In Weekly Forum Discussion, Writer in Residence

Written by: Collette Cottingham; Creatively Hip

I study people. I have since I was a small child. The women I observed were my role models. I learned how I wanted to behave and how I did not want to behave. I decided the kind of woman I was going to become. By the time I graduated high school I was proud of the woman I had become. I knew I was a role model for others. I was proud I was someone younger girls could look up to.

The women I look up to are not famous people. They are everyday women living in a world I know and understand. These women are accomplished in their own right. I learn best from the women around me, in the world around me.

In my years of despair I held on to hope. I hoped for a different life. I didn’t dream about a different life, because I worried he could see my dreams. Instead, I silently hoped for one. When my hope arrived I panicked, I didn’t like change and this was a very drastic change.

I began to look for guidance though the women around me. I had no one to observe. I didn’t know anyone who was divorced or had suffered abuse. Who could I look up to?

“Sometimes, you have to stop trying to force it, walk away and let your subconscious show you the way. Fill up on life for a while.” ~ J.K. Rowling.

I stopped. I found a role model outside of my everyday life. A woman I couldn’t see. She went through a painful divorce, poverty, and she is a writer. She was someone I found relatable. She survived and thrived.

I began to read the Harry Potter books written by J.K. Rowling. I loved them. She created a creature in her books to symbolize depression — dementors. These creatures try to suck all the happiness out of you. I cried. I felt as though I had a dementor hovering over me. I listened to her wise words and decided to just “be” for a while. I have been filling up on life, letting my subconscious lead the way. This has been a truly amazing gift. I am learning to love me.

I joined a support group. In this group I listened to stories, much worse than mine. I saw women who were broken like me. I listened to the many stories week after week. I didn’t speak for the first six months of class. I was broken. I was afraid. I saw women who learned to live again. They survived, they were okay. I didn’t think I would ever be okay, but here I am, I am now okay.

In time, I realized my bright light and sent my dementor away. It was time to step back into life I am on the other side, just like graduating high school, I am proud of the woman I have become. Many wonderful role models helped shape the woman I am today.

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