Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself.- Bruce Lee
If you had met me at age 20 you would have said, “The Rawr is strong with that one.” I was passionate and driven with a strong sense of self. I lived, laughed, and loved to the max. In fact, my husband often bragged to people that my fiery disposition was one of the reasons he fell in love with me. I was unapologetically me and damn proud, and I’m sure I couldn’t imagine a time where that wouldn’t be true.
Of course, I didn’t know that like most adults life would start to happen at an alarming rate. Long hours of interning, commuting, and working followed by long hours of being a mom and wife were covertly dampening my spark. Most of the time I don’t think I even noticed, and when I did I would just tell myself that I would find time to feed my passions later.
Fast forward to me at age 28: Separated from my husband and living in my friend’s spare room with my 2-year-old son, and soon to find out that I was pregnant with another. I was broken and sad, and I could not understand how my life got to such a point. I grieved my marriage and felt absolutely powerless to save it. I would stand on the porch dropping off my son, and wonder how I could struggle to find words with a man I had shared my entire adult life with. Of course, what words we did find were often screamed at each other and punctuated with cursing and doors slamming. It felt so chaotic, so out of control. I wanted to be happy, but I was afraid of what that might mean. I felt the need to Rawr way down deep, but it never managed to make it out into the world without being drowned by tears.
And then my Rawr light-bulb moment happened. My husband and I were reeling from yet another knock-down, drag-out fight when he called me. I found the words “I want a divorce” coming out of my mouth. In the moment of silence that followed I think we both realized that I wasn’t bluffing or speaking in anger. I meant it. The strangest thing is that I always assumed speaking those words would be devastating and life shattering. Instead I found myself feeling somehow liberated. I wasn’t afraid anymore. I was making a choice based on what I wanted and needed, and suddenly I could breathe again. My Rawr had finally bubbled up to the surface. That’s when the truth hit me; if I wanted to be happy, I needed to be true to myself again. No more fear, no more people pleasing, and no more burying my needs and passions in favor of the needs of others.
So I started to live for me. I reconnected with friends I had neglected, I listened to old albums I hadn’t dusted off since college, and I started to find opportunities to really live. I was rebuilding me, and it felt so damn good. And along the way I somehow found myself reconnecting with my husband. We took baby steps at first, and slowly trust and communication started to form again. What developed was a commitment from both of us to work on saving our marriage, but to equally work on ourselves. It wasn’t going to be enough to fight for the bigger picture if the smaller pieces weren’t healthy and happy.
The icing on my Rawr rediscovery cake was discovering roller derby. I dove in and found myself surrounded by strong, determined, passionate women who were excited to have me as part of their sisterhood. I discovered that I could be “Erin- wife and mother of 2,” but that I could also be “Shove & Tell, #22, the bringer of merciless low blocks.” It felt amazing to rediscover the athletic, fierce self that I thought was long buried in my youth.
In the past year I have lived, laughed, and loved so hard. I found my passion and spark again, and this time it’s not something I take for granted. I know it’s a fire that needs to be fed as often as I can. So I love my children fiercely and allow myself to be silly and fun, I connect with my husband and let myself be vulnerable and in love, I rock out to good music, I connect with friends, and I unleash my roller derby bad-ass whenever possible. I always thought I would grieve the end of my 20s as the end of the best years of my life, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the best is yet to come.
#Erin (aka Shove & Tell #22)