Twelve years ago, when I followed a young man to his home country of Germany, I believed myself to be the heroine of a wonderful romance. We married, I had a baby and reality quickly set in.
I was a much different person then. Impetuous? Well, yes. Irrational? Almost certainly. Immature? Rash, quick tempered and ignorant? Yes, yes, yes and yes.
German speaking? Um...no. And that's where reality bit me in the butt. Our apartment was in a small village nestled in the vallies of North Rhine Westphalia. I was the only American for miles around.
So many experiences shaped my identity in the eight years that it took me to correct my error of rash judgement. To say it was a struggle would be an understatement and as much as I would like to let the past remain in the past, the fact of the matter is that I thank God everyday for forcing me to recognize my own strength.
I am now fluent in German. My daughter is intelligent and beautiful. I published a novel and then some. I discovered that I can run a mile straight uphill in 20 degree weather. Perhaps most notably, I learned to respect myself enough to walk away from a mentally abusive marriage.
It is who I am, although that kind of strength and determination is no longer required in my everyday. But it's there. Crouching like a tiger.