‘I was separated from my husband, left a toxic job, and lost most of my friends. Then I thought of the women in my life.’: Woman realizes she is a ‘strong woman’ because she was raised by ‘stronger women

“I’m a strong woman because I was raised by stronger women. 

Recently I hit a low part in my life, I found myself separated from my husband, I left a very toxic work environment with no job prospects, and during this process I lost most of my friends. It’s funny how when you’re on top everyone wants to be your friend, but as soon as any rift in your life occurs, friends bail. This has happen a few times in my life, so I just assume it’s normal now and that people who are truly your friends do actually stick around. I cherish those who have stuck with me, who listened instead of telling me their opinions or try to tell me what I should be doing. If you ever find yourself in a low place, remember you know yourself better than anyone, and you do not have to make excuses or apologize for how you chose to heal. 

One night while lying awake in bed fully awake at 3:30 a.m., I began to think, ‘How does anyone make it through this?’ ‘When will I start feeling like myself again?’ ‘Will I ever feel like myself again?’ Then I began to think of the women in my life starting with my mom, then my grandmother, and finally my great-grandmothers.

 I’ll start with my great grandmothers; my maternal great grandmother had 9 children. My great grandfather had spent time in prison for bootlegging, and drank heavily. This was during the depression, they were so poor that they lived in an actual chicken coop for a while, and my great aunt and grandmother would sing in bars as children for coins. My great grandmother kept all the kids together even when money was nonexistent and when my great grandfather was not around. How she was able to keep it together with 9 kids, no money and an alcoholic husband and stay sane is completely beyond me. My great grandfather passed away in 1968 of cancer, my mom recalls him having a tracheostomy tube and would pour whiskey down it while in the hospital, remember when I said he was an alcoholic. My great grandmother passed away in 1991, she never remarried, she was content with herself, and again she kept it together all those years. 

Courtesy Cortney McBride

My paternal great grandmothers I actually remember and it wasn’t until I was older that I actually began to think about her and what she went through. My grandma Mable (my grandmothers mother) had 6 children in Wheeler Texas during the dust bowl. They were very poor and with no work around they relocated to California for her husband to work. After sometime in California her husband left completely abandoned her with all 6 children, no money, and never returned. I think I would have completely lost my mind, but not my Grandma Mable she took it upon herself to give her children a great life. Remember this was back in the 30’s and 40’s, when it wasn’t very acceptable for a woman with children to be divorced or without a husband.  It was hard for a woman to find a job that would be able to support her family, and single mother was almost unheard of back then, but she did it and she did it without a man, and she never remarried. 

My Other mama (my grandfather’s mother) her name just says it all, I remember her very well. She passed away when I was 14 and you could not have asked for a better grandmother, she was perfect in everyone’s eyes. She grew up in Indian Territory Oklahoma, she never knew her father and was raised by her mother stepfather and was the oldest of her siblings. She grew up in what would eventually be a small town in southern Oklahoma, she married her husband after his first wife had passed away and he was raising two very young children alone. Other mama said that she felt so bad for the children so she married him, I mean why not, right? She had six children total, with the youngest being my grandfather. She was also a midwife and delivered most of the town’s population at one point in time; she was also the bread winner of the family. Her husband worked for the city but she made most of the money and supported the family. This was also during a time when women, especially married women with children did not work, but she insisted on working and she loved babies and children so much. Her husband passed away in 1970, and she in 2002 at 96 years old. All those years alone, she never remarried, she lived alone, she drove, she went to church, and she had a life after her husband. I think I would have gone into a dark depressing place if I lost my husband, but she did not do that she lived a very happy life even after her husband’s death.

Oh man, now my grandmothers. It should be no surprise that since they were raised by strong women that they were also very strong women, and by very strong I mean tough as nails, no nonsense, this is the way it is too bad, type of women. My Nanny (my maternal grandmother) stood a whole 4 foot 11 inches tall and maybe 85 pounds, but was tough and had no issue telling you how it was. She had five children; her first husband abandoned her with two young children and never came back. She married her second husband (my paw paw) who adopted her two oldest children and together they had three daughters and five children total. Her husband was an alcoholic and not a friendly alcoholic, he would become violent when he drank and would become abusive as well. My Nanny attended nursing school at night after all five children went to bed, and was a nurse for 40 years. She was the main bread winner for the family, and often times her husband would drink away all the money. She was tough on her children and sometimes even tough on her grandchildren. She loved all of us, but God help you if she became mad, she would tell you how it was and would make no apologies. She was the toughest and strongest woman I have ever known, and at sometimes the most stubborn.  

Courtesy Cortney McBride

My Grandma (my paternal grandmother) stood almost six foot tall and was also a no nonsense grandmother. My Grandfather stood maybe 5 foot 7 inches on a good day and adored her, they had six children together. My Grandfather was always so smitten with her, and it showed, he did everything for her and the love he had for her was undeniable. When he passed away after a very short stint of cancer in 1993 at only 61 years old, my grandmother did not even know how to pump gas. Her daughter in laws showed her how to pump gas and balance a check book. My Grandma could have easily just moved in with one of her six children, but she didn’t, she learned how to be self-sustaining and she even sustained the 300 acre ranch for a long period of time before downsizing. She made something of herself after losing her husband, she was determined to make it and she did. She was beautiful but tough and sometimes was just down right mean, but she was who she was and if someone did not like it then, ‘they can leave.’ 

Courtesy Cortney McBride

Now my mother, she is the strongest of all, my queen, my rock, my best friend, and the most important woman in my life. Just some background, my mother has been married a total of three and a half years of her 64 years of life. She grew up with an alcoholic father and at times in a physically abusive home. She had my brother when she was 19 and not in the best relationship, she was married to my brother’s father for less than six month. When they got divorced in the 70’s, she wrote the divorce herself and filed it herself, meanwhile I still have problem opening a milk carton. She bought her own home at the age of 18 and began working in the mortgage business in her early twenties, and is still in the business today. She met, married, had me, and divorced my father in the span on 5 years. Let me be clear, I had great parents both were present in my life and provided a great life for me. My parents were just too alike; even though I’m sure they would disagree with me, but they were great parents separately and for the most part co-parented well. I know when my parents got divorced it broke my mom’s heart, I was young but I remember her crying in the laundry room more than once. I remember her seeing a therapist during and after the divorce, but what I remember most is how strong she was and still is. My mother is the most independent and self-made person I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, and I am very proud to be her daughter.  My mother instilled in me, not to put up with nonsense especially from a boyfriend, husband or any man for that matter. She taught me to stand up for myself, and to speak up when something is happening that I did not agree with. She told me to always do the right thing, and to always tell the truth. She raised me to also be an independent woman, to never rely on a man, and to be self-sufficient.  When my husband decided to separate after 11 years together I was devastated. I called my mom and she spent the whole first week with me, reminding me of who I was, and reminded me that that I came from a very long line of strong women. My mother stayed single after her and my father divorced in 1991, and made a very good life for herself and by herself. She’s not perfect, none of these women in the article are, but they are strong women and when there wasn’t a man around they did it alone. I am a strong woman because I was raised by stronger women; each of these women shaped me into who I am. Anytime I begin to feel doomed or think I can’t do this alone, I remember all of these women and I’m quickly reminded that I can do it, and that I’m not alone. There were strong women before me that made it alone, and there will continue to be strong women after me who make it. So, here’s to us, here’s to all the boss ladies, the queens, the bad b*tches, and all of us out there in this world alone and rocking it!”

Courtesy Cortney McBride

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Cortney McBride. Follow her journey on Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more stories from Cortney here: 

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