We are the women of Generation X. Nameless, but not faceless. We are the secretaries in the legal office trying to support that child we had when we were young and protection just wasn’t convenient. We are the nurses working the graveyard shift trying to feed our families. Our life is spent striving to be half the woman that are mothers are. We are the independents trying to break free from the proverbial womb of our parents and make it on our own.
We are American citizens finding their voices, and we are voting in this election. We are the party girls just trying to hang on to one more good time. We are the stay at home moms wanting to enjoy the few years we have of our children enjoying us. We are aspiring authors, models, and musicians. We have embraced our dreams, and accepted our realities. We have made mistakes, and we have made bad choices.
We have been through the fires of passion and through the flames of maturity. With growing pains we have flirted our way out of speeding tickets. We have shamefully used our cleavage to get the promotions we deserved, refusing to be overlooked because of our age. We have twirled our hair and batted our eyes at the guy we knew wasn’t good for us. But, we, by some cruel force of nature, were drawn to him nonetheless! We use phrases like “it just happened” and “I found myself” as if we didn’t quite grasp the place we are in, or how it is exactly, that we came to be in this place.
We have explored our passions, and embraced our sex appeal. We are survivors. We have survived abusive childhoods, worthless boyfriends, lost jobs, evictions, repossessions, and credit mishaps. We have accepted our pasts, and moved forward in hopes of a better future. We are strong, independent women, and we suffer not in vain.
Deanne Cook was one such girl. Her story is one of courage and inspiration. Ten years have gone by since Deanne was driving down a dirt road in a small town, dreaming of being where her life would take her. She had just passed her driver’s test. Never in her wildest dreams did she believe that her life would take her to the point it did. Twenty-six years old, divorced with her sole reason for living being her five-year-old. She dreamed of a career, marital bliss, success, an SUV and soccer games, PTA meetings, and school plays. She dreamed of moving to the city. Never did her dreams leave her in this same small town, living at home, again, dreaming of a better life somewhere, some day, some how.
“Free time” has now become a distant concept that she used to hear, now replaced by words like meetings, deadlines, and VIP. Late nights of “Friends” reruns with her best friend over a pint of Blue Belle’s brand new ice cream flavor, have been replaced with late nights at the office; her son sleeping in unknowing bliss under her desk as she prepares for an eight o’clock meeting.
She has now received her first speeding ticket, and wonders if she is the only girl who suffered severe depression from it. Seventeen times, she was pulled over as a teenager, and seventeen times she did not get a ticket. Yes, it could have had something to do with the short skirts, but still, no tickets. Then, her first ticket, at age twenty-five, when her eyes filled with tears and she cried, “Oh my God, I’m ugly!” Somehow a twenty-five year old with a kid in the back seat just isn’t as appealing as the barely legal girl in the barely there skirt.
That bum fiancé that she was determined to beat all the odds with senior year lasted about two months after high school ended. She had proclaimed her love for him from the rooftops, actually laughed at the teachers who told her statistics on couples getting married too young. As if to taunt her forever, the words are burned into her head “That won’t happen to me, I really love him.” She was almost stubborn enough to put up with him being abusive, just to prove that she could love stronger than their stupid statistics. From him, she moved on to bigger, better losers. As many women in Generation X, she has a gift for picking the wrong one. She can walk into a room filled with ninety-nine perfectly decent guys, and one loser, and you guessed it, she will inevitably drift to the one loser. Drinks ordered on the rocks turned into a marriage on the rocks when she was twenty- one. By age twenty-three, she was filing for a divorce.
She arrived back home to her parent’s house, with shattered dreams and a broken heart. She felt discarded and scared as a single mom without a single penny. An overwhelming sense of being the world’s biggest failure drove her to give up her dreams and get a corporate job. Her search for success began. By all industry standards, she is well on her way down the right path.
So, after all of these years of adventure, why is she back on this same country road, dreaming again? She still feels trapped by her past, and we venture to sit in front of the house she grew up in. Tears filled her eyes in the car as she remembers the man who abused her. The man, her father, corrupted the most innocent, natural child-parent relationship. For three years, unspeakable things happened, and all the while, Deanne kept her silence. At age thirteen, she lost her father. His suicide took its toll on her family.
“I hated that I couldn’t sleep at night, and I had nightmares, but he just got to go on with his life as if nothing out of the norm had taken place. I needed help. I needed to talk someone, and for someone to understand. I needed them to tell me that it was ok, that I wasn’t bad, or dirty.”
For ten years she carried that story with her, determined to make her life better. Now, she realizes, the only way she can do that is to help the millions of young women her age that suffered in the exact same way that she did. She realizes that we all have an obligation to Generation Y.
It is through our success, through our stories, and through our heartache that we will be their unsung heroes. We will be the spotlights that shine on the stars of this future generation.
“So often now, I sit and talk to young ladies who are carrying the weight of a painful past on their shoulders, and I can honestly say, “I know how you feel.” With a reassuring voice, and a comforting hug, I find a morbid sense of satisfaction that I will no longer be some random victim of childhood abuse. I have found my voice. My suffering now serves a greater purpose. The lives of young women who are today going through what I went through yesterday will be better equipped to deal with tomorrow, because I am standing up to say, “I am not a victim, you, young women of Generation Y are not victims, You are survivors, and for you, we suffer not in vain.” (personal story used with the permission of Deanne Cook)
Andria, this piece definitely needs to be pruned and polished, but your story is powerful. You are a strong woman and please keep writing. Make your life a light to guide other women out of what you have been through.