On Her Shoulders

This post is borne out of a series of intentional conversations I've had with several friends of mine--my "second" moms, my sisters. I wanted to listen and to learn. This is my humble tribute to those stories and the struggles expressed in them. A sincere thank you to those who shared with me, and also to writers like Sarah Bessey, Rachel Held Evans, and Emily Maynard for not only informing some of the content of this post but inspiring me to open my eyes and ears to what my friends have gone through their entire lives.

Please feel free to nudge me where I've gone wrong or have misrepresented you, and definitely share and add your experiences and thoughts.


tessfrancephoto credit: tessa marie images

The guilt trips for wanting to pursue a career instead of staying at home with the kids.

The condescension for wanting to stay at home instead of doing something "that matters."

The surplus of "I love your outfit," and the deficiency of "I love your ideas."

The disarming of her credibility because she must be too emotional. She's a woman, after all.

The backhand of having the characteristics, qualities, and strengths of men built up and encouraged at the expense of her own characteristics, qualities, and strengths.

The ache from her lack of opportunities when the same ones are available to men with similar skill sets.

The label of controversial or divisive for speaking her mind.

The accusation of being controlling for having strong opinions.

The demonization for identifying herself as a feminist.

The catcalls of the men standing outside of the drug store.

The full-body scan by probing eyes that's felt even with her back turned. Especially with her back turned.

The burning brand of Jezebel, skank, slut, and whore when all he gets is "that's just boys being boys."

The iron chains of responsibility for a man's lust.

The blame for turning men into animals.

The shame of "She was asking for it."

The helplessness of being violated, invaded by some of the men she trusted most.

The lie that her lost virginity is a permanent stain, an irreversible corruption of her "purity," a damaged, ravaged flower beyond restoration while he "just made some mistakes."

The bruises of Bible verses used as bludgeons to make her feel less than.

The blood trickling down her face from too many people who haven't hesitated to cast the first stone.

The vice of catch-22's.

The drumming of double standards.

The shackles of archaic structures.

The anxiety, the disorders, the tears.

The dreams, the hopes, the joy.

The strength to keep smiling.

The grace to keep forgiving.

The perseverance to keep striving.

She has carried it all--in her bones. In her heart. On her lips. On her shoulders.