*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.
Q and A with Caitlin, College Park, Maryland
“Even the person who seems to have it the most together has problems, and we are all one big mess. I learned that what I considered to be a weakness was actually a strength that allowed me to help others with the same issues. I remember saying that I hated my life, that I wanted to be someone else, someone normal. Your day is coming. You just have to take those baby steps until they become great strides. Then one day, you will look back and only have some memories of that time, long ago, when you were struggling. If I can do it, you can do it. We are no different. Set your mind, and keep it set.” -Caitlin
Q: What are you passionate about?
A: I currently work as a Kitchen and Bath Designer, and I absolutely love the ability to get creative and face challenges head on with my clients. I enjoy painting, hiking, and reading in my free time. Yoga has always been something that helps ground me and keeps me energized for the day ahead.
But let me tell you about my real passion— my family! I have a super energetic seven-year-old who LOVES arts and crafts! We have a poodle named, “Georgia” who keeps us busy and loves cuddling with us! As a single mother, there is never a dull moment! I am passionate about many things. As far as being a mother, there is nothing more rewarding and challenging all at the same time. My daughter has taught me 2 things. #1 to ALWAYS have fun no matter what and #2 to never stop asking questions.
Pictured: Poodle, Georgia
Pictured: Caitlin and her daughter
Q: What were your younger years like?
A: First, let me tell you that I am the oldest of 6 children. Oldest child + Big family = Great responsibility. There is a really large age gap (16 years between me and my youngest brother). I assumed title of “mothers helper” around the age of ten. This meant changing diapers, babysitting, meal prep… the whole nine yards. My youngest two siblings were high risk pregnancies so my mom was at UMD after they were born for awhile. Due to her absence, I really had to step up and help my dad take care of the other children still left at home. As much as I resented my childhood being “cut short,” it taught me a lot. I attribute my OCD responsibility and “take charge” attitude from that point in my life. At a very young age I took on the responsibility of “mother” and learned very quickly that waking up in the middle of the night with a 4 year old who’s having night terrors and a 1 year old who’s hungry, isn’t the best of predicaments. I learned about balance, how to put others needs first, and how to work as a team with my parents to achieve an expected end result.
Pictured: Caitlin and her daughter
Q: What were your experiences in school like?
A: As far as schooling goes, I bounced around a lot from school to school. By the time I entered high school, I had been to a private school, public elementary school, and homeschool. I was never in one select school for longer than 2 years at a time. I was a competitive figure skater through middle school, and skating was LIFE.
Because of other family circumstances, I had to give skating up. I went in to a new school, once again, making a new set of friends. By the time I finished 11th grade, I just wanted to go to college. I pulled myself out of school, enrolled in a homeschooling group and completed my senior year over the summer before my senior year in high school would have started. I left for college that fall and attended Marymount University for Interior Architecture and Design.
Looking back, I was sad that I never established a consistent “friend base.” I will never know what it’s like to go through 12 years of schooling with a group of friends, creating that forever bond and the countless memories over the years. I will never have a class reunion, a senior yearbook to look back on, or the experience of walking across the stage for my High School graduation.
Q: What’s something you learned by constantly moving?
A: While being sad about not creating a consistent “friend base,” I am extremely grateful for the constant “bouncing around” during my school years. It allowed me to see many different walks of life and forced me to be an extrovert. I made many friends along the way, and I am very grateful that I never fit into a “mold” but rather was able to get along with everyone by being myself.
Moving around a lot made me very adaptable to life and change, which helped me get through my divorce. My senior year of college, I found out I was pregnant. My then-boyfriend and I immediately got married in the courthouse to please our very religious families. To me, this was just another change. We got married, I graduated 3 months later, and had our daughter 2 months after graduation. We had a home built and moved from VA to MD 8 months later, all the while planning our big “church wedding.” We were in the house for 5 months. Four days before our church wedding, my ex-husband said he didn’t want to be married, he wanted to be single. He handed our daughter to me and told me to leave.
We called off the wedding 4 days before, having to still pick up flowers, my dress, pay the caterer and call 180 guests. Panic set in and completely consumed my life. I had just turned 24 years old and set into a deep depression. I did not understand why this happened to me. I had always been a “good kid.” I got good grades, went to church, and obeyed the rules of being a decent person. I gained nearly 30 pounds in a month from stress eating and spiraling downhill. To this day, 6 years later, after many court battles, custody battles, fighting for child support, I look back at it all and realized that in the midst of all the struggle, the depression, the debilitating anxiety, I found my faith.
I learned that you have to chose to be happy, even on your worst day. I learned that it’s OK to carry around a brown paper bag when you feel like hyperventilating and it’s OK to be HUMAN. It’s okay to be real and have real feelings.
Q: What would you like others to know from your story?
A: Even the person who seems to have it the most together has problems, and we are all one big mess. I learned that what I considered to be a weakness was actually a strength that allowed me to help others with the same issues. I remember saying that I hated my life, that I wanted to be someone else, someone normal. I was in church one day and everyone was giving the “sign of peace” where we shake hands. I was recently divorced and was by myself. Ironically, everyone at church that day seemed to be a couple or a family. I was so angry the entire service, sitting there, in the back row, looking around at all the people I considered lucky—because they looked like happy families. I sat there boiling over with anger. I watched as everyone was shaking hands during the “sign of peace.” The service continued, and I just wanted to leave. All of a sudden, a very old man tapped me on my shoulder (I was so annoyed at this point that I just turned and gave him that “what, do you need me to move?!” look). He just took my hand and said “peace be with you, you know… I always save the best for last.” He smiled and just walked away. I left the church that day bursting into tears. That day, I decided that no matter what happened, the best was going to be saved for last, and if my life wasn’t what I wanted now, it was only going to get better. This has carried throughout my life and now, entering my 30’s. I am more grounded in faith than I have ever been. I can honestly say I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything else in the world. It was through them that I came to appreciate the little things and little blessings in life. Most importantly, I learned to be thankful for the hard times. If there is one piece of advice for anyone dealing with anxiety or depression, it is to fight the good fight and never ever EVER give up. Your day is coming. You just have to take those baby steps until they become great strides. Then one day, you will look back and only have some memories of that time, long ago, when you were struggling.
If I can do it, you can do it. We are no different. Set your mind and keep it set.
Pictured: Caitlin happy today with her daughter and Matt, her significant other.
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