Cristina was raised around the hustle and bustle of busy Manhattan. Her parents’ tempestuous relationship left her feeling alone on most days. They provided the best life possible on modest salaries. Her folks worked office jobs to ensure their schedules allowed them to come home for dinner most evenings.
Every weekday evening her father walked in the door with a dark cloud over his head. He waved hello on his way in, eyebrows low wearing a frown that reflected misery. On days like this, she wasn’t sure if his brooding was from the weight of family responsibilities or a job he hated going to each day. Either way the feeling of being invisible was one she knew all too well. She could almost walk into the family room without being noticed, a ghostly presence blanketed his space. His shadow was the only thing that seemed to matter. His demonstrated dismay at the sight of her mother unmistakably created more tension.
Cristina’s mother never complained but her eyes reflected a sadness she eerily understood. The two related to each other not only out of kinship. The pain shared was being caused by the same man. The love for their daughter was never questioned neither was the obvious fact; her parents could barely stand each other. Their relationship left an imprint on Cristina not easily removed. She learned to silence unhappiness and dissatisfaction to ensure the preservation of the state of affairs. Growing up in a household where she felt so repressed led to many insecurities. These resulted in relinquishing the power to voice her feelings for the sake of peace. This sacrifice affected all areas of her life including her career. She became the woman who accepted what was giving to her instead of grabbing hold of that which she deserved.
How many women do we know unable to express their emotions? How many of our sisters, friends and mothers have suppressed years of unhappiness in their relationship or job because they didn’t want to “rock the boat”? We’ll play it safe, cross our fingers hoping a manager will take notice of the good work being done. This will be the year we don’t get passed up for the chance of upward mobility. Right!
Can we talk about the wives and girlfriends staying in marriages or partnerships that cripple them emotionally? She isn’t completely happy but who is these days? Yes, true -happiness isn’t a place we arrive that resembles nirvana. True joy originates within; it derives from the freedom authenticity gives us. If we don’t use the power of speech to communicate our need for change or talk about the things that are important to us we’ll never feel fulfilled. Instead we may find ourselves unable to shake the feeling we’re being shortchanged.
We must build the confidence and inner-strength to shatter the glass ceilings in both life and work. We don’t have to accept barriers placed in our path to personal and professional growth. If we cannot go through them, find ways to go around them. Otherwise, we’ll forever remain on our tip toes trying to reach for the sky.
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