It Takes a Catalyst

 

The tweet below by Dr. April C. Armstrong ignited one of the most thought-provoking conversations on Twitter today.

It’s easy to dismiss what someone says if you don’t particularly like that person. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a polarizing character. However that speech she gave resounded with women across all aisles. And no one echoed my thoughts about what she said more than Dr. April C. Armstrong in this tweet.

I didn’t realize I’d been raised to accept abuse. Not only from men, but in general, and that did spill over into my earlier relationships with men, even into some of my earlier friendships, and too often in my early work environments with some toxic bosses and colleagues.

We’re all products of our upbringing, sometimes more than we recognize, and it was only when I was around certain men — my father-in-law, my husband, and my brothers-in-law –that I fully realized how a man should treat a woman, and how a woman should expect to be treated.

But, here’s the Catch 22: The woman I was when I met my current husband is not the same woman I was when I met my first husband, or even my second. It’s a fact of human nature that we draw to us the kind of people we think we deserve. They come into our lives, and it’s up to us to be strong enough to push them back out again if they’re toxic. By that very act of pushing away, we’re changed for the better. But if we can’t force our way out of our ‘damaged zone’ long enough to push them away, we remain stagnant in our growth. And if we remain stagnant in our growth, we remain in our damaged zone forever, drawing the same toxicity to us again and again.

This is why bad things have to happen sometimes, in order for good things to follow. With AOC, if he hadn’t cursed at her and then refused to apologize, she wouldn’t have made that speech. If she hadn’t made that speech, none of us women would be thinking about our own experiences with men, and no man would be re-evaluating how he was taught to treat women or what he learned was an acceptable way to treat women.

It takes a catalyst. We can ignore the catalyst, or we can truly examine its meaning in our lives. I think that’s true of everything that happening in our world right now. They’re all catalysts from which we can hide, or from which we can change and grow into better humans.

 
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