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Next in our series on women who are drawing their own life map, is a woman who is not afraid to be herself, my favorite snarky mom. She is hilarious, outspoken, and a huge advocate for childhood literacy. I am proud to call her a friend, and my family’s “book lady” (What? Doesn’t every family have a book lady?)
It’s hard to believe that Meghan Doyle ever allowed her outspoken side to be silenced, however that’s exactly how life started out for her. Meghan jokes that she grew up “Irish-Baptist” (instead of Irish-Catholic), and was very involved in the church. As in, going three times a week and to youth group, involved.
Meghan met good friends at youth group and attributes her passion for helping people to that and the church, however, she always felt she had to quiet a part of herself. She was taught that there were certain things you can or can’t say, ways you had to act, and of course heaven and hell to scare you into saying, doing & being what you were supposed to. So in turn, religion had her fearful of being herself.
“I think that’s where my passion for helping people came from, and (doing) that type of thing. But also, it kind of turned off the parts of me that make me, me. “
Into the world
While all of Meghan’s high-school friends were headed to college, Meghan found herself headed toward marriage.
At 20 years old, she married someone she met (not-surprisingly) through church. Looking back now, she sees that it was kind of her way out of a stressful home, where she found herself taking care of her sisters while her parents dealt with their tumultuous relationship.
Even into this relationship, Meghan was having to hide who she was and not say certain things, specifically when in front of his parents. She felt ignored and she was tired of her needs being unimportant and not being met, so after five years she took the first step on her own path. She left him.
Out on her own
After having listened to Meghan’s story, I believe this is the first step she really took onto her own life map.
Meghan’s life map includes being able to be herself. Not everyone’s personal life-map story starts with a focus on work or family choices. In fact, many journeys begin with a big step towards being able to be who we truly are.
Meghan took this first step by leaving her husband.
This was not a popular step. (Often the leap towards becoming yourself is not.) Her parents & sisters were concerned about Meghan’s decision to step out on her own, and her pastor was really wanting her to stay and work on her marriage. However, she knew she was done.
The next few years were incredibly difficult as she got back up onto her feet and rebuilt relationships with her friends and family. At
this time, she worked two jobs and started back at school for social work, but the judgement from the community she had felt a part of took a toll on her emotionally, and she had to find a way to come out of that.
Leaving a relationship that, to so many other people looks perfect, is a hard decision. She occasionally wound up questioning if she made the right choice; she had a beautiful wedding, a beautiful house, she only had to work part time, her husband was in the military and on the way to a great pension. Everything that so many girls are taught to want and look for, she had. Yet she wasn’t happy, and luckily she knew in her heart to trust her intuition.
“As crazy as it was, I truly felt like I was living who I was, like, I was kind of scraping away all those layers to get to that person.
Looking back now, I kind of had to go through that.”
The couple of years after her divorce, while she was working and going to school, were also filled with partying and dating men she says you wouldn’t want your daughter dating. Many of us have gone through a time like this, often after high-school/ in college. It’s a time of self-exploration and figuring out how to navigate who you are versus what everyone else wants you to be.
This time was important as it allowed who Meghan truly is to break out of the place she had hid herself away so long before.
Help from other places
Allowing who you truly are inside to shine, and then continuing on to become who you are meant to be is a difficult path to find and stay on. Especially for those people who were always told who they are supposed to be and how they are supposed to act.
Sometimes, (often) we need help from other places, and other people.
Meghan was able to find the beginning of her path by leaving her husband and getting out there to live on her own. Once she did, she found her way to someone who would help her continue on the path, and eventually discover who she could become.
A little while after her divorce, Meghan began working as a bartender. During her time there she met Dave. Dave became a friend, then became more. Over time Dave, their relationship, and their future son, would help Meghan learn to be who she is without worry of what other people thought. Allowing her to show her outspoken side as, we that know her, know and love it today.
“..as much as his quirkiness and the way he does things drives me crazy, I think it’s also taught me how to do that, you know, to just live the life that you want, without caring what other people think, or what you’re supposed to do.”
Living life as she wants to live it
Meghan now lives with Dave raising their son together. Unmarried, knowing they choose each other every day. While the church may not agree, they live the way they want to live. While they are at it, they are living as their true selves, each on their own life path, together.
She is a social worker during the day, dealing with difficult and sometimes depressing work. So outside of her day-job, she owns an Usborne Books & More business. She helps families with literacy, and inspires children to love books, stories and reading. (She is great at sharing literacy tips in her facebook group, Meghan’s Usborne Book Storytellers including running a summer-reading program!)
Her son loves being her helper, and she is raising him to be himself. Without fear of judgement.
Living a whole-hearted life starts with being authentic
As Brené Brown says, “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
Meghan started drawing her own life map the day she decided to leave her husband and get on a path to being her true self, and then allowing the world to see that true self as well.
It was not an easy choice, going against what she was raised to believe she should do. Going against what her family, friends, and church believed she should do. Walking into the unknown.
However if she had not followed her intuition, her gut, and taken that step, she would never have gotten to a place of being herself and allowing her true light to shine. As an amazing mother. As a snarky friend. As an outspoken Irish-woman. As an empowering literacy advocate. As a loving, committed partner. As a grateful, whole-hearted (wonderful) human.
If you met somebody who was living life based on other people’s expectations, and you had to tell them one thing about getting out and living for themselves, what would you tell them?
I would say, fall forward into the fear of the rejection, the isolation, the unknown. Go experience it, because otherwise all your life will be is what you know, which is living a life you don’t want.
…But, it’s amazing. Because I think when you have faith in those things, the universe, God, whatever you want to call it, they bring the opportunities and people you need to meet along the way. It’s just kind of allowing yourself to be open to that, because you’re not going to see it when you make the decision.
It’s crazy how people or opportunities I didn’t know or think existed showed up and truly carried me through to where I wanted to go.