vi·ra·go /vəˈräɡō/ noun a woman of strength or spirit; a female warrior.
I always thought of myself as somewhat of a savage, a warrior, someone who....in the face of fear smiled and said, “bring it on” - and I did. Time and time and time again, throughout my entire life, I looked fear in the eye and said, “You hit like a bitch.” At 16 I was stranded in Spain alone with $40 in US cash in my pocket. This was before smart phones and ya know....siri. There was no way to call, no computer search I could do to help. Airports didn’t have charging docks, they had payphones and I could either make a phone call back to my mom in the US, who couldn’t help me, or save the only money I had for taxi-fare to get me to my hotel, that is once my luggage finally arrived to me....24 hours after I landed. Two days after I arrived in Spain, I found out that my dad’s airplane caught fire somewhere over Canada on his way to meet me in Madrid and yet, at no point during the total 72 hours alone in a foreign country with no money and no idea what to do, was I “scared”. At 21, I was working as an Operations Manager for American Eagle and, while making a cash deposit to our bank from the previous sales day, I was standing at the teller when the bank was robbed at gunpoint, just a few feet from my face. I was the over-zealous moron who discreetly pulled out their fancy new LG “Chocolate” phone and dialed 911 while the assailant was right next to me. FYI if your phone dials 911 silently, you can thank myself and anyone else who found out at a less than opportune moment that their early age “smart phones” made a loud, alert sound I can only compare to an alarm clock meeting a foghorn, which resulted in a prompt email to LG and Verizon notifying them of this oversight. The situation wasn’t pretty, and for a split second, I was pretty sure my mother would get a phone call that I’d been shot at point blank range for simply being brave....and yet, I wasn’t scared. Nothing has ever really phased me and I don’t believe I ever truly experienced fear as an adult until the first time I thought my strong, resilient, intelligent, fearless husband had taken his own life as a result of his silent war with PTS.
I don’t believe there are words to describe exactly how I felt in that moment. We’d struggled before, and it was not the first time suicide had been a concern or a topic; I was painfully aware of the statistics and the very, very genuine possibility that we were staring down the barrel of a dark reality. But what do you really do, in that raw, terrifying moment? How do you think with both your heart and your brain, and differentiate between your passionate love for your spouse and your primal instincts as a mother to protect your young? For me, the lines became very blurry, very quickly and ultimately my instincts to protect my children far outweighed my desire to protect my husband. It is only now, years later, after many deeper experiences, that I can identify where my actions were not only fearful, but reactive, and as a result, detrimental.
What our story has taught me, is that to be a warrior wife with children means to be both a warrior mom and wife, simultaneously. It means fighting for the father my children deserve to have just as much as it means fighting for my husband to be the father that he deserves to be; to fight for him to live his life with passion and vigor as opposed to apathy and disdain. I have not always been as strong as I am at this point, there was a time when I said I couldn’t do this anymore, and I left him. It was only after a 16 month separation, a lot of pain, and hundreds, if not thousands of hours of personal growth on both our parts, did I decide that I was strong enough to withstand this life, because my family deserves of me what I deserve to allow myself to become. Only now can I understand what my role in our family truly is and all that it encompasses. I wrote the following vision statement to myself, for myself, but I want to share it with the intent of inspiring you to write your own vision statement, and follow that vision through with an incredible amount of work and passion.
My vision is to become the wife, mother, and woman I would want my daughters to be. By devoting myself fully to my family and to my purpose, I will build unbreakable bonds and a lifetime of enrichment through service, but I will also leave behind a legacy my daughters can be proud of. I will make time for the things that matter most. I will embody a lifestyle of service to others in my community, and I will live with an eternal mission to share this conviction with all those around me. I will continue to build my future with measurable short term goals as well as long term dreams. I will be deliberate with my actions and I will work with confidence. I will support my husband in his journey to his own growth, and I will stand by his side in sickness and in health. I will work endlessly to help others who have walked my path to create their individual definition of happiness, and I will support them in their journey to their own ever after.
A personal vision statement is essentially like writing vows to yourself. If there is one thing I have learned through our struggles above all else, it is that at the end of the day, the only person capable of changing your circumstances is, you. YOU deserve to have the clarity, the energy, the vision, the goals that keep you in the story. You’ve found your tribe, now lean in, you’ve taken the first step by coming here. Allow us to loan you our wings when yours are tired and broken; but once you’ve regained your composure, you have to fly. You have to fly because your warrior, your family, your legacy, depend on it. We are warrior wives, and while our challenges cannot possibly compare to those of our partners, they cannot be neglected, either. Make yourself a priority, put your emotional, mental, and physical health at the top of your to do list because you cannot possibly be strong for your warrior family until you discover the strength you have within.
Pain molds the weak into the warrior if the fight inside is strong enough.
With strength and love to you and yours,
A Warrior Wife