2013 Word for the Year: Freedom

When I saw some blogging friends talking about their “Word for the Year”, I really wasn’t sure I wanted to do something like picking one word as my theme for the year. I don’t “do” New Year resolutions and this kind of seemed like the same thing. But after a couple days of thinking about it, I decided it was something I needed to do, and write. I read something a few days ago. I can’t remember if it was a quote by a writer or just a friend posting a status on Facebook, but it struck me and I’m really struggling with it tonight. I can ‘t remember the exact words, and if you know the quote and who said it, feel free to mention it in the comments.

If there is something that is really hard to write about, that is what you need to be writing.

So, I’m writing. My word for 2013 is FREEDOM.

Freedom from an abusive marriage. I’m not ready to go into details about that yet, but maybe I will be soon.

Freedom to be who I really am. I’ve spent my entire life worrying about disappointing the people around me. I don’t know why. My parents never pushed; they only encouraged. I never felt pressure from them. There was pressure (at least perceived) from others, but never my parents. That didn’t keep me from spending an extraordinary amount of time worrying about disappointing them. Neither of them will be reading this, so I can say this without worrying about hurting their feelings or making them feel guilty (for something which they hold no blame). Many of the decisions I made in my life were based solely on the fact that I didn’t want to disappoint my parents. I’ve come to understand that my parents are strong enough and love me enough to handle anything I do. I’m not a mean person and I love my parents more than words can say, so I would never do anything intentionally that would hurt them. They can handle me being me. I haven’t given them or myself enough credit. But it’s not just my parents; it’s everyone. I’m always more worried about how my decisions are going to affect, or even just appear to, others, but that’s not where my focus needs to be.

I’ve also spent 13 years trying to be the person that one man thought I should be. I have no clue why he married me because there was nothing about me he liked. He criticized and tried to change every single thing about me, from my eye color (“You should get blue contacts”) to the way I dressed to the thoughts in my head. After a certain point, you pretend as much as you can and hide what you can’t. I will no longer hide or pretend to be anyone other than who I am. (Okay, so maybe I did go into a few details.)

Freedom from judgmental people. Not just Christians, although there are certainly enough of those, who when you utter the word “divorce” have to contribute their two cents. But from people who see my children “misbehaving” in the grocery store — those people who have no idea that I have one child with diagnosed special needs and one who isn’t diagnosed but also seems to react strongly to all the stimuli in stores. The bright lights, the colors, the crowds, the smells. They make my kids crazy, and frankly, my kids aren’t hurting anyone or breaking anything, so everyone else can buzz off.

Freedom to help my children learn in the way that best suits their needs. There is no “one-size-fits-all” education, and what works at one age may not work a year later. I will encourage, assist, and introduce new ideas, but I will not force my children to “learn” something before they are ready just because some standardized test maker has decided that kids of a certain age should know certain things. I can encourage my children’s love of learning and still stay within the bounds of the law.

Freedom from fear. Fear that I can’t be what my kids need me to be. Fear that if something happens to me, their dad won’t meet their specific needs. Fear that I can’t live on my own. Fear that I’m not smart enough to make it through college. I’ve spent too many years making decisions based on fear of so many things and I will no longer do so.

Freedom to be who God wants me to be. Because I’ve shut away part of myself for so long, I’ve hidden my God-given talents from myself and the world. Without the voice of a husband that I’m “supposed to be” obeying shouting at me (figuratively and literally) I can really listen to God telling me what he wants me to do and be.

A Word with Friends 2013

This post is part of the Word of the Year Blog Carnival hosted by Marcy at Ben and Me.

If you’ve blogged about your 2013 Word, feel free to leave your link in the comments.