“The little hand book of empowering stories” (The women’s directory)
So I have had the pleasure of being the “middle man” in uniting women from all corners of the world to share their empowering experiences.
Stories from real woman who have chosen to share their most vulnerable and personal moments with us. The purpose of this post was to to share, unite and support each other. No matter where we are in the world, you have no idea how much you can empower and uplift some one just through words alone. You never know how much your journey can inspire some one who may be experiencing the same.
This may be quite a long post, so grab a cup of tea or coffee and get comfortable. I intentionally chose to have many stories wrapped into one post as I endeavour that people will refer back to this when they need a little encouragement.
While preparing this post, I have cried, I have smiled and I have looked deep within mysef. Most of all I’ve learnt that behind every beautiful face is a story. I hope you enjoy ❤️
“See when you delve into the world of self harming it stays with you for life”
Jody (Devon,UK) I am a woman, and I have been vulnerable. I remember what it felt like the first time I self-harmed. It was a feeling of relief to feel something real rather than just emotions. To watch it slowly bleed away as if all the bad feelings inside me left too. I felt cleansed of my lack of self-worth;punishing myself for who I was. Never the intention to die but to suffer. The after pain was weirdly comforting. The more injuries I inflicted on myself, the stronger I felt.
I was still living at home when my mother found me at my worse. Lying on my bed cut up like an old pair of jeans. Nobody ever wants to see their child in that way. When I saw the way she was hurt I knew that it had to stop. It wasn’t fair on my family, my friends and deep down somewhere I knew it wasn’t fair on myself. So I went and sought help. I made a promise to myself to never hurt myself like that again. I broke it. A handful of times.
See when you delve into the world of self harming it stays with you for life. Much like anxiety, you can never get rid of it but you learn to deal with it. Sometimes it gets the better of you like when you go through a miscarriage or life’s just being plain nasty. The only difference is now I know there are other ways to feel strong and it’s a fight I will never stop fighting.
If you’re reading this and struggling with your own battle just know that you are never alone. There are so many people in this world who would happily offer an ear and a shoulder to you. You just have to find the courage to come out of your comfort zone slightly and you will be so pleasantly surprised. Please don’t leave it until it starts to consume you like I did. Tell your story, make others aware of what you’re going through and you will be amazed on how much strength it will give you to fight your battles. You owe it to yourself!
“Depression is a terrifying and dangerous place to be without help, but I refused to accept I was vulnerable, so I kept quiet”
Rachelle (Florida, USA) I am a woman, and I have been vulnerable. I hate being vulnerable. It is such and uncomfortable feeling for me. It makes me feel I am weak, even if I know that’s not true.
Battling mental illness has probably been when I’ve been the most vulnerable. I try to handle everything on my own to avoid feeling vulnerable, including my mental health. The negative stigma attached to mental illness makes people feel they should keep their suffering to themselves to save face with the rest of the world. I was not the exception. Depression is a terrifying and dangerous place to be without help, but I refused to accept I was vulnerable, so I kept quiet.
I kept swallowing my emotions, putting on a brave face for my family. We are moms we have to be tough right? After a while, I became emotionally numb, and that was bad for me and for my family. After suffering in silence for months, I decided to open up to my husband. I was scared. I don’t know why because my husband has never been anything less than completely supportive. That is how messed up my brain was.
Instead, he reacted in the way he always did when I had a depressive episode. He hugged me, and told me “it’s going to be ok.” He told me he loves me just as I am and that vulnerability didn’t equal weakness. It wasn’t the first time he had to say this, but I am making sure it would be the last!
That was the moment I realized it’s ok to be vulnerable. Our vulnerabilities do not define us, but they are part of what makes us who we are. Now I know that people who use my vulnerability to hurt me don’t matter. Surround yourself with those who lift you up, not those who want to tear you down.
“He told me that the world would be a better place if I killed myself”
Kim (Ontario, Canada) I am a woman, and I have been vulnerable. I’m not the first woman to fall in love with the wrong man and I’m not likely to be the last. When it happened to me, it was like living in a room with no air. I felt suffocated unless he was there beside me. I couldn’t function without him which became dangerous because when we fought, he would “forget about me” for days. Dating a narcissist is one of the most dangerous habits you could have. Everything started off wonderfully, dating him was exciting and we were always doing something fun.
When I first met him, we were friends and he would often refer to me as his “Princess.” I could do no wrong and his loyalty to me kept me warm. It was like I was high on a pedestal that I would never be able to get down from. When we started dating it was that man that I had been friends with for years that I thought that I would be dating. But within a few months, things started to change. He had always called me intelligent and smart; he was impressed with the fact that I was a writer, but suddenly everything I did was “stupid.” He started saying it so often that it made me wonder if I actually was
It’s sad when you love someone so much and you have a hard time understanding why they have changed. You assume you must have done something wrong and they make you believe that you did. He used to be so kind and now I was struggling to do anything I could to please him all the while he was telling me that I was “the worst girlfriend he ever had.” I had a hard time processing that because I was trying so hard to make him happy.
We got into a huge fight one day and he told me that the world would be a better place if I killed myself. I knew then that if I didn’t leave that he would probably push me to do just that. Leaving was a struggle because he would always pull me back in with promises that things would be better.
I know I’m not the only woman or even man who has struggled in a similar situation. There was a time in my life that I used to think that I was too strong ever to get involved with an abusive man but with a narcissist, you are often blindsided. You don’t see the signs until you are already in love and committed to that person. I made a mistake but I was able to correct it by leaving and I know that there are so many women out there that never do. They don’t realize that there are women just like them, a support system that can get them through anything.
“I learnt that my expectations were drastically different from the other persons”
Adrian (New York) – I am a woman, and I have been vulnerable. I recently found myself broken hearted over an incredibly valuable relationship in my life. After months and months of investing myself into the relationship, I learned that my expectations were drastically different than the other person’s. I thought we were headed in the same direction. But we weren’t. And I found out from this person’s very mouth. But it wasn’t a clear and direct conversation about how our expectations differed. It was with this phrase: “I’m dating this girl…” What. A. Life. Shattering. Moment. I had allowed myself to disclose deeply personal information to this person. I had allowed myself to spend my precious time on him. All for this person to completely disregard our relationship in the most unemotional manner imaginable. How did I begin healing? Almost instinctively, I surrounded myself with my sisters. My support. I had a “sister” date planned for nearly every night after my relationship with the person essentially died. Heart break is hard. That’s why we have sisters. If we support one another, we will find so much healing, comfort, and love.
“I had two miscarriages between my firstborn and my last”
Maria – (Maryland, USA) I am a woman, and I have been vulnerable. I had two miscarriages between my firstborn and my last. It took me a while to share it publicly because it seemed to me that no one ever talked about it. Only close friends and family knew at first. Even then, I felt like I shouldn’t share it because it would mean admitting that something was wrong with me or that maybe I was being punished for something. But once I decided to share it, I found many others going through the same thing! It was eye opening for me because I didn’t think it happened too often. By opening up, I was able to find a group of people who shared the same pain, the same thoughts, and the same feelings of inadequacy. I’m not sure if anyone can feel fully “healed” after losing someone in their lives, but I do know that having a community who understands what you’re going through helped a lot. Knowing that I wasn’t alone and that others have gone through the same thing helped me realize that I wasn’t a failure. I don’t know why these things happen… and I’m not fully on board with the whole “everything happens for a reason” mantra. But what I do know is that God puts people in my life when I need them the most. And that, has made all the difference for me.
“One doesn’t think that heartache would be knocking on the other side of the door”
Angel – (Florida, USA) I am a woman, and I have been vulnerable. Going through a miscarriage left me vulnerable as a woman. When getting a positive pregnancy test, one doesn’t think that heartache would be knocking on the other side of the door. I was so excited for my daughter to have a brother or a sister and I had already picked out names for him or her. I didn’t think I would have trouble because I had already had my daughter but that wasn’t the case. It threw me off guard knowing that I was having a miscarriage. I was stunned. I mostly blamed myself wondering what I did wrong but sometimes things are just beyond our control. Just know that if you have gone through this or going through this, you are not alone. Sometimes we are not prepared for what lies ahead in the future but what we do have is support. What helped me get through this was reaching out to other mothers and friends, who gave me comfort when I needed it the most. I truly appreciated it. So try your best not to isolate yourself. Whether the good or the bad we all need to stick together and support each other a women.
“Vulnerability you are a friend to me but please knock first and I will let you know when you are welcome”
Cin (Orlando, USA) I am a woman, and I have been vulnerable. That statement alone is strong. How many women and men can stand up and say that right now? My chapters of vulnerability are endless but we will turn to the page of friendship. I have had friends whom I have been so vulnerable with and in return receive the opposite. I would tell them absolutely everything, my ideas, goals, relationship/family problems or just common talk and I believed they genuinely wanted to hear about it. I am such an open book and I felt like everyone knew everything about me, but I knew nothing of others. I am completely exposed and everyone knew my every move. They kept up with me and not to cheer me on, but instead to invert negativity on to my plans even if they did not maliciously intend to. It’s the flesh and we all experience some “How could she do that and I can’t” moments. Follow me? So many people knew what I was doing and I am a huge believer in the energy you put in and out of your life. Unfortunately some people do not want to see you doing better than them and then taint your visions. Sometimes those people are in your tribe. Maybe a pinch of salt comes over them when they hear all the things you are doing, want to do and will do. I started catching on when one day I just felt like it made sense, I didn’t know my circle. They are all moving in silence and here I am in openness to them because they are my friends and they care about me. Now I’ve learned this ninja skill. I have accomplished more now than ever before just from the golden rule of focusing more on my goals to myself and if I needed to say it out loud, I would in prayer or write it down in my gratitude journal. Vulnerability is beautiful in its own ironic way and I know you too well Sir but as my life flourishes, I too have learned this hard lesson; I am my own best friend. I want to see myself succeed in all honesty and purity. Let me work on my mental direction of positive and negative thoughts without fighting the thoughts of others while I am at it.
I am strong. I am successful. I am beautiful. I will continue to strive through life as an empowered woman. Vulnerability you are a friend to me but please knock first and I will let you know when you are welcome.
“Mia had developed an infection in her lungs. Her heart began to overcompensate for her lungs just not working”
Ashley – (Louisiana, USA). I am a woman, and I have been vulnerable. At 19, I had my first daughter 6 weeks early. My water broke while watching tv with my mom, but it didn’t completely break. I went to the hospital to get the strip test to see if there was any amniotic fluid present. The nurse did not perform the test correctly and said I must have just peed myself and sent me home. I knew all night that something was VERY wrong, so the next morning I called the doctor again. I went into his office and he did another strip test, but this time the correct way and determined my water did indeed break and I would be delivering that day.
I made it to the hospital and got prepped for an emergency C-section. Mia was delivered into this world less than an hour later at 6lbs 10oz. Mia’s lungs were not functioning properly. She was sedated and put on a ventilator. She had also developed an infection in her lungs. Her heart began to overcompensate for her lungs just not working. She was put on two different blood pressure medicines. We weren’t allowed to touch her since over stimulation would raise her heart rate. A nurse in the NICU did tell us to prepare ourselves for possibly not taking her home.
Beyond all the odds, she got stronger! After two weeks, she was completely off the ventilator and moved to the hospital nursery. She spent another two weeks there before we were finally able to bring her home! Mia will be 13 this year. She is a straight A student in honors classes at a STEM Academy.
Her birth and first 6 weeks of life completely shaped the mother I turned out to be! As much as we try to plan out every aspect of motherhood, it can be thrown into a loop at any second! Going through the process of having a NICU baby made me a stronger person and gave me confidence that I could do this motherhood thing and rock it!
“My baby had incredibly bad jaundice, Sepsis of his lungs and he was holding his breath in his sleep”
Gemma- (Dorset, UK) I am a woman, and I have been vulnerable many times! But after the arrival of my little boy I was more vulnerable than ever. I left hospital probably earlier than I should of, But I thought home would help us all bond better.. But my Harvey became incredibly poorly.. when I phoned the hospital to say I felt like he was unwell I was told I was over reacting and made to feel like I didn’t no my baby. This made me feel awful.. however on the second day at home I was so sure something wasn’t right I phoned again.. and again was told to just relax ‘I was a new mum’ bla bla bla.. I remember sitting with my little boy and thinking I must be the WORST mum ever I couldn’t even tell if he was sick or not. I cried a lot in that first few days.!! However that night my inner strength seem to build up and I phoned the hospital a 3rd time, and listened to the same excuses, but rather than argue, I drove him to a&e and forced them to see him.. Low and behold I was right.. my baby had incredibly bad jaundice, Sepsis of his lungs and he was holding his breath in his sleep.. and as bad as it sounds I suddenly felt relief.. I was right.. and although he could of died, and we had some tough times ahead, he was finally being treated for it and he had the help he needed. I am a woman and I have been vulnerable but it’s also taught me that I am strong, and no matter what I know my baby better than any one.
“Fertility, so much of our femininity is tied up in that word”
Caiti -(Ohio, USA) I am a woman and, I have been vulnerable. And I’ve never felt more vulnerable than when I finally told the world that my husband and I lived through three years of unexplained secondary infertility. Ironically, while my finger hovered precariously above the ‘ share’ button, my eight-week-old newborn was laying right beside me. I’d already been through hell and back. I had my miracle baby. And still the thought of coming out with it to the world made my chest physically ache. Would it be like a Scarlet ‘I’ forever embroidered on my chest?
Fertility. So much of our femininity is tied up in that word. I mean, our ancestors weren’t carving up ‘infertility’ goddess statues, right? It’s primitive. Basic. And I was about to expose myself to everyone I knew. But I did it. I told our infertility story. And do you know what happened after that? I was immediately swallowed up by a tidal wave of love and support. People I hadn’t talked to in years were thanking me for sharing because it was happening to them too. I realized there was such beautiful purpose for my pain and I had never felt more powerful in my entire life.
I learned a crucial lesson that day. We are never stronger than when we stand exposed and vulnerable before world. When we say this is me. I am a human being with a breakable heart. And I’m still here. This is true strength, ladies.
“There are impossible standards set for us to be fully immersed in our children’s lives”
Kristy – (Canada) I am a woman, and I have been vulnerable. I have always struggled to be the perfect mother. There are impossible standards set for us to be fully immersed in our children’s lives, the perfect display chefs, the perfect activity planner, party planner, playdate planner, perfectly involved in EVERY activity, and looking refreshed while doing it.
The day that I decided that it was okay to just stop was my most vulnerable as a mother ever. I worried about the judgement, misunderstanding that would come my way when I was to show my not perfect face at an event I didn’t plan or even help at, while sporting yoga pants and a messy bun, as I say “No” to a playdate. Saying no has been lifesaving for me. To the outside I was a perfect mom of 6, who helped at everything, with a smile on her face. In reality, I was exhausted. I was screaming on the inside for a break, for some help, for a nap and for wine by the box full.
I sat down and decided on what my priorities were and my non-negotiables. I then decided that everything else had to go. I removed myself from committees, as a family, we gave up activities that weren’t loved and I began concentrating on quality family time, and more self care. Saying No was amazing. I started out small, and can not confidently say it guilt free.
When asked if I want to bake something for a bake sale last minute, volunteer at a class fieldtrip at a loss of my lunch hour, folding laundry that isn’t mine, when I am so tired my eyes hurt, “No”. I no longer field guilty. My family hears it more, my friends for sure. I have had some heat from committee members, teachers, co-workers etc because I no longer put in ALL the extra time. But for my own mental health, and my overscheduled family, it was worth it. We are all happier and better energized now that we actually have free time to breathe.
It’s okay to feel vulnerable, especially as a parent. The goal is to power through it, believe in your decisions and trust your gut. That’s when we truly grow.
“I stood in a brand new house surrounded by boxes and two small kids wondering how life had brought me to this moment”
Janet (Florida) I am a woman, and I have been vulnerable. A memory floods my mind of the most vulnerable I ever felt. 3 1/2 year ago I stood in a brand new house surrounded by boxes and two small kids wondering how life had brought me to this moment. I had spent my first 36 years in the same city. A big extended supportive family behind me with every step I took and wonderful friends to pick me up if I ever fell. I was thousands of miles from all of them, not knowing a soul but my husband and feeling lost, alone and vulnerable. My husband walked out the door to begin work at his new job and it was just the three of us. In my head I wondered if this was how it was going to be from now on-two little faces staring at me for direction and a clueless feeling of how to give them some. I only knew we were going to have to be all the day to day family we needed for awhile and that was daunting!! I was a grown woman who just wanted her mom to come and make everything ok, anyone relate?
I had to decide right then what my attitude was going to be. This was new to us all and as mama and house CEO I was going to have to set an example. My children would need to see me putting myself out there in this new place, I’d have to be even more vulnerable. I’d have to open myself up to the possibility of rejection from new people. I had to become involved and search for a Florida tribe. I joined a local Moms Club, I volunteered at the elementary school as a class mom and met some friends organically too. As a result of doing so, this place so foreign became home. Strangers became friends and some are even family now to us. I learned my personality translated in Florida too, not to everyone but to the right people. In opening my heart and immersing myself shyly and not very confidently at first in where I was right then and putting away my desire to return to what was safe and comfortable- I grew as a woman. It was hard initially but I found my people. I also found parts of myself I didn’t know existed and I’m proud of this life we’ve created here. Take those first shaky solo steps ladies, the path does get smoother but have you have to start with one foot in front of the other with the attitude that eventually you’ll reach your destination!
“I told the father and he wanted me to have an abortion”
Monique (Texas, USA) – I am a woman and I have been vulnerable. When I first found out I was pregnant, I was devastated. I had plans to go to China to teach. Everything was already set in motion. I told the father and he wanted me to have an abortion. At the time, I had highly considered it. I even went to the clinic and everything. As I sat in the clinic, I realized that there was no way in hell I was doing the right thing, despite the fact that I would be throwing my chances of teaching in China away.
When I told my son’s father that I couldn’t go through with it, he was pissed. He said some of the most hurtful things to this day, I still am hurt by. Months went by that we didn’t speak and I was over it at that point. I turned down the job in a China and got a job here in Houston as a writing teacher, which is my passion: writing.
As my pregnancy continued and then I gave birth to my son, I kept thinking about had I not gone through with my pregnancy. I look at my son everyday and think about how much I would regret not having him. Sometimes I do feel bad that I even considered aborting him. I look at him and he’s my biggest inspiration for everything I do.
What I learned is that I have to do what’s best for me and not worry about someone else. He’s teaching me everyday and inspiring me to go after what I want.
“I was about a year into school when I went through a nasty custody battle due to domestic violence. I was scared, devastated, beyond stressed and had so much on my plate”
Tabith (California, USA) I am a woman, and I have been vulnerable. My youngest daughter was two years old when I realized that working in retail was not going to get me where I want to be in life. I decided to go back to school for Respiratory Therapy. The schedule was taxing and because it was an accelerated course we had weekly tests. I had a two year old, had clinicals 36 hours a week, class 8 hours a week, and endless hours of studying.
I was about a year into school when I went through a nasty custody battle due to domestic violence. I was scared, devastated, beyond stressed and had so much on my plate. I lost half of my support system with my daughter and ended up on welfare so I could keep her in preschool and pay for gas and food. Thankfully I still had my parents to help with giving us a place to live and dropping/picking up from preschool when needed but that was it. I didn’t have any me time and was so caught up with court drama, school, and raising a toddler I didn’t even realize the toll it was taking on me. I just kept telling myself it will all get better soon. Just keep on keeping on and that is exactly what I did.
I graduated at the top of my class (for respiratory classes only I kinda slacked in my general education classes). The night of my graduation I found out that I had a job offer pending my state license, I took my state boards 5 days after graduation, and waited two very long weeks for my results. I passed! I did it and I was finally able to sit back, breathe, and reflect on the past 16 months and the nasty storm I went through. Life was finally coming together and it made me so much stronger. I realized at that very moment that I could do anything. With hard work, determination, and persistence I would succeed at anything I set my mind to. We all know that being a woman and mother can be hard but never back down to anyone. Stand up for what you believe in. Chase your dreams and never give up.