66: Owning Your Space

66: Owning Your Space

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Empowered Woman

Owning Your Space

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I come from a long line of women

Who suck in stomachs

And wear painfully large smiles

Who punish themselves at dinner

For eating lunch

Voices like wisps of wind

Silence that echoes down generations

Ever shrinking, they collect leaves and dirt

In matted hair from dragging themselves low

To make men feel taller on our family tree

That’s why when I met you

I was scared to take up too much space

I tried to concave and let you grow from the hallowed ground

Of my hungry core

But you didn’t mind that I filled a room

I was terrified to show you the hoarded opinions and dreams

I had stored in my back closet

(I had always meant to throw them out when I fell in love — to make room for yours)

But you just asked to see them

Now they occupy our walls like works of art

When I shrink

As is habit

You offer a ladle full of courage like a reminder

That the bigger I get

The stronger I get

The wiser

Healthier

The more I grow

The more we flourish

You say

The taller I stand

The more of me

you can see

“and baby I love this view”

You chuckle in the crook of my neck

I hope one day my daughters will smile and say

“I come from a line of strong-willed women who aren’t afraid to own their space”

And the pictures on their trees

will start with you and me.

~Crystal Birmingham-Overmeyer

More stories from our partners