Give up or Show up

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I am the proverbial woman at the well. I am married for the fourth time. I have always contended with self- image and self-worth issues. The girl in the mirror was always found wanting.  She was never smart enough, pretty enough, or skinny enough. Being 4’ 10” you would think that I would have a problem with being too short, but that was my key to attention. I grew up with two brothers and great parents, wanting to be the best “boy.

”I was never satisfied with what I was, always striving to be better at what I thought I could be.

Even if it was something I wasn’t, like a boy.

I went to college but realized it wasn’t for me. So, I got married. Yes, just like that I found a guy. Got him to ask me out and six months later we were married. It was perfect until it wasn’t. We were friends but I was not what he needed nor was he what I needed. I thought having a baby would make life perfect; it didn’t. I have an amazing daughter but adding another person does not solve the problems. We were both the problem. One night I decided enough was enough so I asked him to leave. By 6:00 am the next morning all of his stuff was packed and ready for him. No discussion, I was done. No looking back.

Fast forward three years of dating someone else. I guilted him into a proposal and married again. He had serious issues, but I could fix anything; no problem.

He loved me and would change. My choice; not his.

So, we divorced.

My parents were the foundation of my life. When my father died quickly of cancer, I could not handle life alone without a man. I found a much younger one and got him to ask me out. Eight months later we were married. Seven years later things fell apart and we divorced.

Then the craziness started. I began dating someone with two daughters who was going through a divorce. I loved his girls and they adored my daughter. It seemed perfect. After three ugly years battling in the courts, we could finally be together. During those years my mother passed from cancer. I lost everything I owned in a fire and quit my job. With my support system gone, I packed up my things and moved to Detroit to be with him. It was a Sunday. He died on Thursday. 

I can’t really tell you what happened during the next few weeks or months. I remember snippets, like calling his ex-wife to tell her that he was dead from a heart attack. I remember her showing up ordering me out of the house that I thought would be mine. It now belonged to her, not me. I remember sitting in the corner of our bedroom thinking I could not go on. I remember my sister-by-choice moving me in with her in Kansas.

Mostly, I remember my choices were to give up or show up, so I kept showing up.

If you notice my stories are full of “I” because being headstrong does not leave any space for listening or asking for help or advice. Once my life backed me into a corner, I began to listen again. My dearest friends moved me to Denver and I grew close to God.

I kept showing up and my life began to change.

Things begin to change in life. God put someone in my path that had been in my life for many years waiting for me to pay attention. My dearest sister-by-choice made us ‘court.’ We talked for hours on the phone got to know each other. We finally went on a date and have been married thirteen years. Life isn’t perfect, but our love is strong and we work through our issues. 

Sometimes when you feel like you have no choice, you must ‘show up’ every day and move forward, one step at a time, and eventually you find yourself exactly where you were meant to be.   

Written by Paula Baker

Sunny Cain