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White Knights & Pink Pigs

Our guest author today is Lindsay Frucii, a recent guest on my Blog Talk Radio program, Writing Strong Women and the author of The Pig & Me-a powerful story of her ‘knight’ and the journey of a very strong woman.

In 1989 when a personal bankruptcy robbed her family of financial security, Lindsay decided the way back to marital and family bliss was to start a business that would make gobs of money. Out of the mantra “there must be something I can do”€ and a passion for fat-laden, fudgy brownies that made it hard to zip her jeans, an idea was born: healthy brownies for the masses. In a leap of faith borne on the wings of innocence and naivete, she founded No Pudge! Foods, Inc., and began an unexpected whopper of a roller coaster ride.

Be warned, this post is a little long, so if you can’t finish it in one sitting, mark it and come back and finish. It is well worth your time.

The fairy tale is an enviable, business success story. The reality is the story of a woman who was raised hearing “You can’t” and found, to her surprise and great satisfaction, she could – and then some.

As a little girl, I always knew exactly what my life would be like when I grew up. After high school I would learn a trade and live at home until my white knight came along. You know, the tall, handsome dude on the white horse. The one who would carry me off to a big house with a white picket fence where I would be his wife and raise our children. His job would be to earn a good living and take care of me because God knows, as a woman, I wouldn’t be able to take care of myself.

When the white knight didn’t come along as planned, I was left feeling insecure and lost. On my 25th birthday, my older sister – who’d married right on cue at twenty-one and had two babies in two years – cheerfully informed me that I was officially an old maid. As I approached my 28th birthday, still single, it suddenly hit me that I was tired of waiting for that damn knight. Suddenly hit me. As in never crossed my mind before.  You know it’s almost embarrassing to write that, but it’s the God’s honest truth. I was twenty-seven and a half years old before I first thought that maybe it was time to stop waiting. Waiting for the damn knight. Waiting for someone to create a home with. Waiting for someone else to make me happy. Waiting to play the role I’d been raised to believe I’d be a failure without.

So I quit my job as a nurse, got an entry-level job in Corporate America, started making a lot more money and damn, didn’t that knight show up. He was driving a Saab Turbo instead of riding a white horse, but he was tall and handsome, had a great job, owned his own house and at 29, was still – incredibly – single.  Boo Yaa!

You’re probably thinking, “She’s a little slow, but at least she finally got it” and assuming that my knight and I married and had little knights (we did). It also makes sense you believe I’d grown enough by then that our marriage was one where we both considered me a strong and equal partner. Ah…. No.

My husband had been raised to view our roles in the same way I had and once our first son was born, we both slipped unknowingly right back into them. It turns out that roles ingrained in you since birth don’t disappear, they simply submerge, waiting to rear their ugly heads at the first sign of weakness.

I adore the role of being a mother. To this day being a mother to my two sons is, without a sliver of doubt, the role that makes me happiest. But the role of unequal wife? Not so much. The lack of equality was not an in-your-face, you-are-the-subservient-wife thing and it was never conscious on either of our parts. It was just the way it was. For me it translated into a frequent sense of discomfort – like the costume I’d been handed was too heavy, too scratchy and too confining. I wore it for fourteen years before rebelling. What can I say? I’m a slow learner…

I was forty-four when I began to tear the costume off. We were going through a difficult financial and emotional time. Not an optimal time for rebellion, but when the voice inside you finally wakes up and screams ENOUGH! – you listen.

I decided I wanted to start a business – telling myself I was doing it to help my husband and family financially. But where I saw a golden opportunity, my husband saw a money pit and the harder I pushed, the stronger his resistance. I dug in my heels, telling myself I was going to prove him wrong. But that feeling quickly became an overpowering need to prove to myself that I didn’t have to live the life that others had designed for me. As I began to evolve and grow, my marriage struggled to do the same. The process almost tore us apart, but today our relationship is stronger and happier. We are, in every sense of the word, partners.

I now know that life is too short to be wasted trying to live the life that others expect you to live. That said, I also know the feeling of terror that accompanies the beginning of rebellion and understand all too well how hard it is to break out of a role you feel super-glued into. But we all deserve to live our life. The life that brings joy and freedom and gratitude – not the one that breeds exhaustion and resentment and envy.

It’s a difficult and scary journey, but by taking it a one-small-step-at-a-time it’s far less overwhelming. And if you are stuck, it’s a journey that must be made.

I broke free one tiny step at a time. Moving forward at a slow pace but always moving towards the me I was meant to be. The journey isn’t easy – I’m still on it – but if I can do, so can you.

So you see, readers, white knights can also take the form of pink pigs.

Readers, share your own tale of strength and courage by adding your comment to the post.  Indeed, white knights come in all colors, shapes and odors!

And a special thanks to white knight Jessica Sinn at Chick Lit Cafe  for recommending Lindsay as a guest on Writing Strong Women.

 

14 Comments Post a comment
  1. Wow! Lindsay, you are truly an inspiration. It takes a lot of courage to pursue a dream in defiance of naysayers On a personal note, I grew up in a very negative environment and always thought of myself as an airhead. My mother used to “joke” about how I need to get my paper hat ready for my career in fast food. One day I snapped and decided to show the world that I am indeed smart! So i worked my way through college and graduated magna cum laude. Boo yeah! I had a lot of self-doubt along the way, but I after conquering that goal, I had the confidence to pursue a career in writing. Your story encourages me to continue pushing the envelope and to always listen to my inner voice.

    January 18, 2012
    • Me, too, Jessica! I was always told if anyone was going to fail at something it would be me. Well, I finally figured out at 40 I wasn’t stupid and ended up graduating with honors all while raising 4 kids!

      Negative environments do damage–but the damage can be healed.

      January 18, 2012
      • Wow – now that’s an impressive accomplishment! I have a lot of respect for parents who juggle parenting, work and school! You are indeed a strong woman – and I’m sure your readers would agree!

        January 18, 2012
    • I’m so impressed you were strong enough at such a young age to find the courage to move forward and break the shackles your upbringing tried to put on you. I was forty-four before I found that kind of courage. Your story inspires ME.

      January 18, 2012
  2. I, too, followed that storyline I grew up with, but I don’t think the next generation are so inclined. My daughter doesn’t seem to be, anyway. (And I’m quite proud of her for believing in herself and not paying much attention to the conventional way of doing things.)

    January 18, 2012
    • Helen, that’s true of some young women, but for sure, not all of them. I know some who still struggle with low self-esteem and a ‘can’t do’ attitude.

      January 18, 2012
  3. Helen, my fear is that parents are still pushing daughters – just in the opposite direction… Many young women today seem to be under incredible pressure to achieve and to “have it all”. Not sure they understand that “having it all” translates to “doing it all”. My hope is that parents raise daughters to follow whatever dream that is theirs – not their parents. Sounds like you did exactly that.

    January 18, 2012
  4. Good point, Lindsay. In truth, the ‘having it all’ syndrome is hopefully giving way to doing what you love–and loving it!

    January 18, 2012
  5. Sylvia and Lindsay, thank you for the inspiration and Lindsay for being so candid! I agree we break free one tiny step at a time and if we continue to move forward we hit critical mass and explode into a whole new world of opportunity. Then we’re rocking and nothing can stop us.

    Great to see you’re spreading the word about encouraging our daughters to do what they love. Thank goodness I know what I know because last year it was time for my daughter to choose her electives. Of course I told her to do what she loves; that the rest will come, and so the job of choosing became fun for her. One subject she chose was music and now she’s saying, “It’s so cool I have music 3-4 times a week now!”

    Freedom is so essential and precious; very special to be able to bestow it upon your child and see them shine. A motto of mine is “Love who you are and do what you love” xxx

    January 22, 2012
    • What a marvelous blessing you gave your daughter! Love it. And I agree with you–most definitely!

      January 22, 2012
  6. “But we all deserve to live our life. The life that brings joy and freedom and gratitude – not the one that breeds exhaustion and resentment and envy,” should be the fundamental truth we all live by.

    January 23, 2012

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