On social media there is a #MeToo campaign showing up after the latest Hollywood producer has been accused of multiple acts of sexual harassment. “Me too” is telling the social media world that this is a bigger problem then many people care to admit. Admitting me too, helps society open their eyes to see that this is not just a Hollywood problem. Since, I put myself out on this blog and on social media, I had no problem admitting me too. This is not something for me to be ashamed of because I wasn’t the perpetrator. I wasn’t the one doing anything wrong.
I spent as a national sales trainer in the indoor tanning industry. I wasn’t prepared for what I found on my life on the road. Having to attend countless events there was ALWAYS someone trying to use their power to get their sexual wants met. Where I had problems, I was fortunate enough to have protectors too. I started traveling for work at age 20. I wasn’t innocent to the ways of men. I knew a lot more than I care to admit. I had a fake engagement ring that I would wear on the road. This of course didn’t deter some predators, but I have been known to be too nice, so it helped me to feel confident enough without making me feel like I was leaving someone feeling rejected. Yes, I actually thought like that.
One of my worst memories was when the president of a large company I worked with on the road let people think that he slept with me. I was trying to make a name for myself and I hadn’t used my sexuality to gain any footing. I worked my butt off to get where I was. I even made sure to dress professionally without ever revealing too much just to solidify the point. I tried to go to him and he thought it was great that people thought he could be with a “young thing like me.” Yes, those words were burned in my head. I was no longer a person.
That incident led many people to question how I got to all the places I did. Another man I worked with, a devoted husband and father, was put under a microscope and many of his employees and industry members started spreading word that we were having an affair. I knew this man’s wife and children. There was NO WAY he or I would have EVER thought about even considering betraying any of them. He never made or treated me in any way that was disrespectful. Yet, he was treated like he was guilty. All for taking someone under his wing who was passionate about being the best in her industry. THAT SUCKED!!!
Eventually, I left the industry because I had slowly become a person I didn’t like anymore. I started acting in ways that weren’t as professional as I had tried so hard to maintain in the years prior. I became lost. I left the industry to move to a place where the majority of my long time childhood friends lived. I was defeated in many more ways than one. I did a few more speaking gigs and one more convention. The life didn’t fit me anymore and I was so tired of having to work against an image that was created for me by some guy who couldn’t care less about who I was as a person. I wasn’t a person: I was a “thing.”
I loved public speaking. I loved helping people become the best versions of themselves. I was good at what I did. I was proud of what I had accomplished with many of the young people I worked with in salons and at conventions. I loved traveling the country and meeting so many wonderful people. I was sad to leave. There were many layers to me leaving the industry when I did, not all having to do with the industry itself. I just happened to focus on the bad stuff at the time to rationalize being in an unhealthy relationship where the man I was with treated me like garbage: Hmmmm… a thing…garbage. The progression wasn’t obvious to me then, but it is now. I had to overcome A LOT to begin to love myself again to stop treating myself like a thing and/or garbage. Only then, around 15 years later, did I finally start to heal.
Now, I don’t accept or tolerate men and/or women abusing their ASSUMED power. We are all humans and no one deserves to be treated like they are less than anyone else. I’m no better or worse than my fellow human. My beliefs, interests, profession, position, color, sexuality, sex, and any other thing a person can come up with, is not a reason for me to feel more or less than anyone else. I am me. There is only one of me who lives life exactly like I do. My biggest accomplishment in life is that no matter what life throws at me, I love more. I don’t ever want anything that happens to me to get me to close my heart and stop being there for my fellow human. I love being the friend people come to when they want support. I love being the stranger a person just opens up to walking down the street. I love writing my story; so another person doesn’t feel alone. I love to be love.
I’m not always love, sometimes fear takes over and I can worry like the best of them. I can awfulize my decisions and choices in being a parent, partner, friend, and contributing member to society. I’m not perfect, none of us are. I accept that in myself and in others. This doesn’t mean I will put up with unacceptable behavior. I won’t. I make the best choices I can to keep the people I love and myself safe from harm whether it be emotional and/or physical. I get plenty of help along the way to make choices that impact multiple lives. I trust in God to lead me to all the right places and people to learn the lessons I need to make me the person I want to be. I don’t have to accept people treating me like a thing or garbage. I admit me too, but the situations I survived will not define me. They will only make me stronger and better. I learned from the experiences before me to be kinder to myself and not to accept unacceptable behavior. My hopes is that by admitting me too, just maybe it might plant a seed to help someone else become the best version of her or himself, no matter what happened to them in the past.
With Love and Gratitude,
Rachael Wolff ©2017