I’ve been thinking about what I owe to the sisterhood of women, especially the sisterhood of young women. I am reflecting on the ways in which we have failed to give them what they need. Young women,we have not wanted you to see the truth of the young women we once were.We are ashamed of our imperfection. We have feared your judgement so we invented new, sanitized identities and masqueraded our inauthentic selves in front of you.That’s a roundabout way of saying to you “Sorry we lied.” You sensed the dishonesty even though you did not know the truth of it.
We demanded your obedience over honesty. We left you alone to navigate your way from adolescence without much support, understanding or mentoring, for there was no way to mentor a lie. We were clumsy with our language. We relied upon laying down the law rather than shepherding you into adulthood. You rebelled. In our frustration over your willful rebellion we issued threats of what would happen to you for failing to heed our advice. We concluded that if you would not listen then you would have to feel. We called you “hard headed”, and in truth you have been. You on the other hand had to rebel, had to shout to us to be heard. You wanted us to know that you were no longer a child to be dictated to.You needed transitional parenting, not the heavy handed variety we offered. What a dilemma we now find ourselves in.
This letter is to the women who are in love with “bad boys”. We won’t knit-pick over the definition of a “Bad Boy”. Suffice to say, the Bad Boys are the men who flirt with dangerous lifestyles.To the women who flirt with these men just for the “rush” you get from walking near the fire, this conversation is not directed to you, nor is this directed towards those who use their association with “Bad Boys” in order to impress friends and gain status.You are already getting the payoff you want.
I speak to those women who love these men. Perhaps you loved him long before he got “caught-up”, and you would never consider leaving him now. Perhaps you entered the fray to prove how much you loved him. It may be that you respect him for the good you see in him. He may be the best man you have ever met. He may be committed to being a great father and a man of his word. Whatever your personal story is, if you love him, then I wish to speak to you.
I would imagine that when you close your eyes and think of the two of you, you see a couple who are old enough and free enough to go wherever you choose.You have dreams of creating a life for yourselves. If you are still living at home surely you dream of having a place of your own, a place where the two of you create the kind of lives you want.You want to travel with him. You want him to look out for you. You want to know he is safe. You want to be able to plan things, you need someone to share the babysitting and the bills,in short, you want a life! You have to be alive to have a life. Your child deserves to have a father who is free, free from the group controlling him, free from worrying about the police looking for him, just plain free. Free to think about tomorrow, free to think about you. You want a man to look up to, a man with a dream and a love for his children so strong that he is committed to staying alive, more than proving how tough he is. You want a live man not a corpse, you want a wedding one day, not a funeral.
When you whisper in his ear what do you say? Do you love him enough to say the hard things? Are you in there fighting for the man you care about? Are you making plans, saving money to help him buy a ticket to the UK if that’s what it takes, or are you using the money he gives you to buy KFC every day, clothes you don’t need and jewellery? Are you sure you love him? Do you have a plan? Are you adult enough to know that the longer he stays connected to the lifestyle, the greater is the chance that he will die?
You have entered into the world of Women. I apologize for the failure of your elders to properly welcome you to this place equipped with all the tools you need. If we had found the courage to tell the reality of our story rather than dishing up a sanitized false view of ourselves, you would love us more and fight with us far less. Never- the- less we are here now, and it is from this place that we learn to understand ourselves and heal. We are not your enemy.
A woman who is loved by a man has great influence in his life. With this influence comes huge responsibility. What you say to him matters. How you say it matters. Why you say it matters. Take time out by yourself to think about what you want for your life, and what you really want to say to him. Once you have decided, you must do what is required of you.Do not say it to him at night, in the dark. Don’t say it under the covers or with a glass of wine or a refer in your hand. You must find the courage to stand up and say it in the cold light of day. Look him in the eye when you say it, not when he is watching television or texting his friend. Stand up for the future you want to share with him. He must hear you say that you will not stand by and wait for him to die.Tell him what he needs to hear, not what you think he wants to hear. All the crying at the funeral is wasted tears. Today is your day for courage and truth. Tell him you believe in him, that you know his good heart was made to do more than live this lifestyle. Love him enough to look him in the eye and say what must be said . Say it, and say it, and say it again.