Who are you outside of being a mom and a wife? Do you let someone else define who you are? What steps can you follow to become empowered and unapologetic?
In this podcast episode, I talk about the four steps that saved my marriage when I was one month away from divorce.
In This Podcast
- The separation
- Realizing I’m on my own
- Getting my power back
- Doing the work
- Four steps to becoming “Empowered and Unapologetic”
My husband, Willie, and I had been married for about four years and we’d just had our first daughter. One month after she was born, we separated. I was not only heartbroken, I was also completely defeated and felt that there was no way I was getting up from this. All of the roles that defined me were being stripped away. My husband had filed for divorce and I wasn’t ready to tell anyone, not even my mom or best friends, because the minute I shared it, it would become real. Not only that, but I wasn’t going to allow this to happen.
Realizing I’m on my own
One day, I went to the bank to pay the monthly bills. I was told that I no longer banked with them, it was a military bank, my husband banked with them, I did not. What the hell was I going to do now? I had no money, I wasn’t working. I had quit school, I had quit everything because I was married to a marine, I had to support him and build him up, and I was a mom. I realized that now I was going to have to do this on my own and I was going to have to figure something out quickly.
I called Willie and he told me that he would handle the bills and would drop off a weekly budget for me to buy what I need. I couldn’t believe it. In my mind, I had controlled the relationship and now it wasn’t true, now it was clear as day. Up to that point, I had done everything including being there for him intimately. I would compromise myself over and over, telling myself this lie that we were going to get back together. What was going to happen now? I didn’t have any of the answers and I was so scared. I realized I had to start making moves so I got a job.
Getting my power back
It impacted me significantly because I wasn’t going to be defined by somebody else. And even if that meant that I would be met with fear and rejection and self doubt, I wasn’t going to allow somebody to define me. I wasn’t going to do it.
I told him that I wouldn’t keep Aaliyah from him, he’s welcome to see her but I’d schedule it with my mom because I couldn’t do it anymore. I would be changing my number and he would not have access to it. I so badly wanted to end the call with “I love you” but I didn’t, because I couldn’t. I couldn’t put myself in that situation anymore. I decided that it was time to do this for me. I realized that I had given Willie so much power to identify who I was and who I wasn’t and this didn’t allow me to live, it kept me trapped and I had lost sight of who I was.
Doing the work
Willie and I have now been married for 20 years and have three girls. It was a journey and we have both had to do our own work. It took me 10 years to do my work. I went to therapy, read all the books, and did all the things. None of these things worked, none of them challenged me to get to where I needed to be so I decided to create a plan of my own. We just have to know it is possible.
I didn’t think it was possible when I was going through it, I thought I was alone and was doing all of these things that felt lonely and scary. However, through practice, I realized that it was possible. In those 10 years, I went back to school and graduated with my Masters which was amazing and empowering.
Four steps to becoming “Empowered and Unapologetic”
No one is going to give you permission, ladies, and we’ve got to stop asking for it.
1. Understand that perfectionism is a lie
Even though it’s not your best work, it just has to get done. I used to have the mindset of “if it’s not perfect, then I won’t submit it. I won’t be satisfied.” And so I would procrastinate and would wait till the last minute to turn something in. Why? Because I had that excuse… if it’s not good, it’s because I just did it so it wouldn’t be such a hard hit. However, if my heart’s in it, then it is worth showing to the world because I am worth being shown to the world.
2. You are in charge of your own destiny as long as you decide it’s time
Eleanor Rooseveldt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” We are under the assumption that people have power over our feelings. No one can make you feel any way, it is an active choice because you’ve been triggered by something you never worked on. If somebody triggers you, you get to do something about it.
Write it down… “No one has power over me.”
3. Ride the wave of discomfort
Yes, it is uncomfortable, yes, it sucks, yes, it is scary. However, it is crucial that you ride this wave otherwise you are going to stay stagnant. This is the last thing I wanted to hear when I was going through it. I let fear control me and refused to feel all of these things which just left me trapped.
4. Decide what you want and write it down
- List five goals
- Circle the one that you’re ready to do right now
- List five steps that you need to take in order to accomplish that goal
- List five things that are going to stand in the way of pursuing your dreams
- Come up with a reasonable deadline
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Meet Veronica Cisneros
I’m a licensed therapist and women walk into my office every day stressed and disconnected. As a mom of three daughters, I want my girls to know who they are and feel confident about their future. I can’t think of a better way to help other women than by demonstrating an empowered and unapologetic life. So I started Empowered and Unapologetic to be a safe space for women to be vulnerable and change their lives for the better before she ever needs to see a therapist. Whether you listen to the podcast, join the free Facebook community, join the VIP community, or attend our annual retreat, you’re in the right place. Let’s do this together!
Thanks for listening!
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[VERONICA]: Empowered and Unapologetic is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a family of podcasts that changed the world. To hear other podcasts like the Bomb Mom podcast, Beta Male Revolution, or Imperfect Thriving, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network. Have you ever thought, how did I manage to lose myself? Being a mom is so hard, especially when we’re feeling stressed and disconnected. We exhaust ourselves trying to create this perfect life for our family. You deserve to enjoy your marriage and your kids, without the stress perfectionism brings. I am going to teach you how to identify who you are, outside of all of the roles you play. Hi, I’m Veronica Cisneros. I’m a wife, mother of three, and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I am on a mission to teach women, just like you, how to become empowered and unapologetic. Welcome to our girl gang. I was one month away from divorce. My husband and I were married for about four years and we had just had our daughter Aaliyah. She was born in August, and we separated in September. And so, in that moment, when we separated, I was not only heartbroken, but I was also just completely, completely defeated. Like, there was no way I was getting up from this, like, at all. That was my mentality. And in addition to that, everything that I had identified myself as – a wife, a mother, a marine’s wife, like, I was identified, that defined me; all of those roles defined me. And all of those roles were being stripped of me. My husband had filed for divorce. And I wasn’t ready to tell anyone at all, like, period. I wasn’t ready to tell my mom, I wasn’t ready to tell my best friends. I had five best friends. We knew each other since junior high. However, I wasn’t ready to share this with anybody because the minute I shared it; it was going to be real. The minute I stated that, I would say it out loud, it would be real, and I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready. And not only that, but this wasn’t gonna happen. I wasn’t gonna allow this to happen. And so, I tried, I tried everything, I mean, everything and I’m ashamed to say this, however, if it’s going to help somebody, I’m going to say it. I remember being at a point where he had come home. And he was grabbing all his stuff, he was packing it. And I remember being at a point to where I got down on my knees and I was begging him to stay. And I don’t think I’ve shared that with anybody. And I thought that he defined me. I thought that he was in control of me. And I had no power. I had no identity outside of this marriage. I was living a lie. I was living a lie. And he left. And this was a complete shock to me, because if you would have asked my friends who’s going to leave or who’s going to end of the relationship, everybody would have said, well, it’s gonna be [unclear]. It’s gonna be [unclear], [unclear] is gonna mess up, [unclear] is gonna leave, [unclear] is gonna be the one that files for divorce. And it wasn’t, it was Willie. And so here we are, separated. However, I wasn’t, like I said, I wasn’t ready for it to be real. And so, I just did my daily routines as I always did. And I was living on base housing, my husband was always gone because he was a drill instructor at the time. And a drill instructor – most of you guys know them as drill sergeants. However, if you know a Marine, then you know better than to call them a drill sergeant, you just know better. It’s just like, a rule. Don’t do it. Well, anyways, so he was a drill instructor. He was one of those people with the hats and just yelling and yelling at recruits, so he was always gone, like gone. So, I just treated it as if he was gone. And so, I remember there was this day that I went to the bank to go ahead and get cashier’s checks to pay our bills. And back then – this was a while ago, so back then we didn’t have online banking. We didn’t. This was about 16 years ago. Yeah. 16 years ago. And so there I am, waiting in line with a whole bunch of other Marines because it was payday. And it was a really, really long line. So, I’m in line, waiting to go up to the bank teller, finally make it to the bank teller. And you know, I’m going through my bills, I have my bills in hand. I was so organized, ladies. I mean, so organized. The minute she would give me a check, I would put it in, you know, the envelopes were already stamped, and everything was ready to go. So here I am ready to do my routine and go, give her my card. And, you know, she tells me, you know, ma’am, I’m sorry. You don’t have an account here. And she gave me attitude. So, guess what I did? I gave her attitude back. I was like, yes, I do, run that card again. And so, she ran that card again. And she’s like, no, ma’am, you don’t have an account here. And I was like, well, there must be some confusion, like, I’m here with my daughter and she’s in the car seat and those car seats back then were heavy. They were heavy. And I didn’t have her in the stroller because I had already had a bunch of things in my hand, and to get at the stroller and to get the car seat. Moms out there, you know what the struggle’s like. It would have probably been easier but going through those lanes, it was just hell. So, she’s there, she’s a little baby sitting in her car seat and this lady wants to argue with me about my damn account that she’s saying I don’t have, but I know I have it. And I tell her, I was like, well, lady, like, again, you’re mistaken. Here’s my husband’s information because it was a military bank. So, I’m giving her all of Willie’s information and she said, he has an account here. You don’t. Oh, my God. Oh my God. I don’t. What do you mean? She’s like, ma’am, you no longer bank with us. And she took my card. I just felt, like, what the hell am I going to do? I don’t have any money. I wasn’t working at the time; I had quit school. I quit school. I quit everything because, hello, I was married to marine and I had to support him. I had to do all of these things to build him up. And I was a mom, and I was all of these things. What do you mean? And it was then that I realized, girl, you’re gonna have to do this on your own, and you’re gonna have to figure something out and you’re gonna have to figure out something quick, because you have this baby. And so, I immediately called Willie and I yelled at him. I was like, dude, how can you do this? How could you do this? And I can’t tell you his exact reply. I can’t say it word for word. However, it went something along the lines of, well, I talked to my attorney and I’m going to be giving you a budget every week. And so, I’ll go ahead and drop off the money at the house. And so, you can use that to go ahead and buy whatever you need to buy. I’m going to take over the bills, but this is all the amount that I’m going to give you. And I cannot believe Willie had the damn balls to tell me that. I couldn’t believe it. Because in my mind, I had controlled him. In my mind, I had controlled the relationship. And that wasn’t true, and it is clear as day right now, as it’s happening. Up to that point, I had done everything. And although we were separated, anytime he called me, anytime he needed me, I was there. I was there. He would call me, he would come over, I was there with him intimately. I was there with him sexually. And I would compromise myself over and over, telling myself this lie that we’re going to get back together. And now I have no money. I have a baby. I have all of these things. I’m living on base housing. Are they going to kick me out? What’s going to happen? And I didn’t have any of the answers. I was so scared. And I realized I had to start making moves and I had to start making them quick. So, I got a job. And that felt good. I was scared. However, what the hell was I going to do for daycare? And I would drive from San Diego to Escondido, drop my daughter off with my mom and my dad, and then from Escondido, I would have to drive to Oceanside to go to work. And so that was my routine. I did that, I’d have to wake up crazy early to leave San Diego because there’s so much traffic. For those of you that live in Cali, going from San Diego to Escondido, it is a parking lot. Let’s just be honest. So, there I am. And I’m doing this every single day because I have to. I have to work. And then I decided okay, well, I have to go back to school. I mean, hello. So, there I am, I went back to school, I enrolled, you know, so I’m doing it. I’m in school, I’m working, and I have this baby. And little by little, I just started to feel a little bit better. But still, I’m not gonna lie, I still have the hopes of us getting back together. And then I started to tell my friends and my friends, they were just amazing. They were so amazing. They were there, they would come over to the house. I can call them at any time and girl, I’m gonna tell you right now I did. I would call my friend Marlene, like two o’clock in the morning and just cry and she would just hear me cry, because I couldn’t believe this was happening. And she was totally there for me. And I would do these things. And then my husband would call me and there I was, a slave to him. I would go back. Whatever he needed, I was there, I was doing. And there was this one time, it was at 9:30 at night, and he was calling me, and he was calling me to hook up, and I’d just picked up Aaliyah, because I had not only a long day at work, but also I was going to school. And that’s how late it was when I would pick her up. And so, I’m picking her up and I’m driving and Willie’s calling me. And I said, I’m not going to pick up this phone. I can’t be a slave to him anymore. So, I didn’t pick up. And then he called me again. And I’m not gonna lie to you, I wish I could say, oh, my gosh, this was so easy. I was like, whatever, I’m totally gonna ignore him. However, I’d be lying to you. I wanted to pick up that phone so badly. I just wanted to pick it up and just hope that maybe we can just, this can be fine, and everything would be fine. And we would be back together, and we would be a family and I wouldn’t have to do all these things. I wouldn’t have to struggle. And I said, no. So, I didn’t pick it up. He called me about 20-25 times. I didn’t pick up and each time it got easier. And I felt so good. I turned off my phone. The next morning, I went ahead and picked up the phone. I called him, he picked up right away. And mind you, he had a crazy busy schedule, and he picked up right away. And I had said to him, there’s no way I’m going to keep Aaliyah from you. So, if you want to see her, you’re more than welcome to. However, you need to schedule this with my mom because I can’t do this anymore. And I will be changing my phone number. You will not have access to it. If there’s an emergency, I will let my mom know and you will be the first person that’s contacted. However, from this point forward, if we’re going to get this divorce, then we’re going to get this divorce, and that’s it. And I wanted so badly to end the phone call with I love you. However, I didn’t, because I couldn’t. I couldn’t put myself in that situation anymore. I got off the phone and I decided it’s time to do this for me. It’s time to do this for me. I was so scared, and I still leaped. I realized the problem was, I gave him so much power to identify who I was and who I wasn’t. I realized this was a problem because it didn’t allow me to live. It kept me trapped. And the effects of that were significant because I had lost all sight of who I was. That was a choice I made. And I realized that I was making that choice back then. And hell no, no more. It impacted me significantly because I wasn’t going to be defined by somebody else. And even if that meant that I would be met with fear and rejection and self-doubt. I wasn’t gonna allow somebody to define me. I wasn’t going to do it. We have been married now for 20 years. As crazy as that sounds we have been married for 20 years and now we have three girls. And I’m going to tell you it was a journey. He had to do his own work, and so did I. And I had done my own work for, I’m going to tell you, it took me 10 years, went to therapy. Read all the books, I did all the things, positive affirmations, you name it, and none of those things were working for me, none of those things challenged me enough to get me to where I needed to be. So, I decided to create my own plan. And ladies, this is where we’re at because I’m going to teach you. We just have to know it’s possible. We just have to know it’s possible. And when I was going through it, I didn’t think it was possible. When I was going through it, I thought I was all alone. I thought I was all alone, and I was doing all of these things, and it was just… it felt lonely and scary. However, through practice, I realized it was possible. And so, in those 10 years, I ended up going back to school, I ended up graduating, getting my masters. And it just felt so amazing, so empowering. And in my private practice, I would meet with women, I would meet with women severely depressed, severely anxious, and some of them suicidal, all of them with the same problem: they didn’t know who they were. They couldn’t even answer the question, who are you? And I decided then and there, that although I wasn’t… I can’t tell you that, you know, during my time of, you know, the separation and the divorce, I can’t tell you that I was severely depressed. I can’t tell you that I was severely anxious because I wasn’t, I’d be lying. I did feel the sense of shame. I did feel the sense of sadness and stress. And I realized, these women, these women are at this place because they allowed it to get this far. And thank God I’m able, I’m now in a position where I can help them. However, how many other women are suffering silently? If I have hundreds of women coming into my office, and I’m helping them go through it, and I’m a part of their journey, and I’m teaching them, well, what if I can catch them right before they need therapy? What if I caught this one six months ago? What if I can establish a community where there are other women who can see that they’re not alone? What if I can do that? And that’s where Empowered and Unapologetic came to life. And so, ladies, I’m going to teach you four steps right now on how to become empowered and unapologetic. Get a pen and paper because it’s about to go down. In order to do something new, we have to practice it over and over, the feeling of fear subsides. If I want something, then I have to lean in and try and try and try. And I know that’s hard, especially when you’ve tried and tried and tried and tried and tried, and you’ve been met with failure, I get it. However, this works. This works with everything in life. So, your first step is understanding that perfectionism is a lie. What I’ve learned is, I just have to get it done, regardless of how, regardless of if it’s not my best work, it just has to get done. I used to have the mindset of if it’s not perfect, then I won’t submit it. I won’t be satisfied. And so, I would procrastinate, and I would wait to the last minute, and then I would just turn it in. Well, the reason why I would do that is because I had that excuse. Well, if it’s not good, it’s because I just did it. You know, and so it wouldn’t be such a hard hit. However, if I know in my heart, although it isn’t 100% and my heart’s in it, then it is worth showing to the world. Because I am worth being shown to the world. That is what I call being empowered. No one is going to give you permission, ladies. And we got to stop asking for it. And so, letting go of perfectionism, being able to just get it done. It doesn’t matter what it is, if it’s a homework assignment, if it’s cleaning up your house, if it’s applying for school, if it’s going to the gym, girl, just get it done. Go, try it. Try it and if you fail, congratulations, congratulations. Because guess what? You just learned something about yourself. You just learned something powerful and significant. That you didn’t die. You didn’t die. Sure, there’s emotions attached to it, however, you actually attempted it and you leaped, and you did it. How amazing is that? Try again and keep going. Step number two, you are in charge of your own destiny as long as you decide it’s time. You have this choice. You know, Eleanor Roosevelt said, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Girl. Holy moly. No one – I’m going to repeat it – no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. We are under the assumption that people have power over our feelings. Think about how often you say, you made me feel this way. You made me feel this way. She did this. She made me feel this way. And, you made me feel hurt. And, you did this. Girl, no, no, no, no, no. Think about how often you say that. No one can make you feel any way. It is an active choice. If you feel that way, it’s because you decided to feel that way, it’s because you’ve been triggered by something you never worked on. Yes, I’m calling you out. No one can make you feel any way. It’s a choice. Just like it’s a choice to go ahead and change it. If somebody triggers you, you get to do something about it. Sure, the feeling’s there. They didn’t make you feel that way, though. They don’t have power over you. Listen to what I say. They have zero power over you. I want you to write that down. No one has power over me. It’s an active choice I’m making. Which leads us to step three. I’m going to challenge you, as I do everybody, I’m going to challenge you to ride the wave of discomfort. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. Yes, it sucks. Yes, it’s scary. However, it is crucial that you ride this wave, otherwise you are going to stay stagnant. And I’m going to tell you right now, that’s the last thing I wanted to hear when I was going through it. However, had I sat in the discomfort, I wouldn’t have spent so many months at the mercy of my husband and his needs. I would have given myself permission to move forward and move on. And I would have equipped myself with enough support to do it. However, I let fear control me and I refused back then to feel all of these feelings and that just left me trapped. And guess what? The feeling lasted so much longer. If you ride that wave of discomfort, I’m going to tell you right now, the feeling will pass. I want to think about something – I want you to think about a boy that broke up with you, right? Or anybody that broke up with you back in fifth grade. So, if I take you back to fifth grade, I’m gonna tell you right now, that girl was an emotional wreck. However, where are you at right now? You’re not there anymore. That emotion passed. Guess why? Guess why? Because those emotions are temporary. They’re temporary. Ride the wave of discomfort. Step number four, decide what you want, write it down. And this is where we’re going to take it even further. I want you to list five goals. Five goals. Do it, right now. If you’re at the gym, girl, get your workout on and then… I’m not going to interrupt that workout because I know how that is. So, I’m not going to work it out. You go girl, get it. After though, you’re going to write this down. So, push pause, because you’re going to need to write all of this down, or get familiar with it. Whatever you want. If you’re driving, do not write and drive. Ladies, pull over, press pause, whatever the hell you need to do. But come back to this because this is where it gets really good. For those of you kicking back, sitting down, you have no excuses. Let’s go. Alright, you’re going to list five goals. Write them down. And then now, I want you to look at your five goals. And I want you to circle one of them. Which one are you ready to do right now? Circle an easy one. I know you’re badass and I know you want to go out and conquer the world. I get it. However, baby steps, baby steps. So, you’re going to circle that one. Now, I want you to go ahead and list all of the steps you need to take in order to accomplish that goal. What are they? List five steps. Once you’re done doing that, now I want you to go ahead and list five things that are going to stand in your way from pursuing your dreams. List them. What are five things that are going to get in your way? Is it time? Is it finances? Is it your insecurities? What are they? Be real and honest with yourself. Now, you’re also going to come up with a reasonable deadline – when can you expect to get this one goal complete? When can you do it? I want you to list that out. And I want it to be a reasonable date. Like, don’t say tomorrow, because that’s unfair. You know, if you tell me, Veronica… or, if I was to tell you, you know what, I’m going to go ahead and cut out all carbs from my diet, which is not healthy. However, you know, if I say I’m going to cut out all carbs from my diet, and I’m going to be carb free for an entire month. And by March, I’m going to be… that’s my deadline. I have until March and I’m going to be completely carb free and in March, that’s when I could get the carbs back. I’m gonna tell you right now, if you put an onion ring with ranch and ketchup on it, it’s on like Donkey Kong, I’m gonna fail, I’m gonna fail. It’s just too big and I’m not ready for it. So, I’m not going to set myself up for that type of failure. I want it. Of course, I can learn from it. However, I want this to be reasonable. And I want you guys to experience success. So, make it something reasonable. I’ve said that, like, five times. Did you hear me? Here you go. All right. Now, as you start to go ahead and begin this process, you’re going to see that it becomes easier and easier because you’re practicing something different. Bingo, you’re practicing something different and all of these steps are going to take you closer and closer to your goal. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you join my Empowered and Unapologetic group. That group is focused on exploring where you’re currently at right now. And we start to identify dysfunctional patterns in your current relationships and in your life. Now, for those that want to take it one step further, you’re going to join my VIP group. In that group, we actually take action. We lean into fear and challenge your insecurities. And I teach you step by step how to do this. In addition to that, each member has their own personalized roadmap to get to where they want and live unapologetically. Ladies, practice these steps and I want to hear from you. All right, ladies, I’m going to go ahead and end with this: what is your intent for today? Think about that. You don’t have to write this down. Just think about it. What is my intent for today? My intent for today is to be a present and intentional mother, to be a connected and understanding spouse, and to be empowered and unapologetic. Boom. All right, you guys, enjoy your day. And until next time, bye. What’s up, ladies? Just want to let you guys know that your ratings and reviews for this podcast are greatly appreciated. If you love this podcast, please go to iTunes right now and rate and review. Thank you, guys. Many women lose their own identity in the shadow of being a mom and a wife. We are a community of women who support each other. We leave perfectionism behind to become empowered and unapologetic. I know you’re ready for the next steps. If you want to become empowered and unapologetic, get my free course, Unapologetically Me over at empoweredandunapologetic.com/course. This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or the guests, are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.