my declaration of independence

I’m super excited about Michaela’s post. If you like it too, then you will check out her blog and then leave harassing comments begging her to actually blog more than once a season.

“We can spend our lives letting [our] history tell us how good or bad we are. Letting our past decide our future. Or we can decide for ourselves. And maybe it’s our job to invent something better.” -Chuck Palahniuk

When I came across Erin’s proposition to write a guest blog about a “defining moment” I’ve experienced, it took me about 25 seconds of soul-searching to determine which singular event has had the biggest influence on my life. It’s taken me a couple of months, however, to write this story for you, dear stranger. I wondered, Will they get it? Can they relate? Will I sound like I take myself too seriously? Can I talk about myself for that long without sounding narcissistic? Is that question narcissistic? Can I write an entire blog post without saying ‘fuck’ at least once, for emphasis? Instead of working out the obstacles that have delayed this post, I’ve decided to shoot from the hip and maybe the heart.

I’ll share some history with you first, to help you understand my defining moment’s significance. I’m 26, and the last four years of my life have been full of big changes. I became a mom to two babies, becoming a single mom this year. These have been the most pivotal events in my life, but I don’t believe any of them exclusively define me. Bringing my children into the world was a tremendously significant experience, but I can’t claim that it was solely mine. Those moments also belong to my children; we did it together. Their births defined us collectively.

Breaking up with their dad was the most painful decision I’ve ever made. I had the emotional support of my friends and family, but I felt like I’d failed and worried incessantly about the kids’ future. Although the break-up shaped the course of my future, it doesn’t represent my identity.

When we broke up, the kids and I had to move. My best friend’s parents offered us their home while I figured things out. I didn’t know how I’d be able to afford our own place, but I saved for it anyway. My ex’s words taunted me; he’d said I’d never be able to make it on my own. At the time, I was working part-time at a clothing store. I took home only $100 some weeks, but I saved almost every dollar I earned.

In February, I was hired part-time at a property management company. I kept my retail job to piece together a livable income and juggled around babysitters for whom I will forever be thankful. I also found an apartment in a great school district that fit my budget.

Signing the lease on March 5th, 2011 was my defining moment.

This moment was quiet, and although my landlord was there, the moment was mine. I gave him a chunk of my savings and signed my name, committing myself and my children to a 12 month lease and a home of our own. I bought myself new sheets. I decided where to put the furniture. I’ve put a few too many holes in the walls, choosing where to hang my favorite art pieces and photographs. To me, my lease isn’t just a financial and legal commitment. My lease represents a promise to myself and my kids that I can do it on my own.

It is my fucking declaration of independence.

I live frugally, and money is tight sometimes, but I feel like my rent is the best investment I make each month. We live in a safe neighborhood in a nice town. My neighbors are friendly, and my landlord looks out for us.

I finally have my own walls, and everything inside them belongs to me and the two people I love most. My apartment is a reflection of the space I wanted to create for my family. It’s comfortable, quiet and playful. It’s also messy sometimes, just like me.

Saving for and ultimately moving into my own apartment defined me: I’m determined. I’m strong. I’m a provider. I’m mama bear. I’m still a terrible cook. And I’m happy. It’s been a hell of a year, and it’s tested my willpower. As it turns out, I’ve got plenty of it.


  1. Angela Noelle says:

    Good for you, Michaela!! The worst reason to stay with a person is because you don’t think you could support yourself, so good for you for not caving to his taunts and for proving him wrong. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be at times, but you seem like a gal who doesn’t let a little thing like obstacles get in your way!

  2. Valerie Lee says:

    Keep on living, loving and inspiring!

    Pretty, pretty please!
    Don’t you ever ever feel
    Like your less than less than perfect
    Pretty pretty please*
    Lyrics by Pink

  3. Paula White says:

    Michaela, your story is inspirational. I hope this gets out to all that question whether to stay in a painful relationship or have the courage to take that first, next step into freedom to experience the inner strength that was always there. Jump. Leap. Don’t waste another second of this precious lifetime! Adventures like this are the corner stones of endless blessings to build upon.

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