The One Woman Army Lie
The first tattoo I ever got was a lie.
I mean, hear me out, because it felt like a truth at the time. I remember making a rather lengthy list of potential tattoos, all words (even then, I was a writer, obsessed with the power of words), most all of them song lyrics (music, as I’ve mentioned before, has always been the way my Higher Power has spoken to me - music reaches a part of my soul that nothing else does). Standing just outside Tenhoor, the building on the UA campus where I took all my classes for my History major, Jessica and I perused the list, and we both agreed that this one was THE one.
“One Woman Army.”
It’s a quote from one of my all-time favorite musicians, Ani Difranco, and it felt true at the time.
I had just come out of the most toxic relationship I had YET experienced. Looking back, that relationship, as sick and messed up as it was, feels like “small potatoes” compared to what was to come my way. Still, it was bad enough. Bad enough to make me totally lose myself. I had never questioned my worth, until him. I never doubted whether or not I was enough on my own, until him. I never felt like my identity ceased to exist apart from another human, until him. And I never looked in the mirror and hated what I saw, until him. So, yeah, it was bad enough.
Coming out of that relationship, I didn’t know who I was anymore, but I had friends there to remind me. I didn’t know what my future looked like anymore because I made the mistake of only imagining one that included him in it. But my friends and my family were there, holding my hand and helping me to imagine new things, new futures.
And, yeah, I had to fight really, REALLY hard through a lot of darkness in my head, darkness that he gave me, darkness I never wanted. And I did have to pull myself through a lot, but I did NONE of it on my own. Still, when I came out of it, and was back to feeling like myself again, this tattoo idea spoke to me. I had always been a “strong,” independent person so, when I temporarily lost my way and then finally re-circled, it felt appropriate.
The further into life I got, the more insane circumstances I survived and fought through, the more this tattoo began to feel less like my truth. Now, when I look at it, I kind of just laugh at the very naïve early-college-aged version of myself. I still like it – I mean, I still love Ani and I still love this song. But now, this tattoo serves more as a reminder that I’m never alone . . . and that I never was. It reminds me of the incredible relationships I’ve had in my life on which I’ve been able to lean when the burden felt just a little too heavy and my legs a little too shaky. It reminds me of the army behind the army.
The night of the FAB event that we attended for Goddessté, we met some truly inspiring, amazing women, and we had some truly inspiring, amazing conversations. One of these women stuck around for a while, allowing the conversation to stretch and grow into deeper levels of discussion, the way conversations tend to do when people are sharing in an honest and real way.
J and I shared with her some of the trials we’d faced – they’re a big part of Goddessté, you see, because they’re a big part of us and the “why” of our business. When we were talking about the depths of my addiction, she said something that stuck with me. With a sincere face that relayed a genuine amazement, she said, “But so many people, most people, never make it out when it’s that bad. How did you? How did you ever make it out of that?”
I started to answer, but something happened that brought the conversation around to its end. We were, after all, at a business event – there were people everywhere and we needed to tend to their needs as well. She understood, and the conversation ended with us exchanging cards and promising to get in touch.
On the drive home, her unanswered question echoed in my head. “But so many people, most people, never make it out when it’s that bad. How did you ever make it out…?”
So many people. . .
Most people. . .
And she was right. It’s heartbreaking on a gut-wrenching level how right she was. I’ve buried “so many people” whom I loved and lost to this disease. And I kept thinking of my answer – what was my answer?
The answer looks something like this, I suppose: with a WHOLE lotta’ grace and a WHOLE lotta’ love, a WHOLE lotta’ help that I didn’t necessarily deserve, and a WHOLE lotta' prayer. My family, my friends, my HUSBAND – they all, at times, played their parts in literally PULLING me out of addiction’s grip, prying the hands of addiction from around my throat, and hoisting me up on my feet, letting me lean on them when the burden felt too heavy, my legs too shaky. Those people, my heroes, loved me enough to say, “Not today. We will NOT give up this fight – we will not give up on her. Not today, and not tomorrow, either.”
And you know who was working through them? God. My God is powerful, y’all. My Creator never gave up on me. Not for a second. Even when I turned my head away from the miracles that were literally IN MY FACE, the miracles kept coming. And I didn’t always understand it. There are still things about it that I don’t understand, but motherhood & Goddessté have provided so much clarity on this issue for me.
The night the initial idea for Goddessté came to me, it was like fireworks going off in my head. My brain was suddenly taken over with idea after idea after idea. I was shaking all over. The first person I went to, was my husband. Even my voice was shaking. This is what happens to me when something bigger is at work in my life, like BIG “bigger” kind of things. This has only ever happened maybe three times. It all came to me so fast that I was having trouble even finding the words to articulate what I was trying to say, getting the vision that was in my head out of my mouth through using words. This is NOT something that happens to me often.
Of course, the next person I went to was Jessica, and it quickly took on the life I believe it was meant to take on – it began evolving and becoming Goddessté. But that first night, that fireworks show in my head, I believe that that was God giving it to me. He was giving me my other PURPOSE.
I knew my whole life that I was waiting on something else. Goddessté was that thing, and I knew it from the very first “firework.” I believe, with every ounce of my being, that that was God nudging me, saying, “Okay, Katie. It’s time. It’s time to use it all. USE IT. Tell your story. Share your truth. HELP OTHER WOMEN. You’ve wondered why you for so long. You’ve wondered, for so long, why I kept showing up. Well, now you know. Tell them about the addiction, the hopelessness, the sexual assaults, the rape, the beatings, the emotional abuse, the death, the overdose, the suicides, the emptiness. Tell them about it all, and then tell them what I did for you. It’s time.”
Now you know…
The funny thing is this: when Goddessté was born, I believed, as I had believed for so long, that there was a higher power at work in my life and in the universe, a “greater power” working for the “greater good.” I believed that it wasn’t important for me to know what that power was, that it didn’t need an identity. I just needed to know it was there and lean into it. I believed it called me to demonstrate love and kindness every day, and that it called me to be a good person. I believed that being a truly good person was enough.
Lately, and I mean very recently, my heart has started to change. I have felt a pull toward Jesus, specifically. I’m someone who didn’t EVER expect this to happen, so for those of you who find this strange, trust me when I tell you: I get it. I always admired the historical figure, Jesus of Nazareth, and even felt a connection to him. But this pull was toward Jesus in a deeply spiritual way – like, “Jesus is my homeboy” kind of way.
My beliefs have started to change, too. I still believe that I’m called to be kind, compassionate, and loving toward others – I still believe that I’m called to be a good person. But I no longer believe that that is enough.
I think God saved me, through the beautiful people in my life, my greatest blessings. I think He did that, and then He gave me Goddessté. And just before He gave me Goddessté, He brought Jessica and me back together. He gave me back my best friend, my person, my soul friend, because I am only half of what Goddessté was meant to be, and she was always the other half.
He saved me – He saved us. And I believe He has been tugging at my heartstrings recently because telling the stories of how I was saved time and time again isn’t enough. It’s time for me to share WHO was doing the saving.
For those of you with your jaws completely dropped, those who are wondering what this means . . . I’m not even exactly sure myself. I’m still me. I’m just me with a new, refined purpose. I’m not on any holier-than-thou journey. Y’all know me, and that just ain’t me. I AM on a journey, though, to seek the truth, my truth.
And there’s a WHOLE lot for me to learn. There’s also a WHOLE lot I may never know or that may never make sense, and that used to be the main thing that scared me away and turned me off. But I can’t keep denying the miracles that have taken root in my life. I don’t have to understand all the details, but I cannot deny the miracles. It’s that simple.
It’s kind of like when my daughters, the twins, want me to pick them up because they want to push the buttons on the microwave. They’re fascinated by it – they don’t know how it works, but they know that, when they press a number and then the green “Start” button, the light comes on, and that light ignites a ridiculous joy within them. It’s like that here: I’m not sure how it works, but I’ve been pulled, and I mean PULLED, seemingly out of nowhere (and this isn’t the first time) to press that green “Start” button so I can watch the light come on and feel that joy and wonder within my spirit.
I’m REALLY new at this, and I definitely don’t have the answers. There are still several things about organized religion that I find hard to swallow. But, for now, I’m going to follow this pull, because I think I’d be a fool not to. And I plan to continue telling y’all about all the crazy things from which I’ve been saved, the situations I’ve survived, the people who pulled me out of the darkest misery I’ve ever known (more than once), and the God who was there through it all, pulling the strings, lighting the way, loving me in my brokenness because He believed in what I could do once the pieces had been reassembled.
And, tonight, I’m so grateful that I don’t have to be a “one woman army,” because I simply wasn’t ever called to be. And, oh man, thank God for that!
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