“I want a divorce” was my 25thbirthday gift from my first husband. 

To say I was devastated is an understatement. I loved that man. I loved that man more than he ever deserved! He was abusive, unfaithful, an addict, and the love of my life. I thought I couldn’t live without him. 

Turns out, this birthday gift was the best gift he could ever have given me. He gave me back my freedom, my independence, my life. I wish I could say it was instantaneous. Remembers all good things I had ever learned from my mother. About life. About life on this earth as a human. Not just as a woman, but as a human. The independence I had been taught, the abilities that are always within me, the “you can be whatever you want to be” attitude, and, “men are no better than women”. These took time.

But not as much time as finding my worth. 

What was I worth? Clearly not a lot. I had let a man control me, hurt me, and the little self-worth I had was mostly gone. I knew I deserved better, but I hung in there. I hung in there because I had probably don’t something wrong for him to react in that way. I didn’t do many things right. Just ask my mom. No matter how hard I tried, she was very rarely happy with my accomplishments, and often mocked them. Sounds a lot like the man I married. No matter how hard I tried, I was never good enough. 

The girls and I moved out. We moved on with life, by ourselves, as he chose to not be a part of it. I chose to go back to school at the age of 26 with a 4 year old and a 2 month old. I refused to be another statistic. I needed to care for my girls myself. I needed to teach them you move on and make do. And, always be able to take care of yourself! The independence was back!

The self-worth, not so much. Those years were pretty turbulent and I made a lot of mistakes. I hated myself, but through it all, the love for my girls is what got me through. 

There is a happy ending to this story.

  • I got my Drafting Degree and ended up with a job that paid the bills and allowed me to care for my kiddos all on my own. 
  • That job that paid the bills? It’s also where I met my husband, who is the most wonderful man in the world. And, he’s so much like my dad!
  • My business was born (although many years later) from what I learned about myself as a single mother. 
  • The two children and the wife he left behind have all become amazing women. 
  • I know how much I am loved by God and my family. And, I give myself grace these days for not being perfect. 

Self-worth is exactly that. SELF-worth. We are human…we do things right, we make mistakes, we do great things, we do not so great things, we are liked by some, we aren’t liked by others. I can’t depend on another human to make me feel good about myself. That is my job, and a job I do well at some days, and some days not so well. 

“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”
– Louise L. Hay

Cindy Vanhoff
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