading home.
It was on this long treacherous road trip, and somewhere in Kansas, that I began the healing process. Through all of the tears, when I was feeling my absolute lowest, full of self doubt and completely defective, I would reflect on who I was, where I came from, the pride I took in my manners and presentation. I’m strong I thought, I can handle this, I’ve survived more, I’m better than this – I’m confident. I’m proud to be who I am, where I’m from, – I’m a beautiful person. I know me better than anyone else. I know who I am – a strong, confident, beautiful American woman! Every time the self doubt returned, I would remind myself who I am….strong, confident, beautiful! And then, on the other side of St Louis, I had wiped my face and dried my tears. A few hours later, I was back home again in Indiana, with my shoulders back and my head held high. As I watched Lucky jump out of the car in relief with a smile only a Labrador could wear, I looked at the house and realized that the humbled process was just beginning, but I had taken the first and most difficult step. Out of it came the words of courage that I have grown to love and share – I am a Strong, Confident, Beautiful Woman.