You don’t know what you don’t know.
I once spoke at a Women’s Conference called “Business in Heels,” a well-attended one-day event in a beautiful setting. I felt fortunate to be included in their agenda. Not only did I make several new friends, but I learned a bit more about women in business locally and what they are achieving.
The program cover featured slender beautiful legs donned by a pair of hot pink pumps – not exactly my attire, and at the top of my presentation, I told the audience that I hoped next year’s event would be titled “Business in Flip-Flops” – this warranted a low chuckle from the nearly all-female crowd but got me thinking about expectations and how business and life has changed over the last ten to fifteen years. Many women, like myself, and men are fortunate enough to work from home, for a company or running a small business.
Not one morning of my adult, working life have I awakened thinking, “Oh damn, I am a woman, therefore – my day in the world of business will be tougher than if I were a man. How can I fight this injustice?” I simply thought, “Oh damn, the price of Lucky Charms and gas went up again — I need to work even harder so I can afford to be a mom.” Much of my struggles are no different than other single moms or dads, as well as multiple two-income homes.
Life is expensive, whether or not you have a family.
I Made Choices
Life as a single mom is not easy, but I never had time to dwell on those difficulties. Fifteen years ago, it was normal for me to fall asleep at my computer, writing and working until 1 to 2 am, only to rise by 6 am to get four kids out the door. The end of a couple marriages, surviving a couple controlling relationships that included all kinds of often unspoken abuse, returning to college to get my biz degree, getting a great job then losing my home to foreclosure, being fired from a job I thought was great, unemployment or underemployment for extended periods of time, being drugged but escaping sexual assault while on a business trip, and yet another broken heart….
It’s been tough and I have not been shy about writing and sharing these tough times. The best part? Others have let me know that I am not alone – men and women who have have similar experiences have messaged or connected with me to share their own stories. We all have our individual paths paved with thorns. I readily recognize the responsibility I bear when it comes to my lot in life and the cards I have been dealt. Some of my choices have added to my struggle, there is no denying.
I Am Becoming More and More Aware
With the continued fights against racism and bias, as well as other injustices like LGBTQ prejudices, domestic abuse, and un-equal pay, a resounding personal awareness has come to light.
The fight must be fought by ALL,
not just those who suffer from injustice.
No one who hears my story can believe that I was once an abused wife. “You are such a strong woman, how did you ever let that happen?”
It didn’t happen overnight. It was years of conditioning – of guilt, regret, of “this is my lot”, and how could I possibly ever leave? No academic degree and four mouths to feed. I never thought I could leave until a man, actually several men who were family friends, told me I deserved better. None of my women friends told me to leave. Afraid to get involved? Afraid to break up a family, like I was?
The decision to leave became real when I finally realized it wouldn’t change, it wouldn’t get better, and that one of us would soon be dead. That is a frightening realization. One of us would be dead.
I didn’t want that someone to be me. I needed to be here for my kids. I had more life to live. And I didn’t deserve it, no matter what I had done or not done – I didn’t deserve to be beaten on a regular basis or fear for my life during the next drinking binge. I deserved better.
Sharing the Strength
The strength of those not subjected to abuses, racism, or discrimination must be shared with those who do suffer, undeservedly or not. If you can be a voice, a hand, a lift – please be that voice and that hand. It is not our place, my place, to remain silent when your/my voice or strength can make a difference.
One more thing…
My fire or passion may not burn within you – and that is ok — we are all in the place or getting to the place where we need to be. It is a journey. My journey – my path – is different than yours.
And if I can share anything, please remember:
Just because you do not see or experience injustice
or inequality yourself doesn’t mean it does not exist.
I never had a bruise on my face, but there were plenty on the back of my head and in my heart. Lift where you can. Shed light where it is dark. You may be saving the heart or life of your best friend, your brother or sister, your child.
You don’t know what you don’t know.