March is National Women's History Month and the theme is Women Weaving Stories of Women's Lives. I'm sharing the story of a different woman from my books every day in March. Meet Kate Reynolds.
I look at this picture, at the crooked boardwalk that has a vague destination and I think that sums up my story. I'm Kate Reynolds and, until I was fifty-two, my path was straight and sure and I knew exactly where I was going. And I believed that was a good thing. Now, in retrospect, my life was boring.
I worked in the same place for over thirty years. Sure, my job description changed and I moved up in pay scale and title, and I managed to convince myself I was really going somewhere. To the top. What can I say--we all have our illusions. I walked in one day to learn I'd been downsized, and not in the way we women generally wish to downsize.
With a very brief marriage and divorce in my past, both
parents deceased and my younger sister living across the state, I found myself feeling like a rudderless boat set adrift in a threatening ocean. I did what most women would do in my situation and I refuse to apologize for it--I ate ice cream and potato chips and then I crawled under the blankets and hid from the world.
Let me ask you this: Do you have a best girlfriend? You know the kind--the ones that know you better than you know yourself. The ones who call you on your rationalizations and denial and fear? In other words, the ones who recognize your bullshit. The ones who tell you the truth at the risk of hurting your feelings, then hold you while you cry. Yeah, well I have one of those. Actually, I was blessed with two of them. Terri and Lucy. Both are strong, self-possessed women who, if asked, would probably describe me in the same way. But I felt anything but strong and self-possessed when I was unceremoniously dumped from my career. Okay, so it was a job. But it was my job. Oh, I had enough money to live on for a while and I own my house. It wasn't about how I would live, it was about who I was now. The realization that my sense of self-worth could be so easily compromised scared the hell out of me.
I managed to avoid Terri and Lucy for almost a week before Terri showed up, key in hand, to let herself into my house and kick my ass for me. That's another thing best girlfriends do for us. They give us that good swift kick we need to get us moving again in the right direction. Terri reminded me of who I am and of a dream I'd long ago abandoned. She made me realize that this crisis I was in also presented an opportunity if I'd dare to embrace it. What is it about following our dreams that demands taking so many risks?
In any case, I pulled myself up by my sandal straps and took off in pursuit of that dream. I thought it was as simple as moving on--new location, new people, new work. Ha! You've heard the saying, "The truth will set you free." Well, trust me, it's not as easy as it sounds. No one tells you what you have to go through to get to that truth, or truths as in my case.
I can tell you this: I liked the woman I was before my crisis. I love the woman I am now, the woman whose mettle was tested and tried and proven. In the end, I'd have to say the truth did set me free (with a little help from my friends.) My life is rich and full to bursting.
You can read my story in And The Truth Will Set You Free. (Also in paperback at www.wingsepress.com.)