Hey. I’ve got something to tell you. Our Share the Show Up outreach program is probably the most important and influential thing I could ever hope the MommaStrong brand does. The work Barbie and I do for women-in-need - holy crap. Incredible. BUT.
But, this is what needs to be said:
The system for the recovery of women-in-need and for heir road to prosperity is totally screwed. Now, I’m not saying it’s not essential, I’m just saying that it’s deeply flawed and the reality is that most of the women with which we work will NOT get out of the system and will NOT recover. And the agencies that work with these valuable members of our world simply can’t get a leg up. They work so hard. So hard. And most of that work is just putting out fires.
Now, again, I’m not saying these agencies aren’t doing good work. No way. They are invaluable and they do save/change/rehabilitate women every single day. But, as a minor player in that good work, I feel it my responsibility to move past the grand old awesome feeling that “charity” and “service” gives us and let you in on the secret no one is willing to say. We have to do better. We have to make some changes. We can’t be blind to the fact that we are STILL servicing women-in-need in ineffective ways. We have to wake up to the fact that these agencies aren’t being funded enough, they are riddled with red-tape in terms of what kinds of programs and treatment their populations receive, and they are a forgotten demographic, left to dangle on postage-stamp-sized life rafts in a tsunami.
Barbie and I walk out from every session at these agencies with a pardox of fulfillment and total frustration. We see so much potential. We see the staff giving their lives to these women and these agencies. We see women light up with health after our sessions. And then we also see that so much has yet to be done. We see the revolving door of poverty and survival-mode stress. We see the lack of adequate psychological care and basic need care, like nutrition and exercise. We see that their living environments are beyond depressing and bordering on entirely unlivable. And we see a whole lot of institutional discrimination that pervades any real progress in the realm of women-in-need.
Let’s take a moment and remember for a second that we all have underlying assumptions about these populations. If you can’t admit your own bias here, than you’re not being honest. You acquired a language of have and have-nots since the moment you were born. So, get that over with and just know that you are, in some way, biased - and you do, in many ways, have assumptions about these women. But, what Barbie and I know is that these women are no different than us. The only difference between you and them is that they were born into a different stratosphere than you, period. Their bad choices are the same as yours, just inside a different container and often minus the safety net you were fortunate enough to have for whatever reason, whether it be socioeconomic, race, parental health, or mental health. They choose to numb out in many of the same ways you do every single day, but their cushion for normal human mistakes is literally a bed of nails, whereas yours is a tempurpedic mattress.
So, we need to start waking up from the amazing fuzzy, do-gooder veil that “charity” work can give us all. And we need to all start getting a bit more active in enacting and supporting real change to a system that neglects, punishes, and discriminates women who are just like you, but need so much more love and support than you could ever imagine.
And while I wish I could say that donating money and time to this problem is enough, I really don’t think that’s the first major point of activation and change. I think it has to start with waking up and with being brave enough to take impeccable care of yourself so that you can be awake. Why? Because that is the greatest and most amazing privilege you and I have. Even if YOUR life is shit and even if YOUR problems are hugely devastating, the fact that you are reading this means that you have the burden of ability to wake up.
Let me paint a picture for you: In a recent Share the Show Up session with a rehabilitative facility (which shall remain nameless) for sex-trafficked young women, we walked in with naive excitement. We couldn’t wait to witness the incredible work that was being done for this population. And within the first 5 minutes of being there, that excitement was replaced by rage, shock, and helplessness. These girls - and they are girls - were not being given adequate psychological care for trauma. Their rehabilitation was not being serviced in a way nurturing of their past, namely in that many of the workers on the premise were adult males (seriously, WTF). And, the administration and powers-that-be were clearly using very old school punitive measures to address their situation.
PUNITIVE MEASURES. For young girls who have been sex-trafficked in the most dangerous situations that even the most harrowing movies couldn’t illustrate. Young girls whose trauma is so severe that they are developmentally stunted at a toddler level. Young girls who have never known safety, maternal love, or a single day without terror.
I can’t and won’t share the details of some of the worst things we witnessed during our two hours there, but all I can say is that while I would never consider my time spent with that agency a waste, I also have to say it kind of was that day. There were not epiphanies to be had or teaching moments to hang our hats on. It was simple and utter exposure to the reality that this part of the care for women in the world is broken.
So, when I say to you that the number one thing you can do to change the world is to wake up, I mean it. Why? Because you have the opportunity to do so. Because your mental status hasn’t been altered irreparably by severe trauma. Because your problems, while big and not to be dismissed, have solutions. Because you have options, even if you think you don’t. Because you can get up each morning and agree to workout, eat better, skip the numbing out behaviors, be present and playful for your children, and take risks that equal fulfillment. Because you are not a ghost in a abysmal punative environment. Because you can fucking get your shit together, no matter how bad it is.
And I say all this while also letting you know that I have a story of trauma and drama myself. I have extreme stress right now in my life that feels paralyzing and that warrants total numbing out. And I’m sure you do too. But, I’m gonna call myself out and say that I need to get over myself and I need to stop taking myself so seriously and I need to grab hold of the privilege I have right now that affords me even the breath and the possibility of waking up and being a better human in every way I can.
If you can stand in a pair of sneakers in a room in your house and if you can do jumping jacks for more than 30 seconds, than you are also in this privilege with me. And you have to wake up. You have to. That’s the first step to changing the system. To overriding dictators about to be elected and to helping these women find their way to a pair of sneakers in a room of their own.
We can help. And I know it sounds completely stupid to suggest you join a fitness challenge in regards to this diatribe, I also know - because of what the work you will do in these 30-Days - it’s actually completely brilliant. And I know, from experience, that if you are willing to give merely 15-minutes a day to your awakened, strong, powerful self, you can change your world and the world. Join us this September for The Hook. Get your sh*t together, wake up, and help us share your show up to the amazing women who need you.