Go High, Ladies
The three-part intention of this blog is to connect with fellow mamas and badass women along their paths, to share our experiences and our hearts openly, and to employ empathy to empower and encourage one another.
But, here's a little secret: I find that really fucking hard. Yeah. Really. Fucking. Hard. Because sometimes we ladies make it hard to like each other. We seduce and sleep with each other's men. We fight each other for finite space under the glass ceiling. We dissect each others' bodies in magazines, on screens and in real life. We judge each other harshly as mothers, as colleagues and as friends.
Sweeping generalizations, yes. Not every woman does these things, no. But sadly, my personal experience of betrayal by my Ex with multiple other women (like, ten) has shown me that ladies do not always support ladies. And I have not always been kind to my fellow ladies.
When a woman hurt me by sleeping with the Love of My Life-now-Ex, I would lash out venomously to hurt her tenfold. Under the weight of unbearable shame, sadness, anger, jealousy and grief, I sought only to return the pain and stun the other woman far, far into retreat. I did not do this to every woman he slept with — some were never worth my words — but many of them felt my wrath.
Clearly, this led nowhere. I never stopped to think that each of those women was only as human as I am, tempted to take a bite of the same fascinating but poisonous fruit that I myself bit into willingly. I am no different than any of them, and that always made me cringe in self-hatred.
That's not fair.
I often found myself confused in the aftermath of my sting, wondering if I attacked those who hurt me under the belief that I was protecting them from what was inevitably ahead. Or if I was willing them directly into the same fate that I have found too excruciatingly painful to bear, praying against a deity I don't hold myself accountable to that my now-Ex would also cause them pain as some sort of retaliation. A deserved payback.
Either way, it is women who collectively lose. Lose trust. Lose faith. Lose sisterhood. I never blamed the other women more than the man at the center of the triangle, but I did blame them equally.
And usually, that wasn't fair, either.
I recently had a conversation with one of these women. She — a stranger — first reached out to me via direct message in the wake of the early days of the drawn-out, dramatic dissolution of my relationship, offering kind words and empathy (as many of you have through this blog, for which I am always humbled and grateful). However, less than a year later, I found out that she was engaged in a cyber-sexual relationship with my Ex. A should-be-mind-boggling turn of events, but one that was unfortunately all too familiar to me.
I engaged her in conversation to explain that she could not simultaneously follow along with my life on Instagram and send photos of her vagina to my Ex. Boundaries.
I went into the conversation angry and full of the usual venom, but I left it aware of her humanity. The conversation was tense, but calm, as she explained herself. It turned out that she was hurt deeply by the love of her own life, and had carelessly crossed this boundary as a self-validating distraction. The 'why' didn't particularly matter; she is one of tens of women engaged with him in this way at any particular time and the 'why' is consistently unsatisfying and unoriginal. But by the end of this exchange we both acknowledged that in another time and place, we would have probably been great girlfriends, and I was inspired by the reminder that we always have a choice.
In each and every moment, we can go high — as the Former First Lady of the United States, the ever-graceful Michelle Obama, reminded us — or we can go low.
We can go high and pause to consider each other, listen to each other and respect each other. We can let each other journey along our individual paths, learning our own lessons without interference, and be gentle with each other when those paths may collide.
Or we can go low and attack, accuse, compete with and judge each other. Let men step between us and break our bonds of sisterhood, and seek to negatively influence the trajectory of each other's paths.
In every moment, we have a choice.
I was also at a professional networking event for women recently where four women in statewide leadership roles doled out advice for those of us making our way up the food chain. It was funny, it was inspiring, it was endearing and it was heartwarming, really. I find that any time a group of women assemble with positive intention, the result is both incredibly powerful and magical. We females are a force... if only we consistently channeled it for good.
Perhaps I've been operating in the wrong circles. It goes without saying that I've been attached to the wrong men (because yes, I have finally at least realized that if a man or his influence inspire you, as a woman, to be hateful toward other women, then something is wrong and he is not a real man).
But now, because I have been so hurt so many times in so many ways by other women, and have at other points hurt other women myself, I seek to better understand why we do this to each other. I seek to forgive and bring peace to my own heart and others'. I may never fully understand why we, as women, have yet to fully succeed in rising above the negativity to link arms, hold hands and put each other first. But I will hold myself accountable to keep trying.
Thus the purpose of this blog. Its mission is my own personal mission. As many times as I fall (or fall short), I will stand up and reconnect to my intention to empathize, empower and encourage other women to rise from the ashes, too.