"Vera, you're so strong!"
I've practically heard this for as long as I can remember. I heard it most when I left my marriage. People congratulated me for being so strong, for having the audacity to walk out of a marriage that was trampling me and robbing me of my peace. I did not understand why I was being congratulated. Should one not always leave a situation that is bad for them? But that's by the way.
To be strong, one has to be emotionally resilient. Some people are strong because they've learned from other people who have coached them to be strong - through their words and/or their actions. And then there are people who are strong and emotionally resilient because life kicked them in the gut, and they had no other choice but to be strong.
Emotional resilience: one's ability to be kicked in the gut and fall down, but not stay down. One's ability to function in spite of everything else. One's ability to roll with the punches. One's ability to make lemonade out of lemons.
Today's guest, Ruth Marimo, is a perfect example. She did not know her father, and she lost her mother at age 4 to suicide. She eventually married an abusive man whom she had to divorce and file a restraining order against. But wait, that's not all! She came out as a lesbian and she's also now an atheist. And this isn't even everything! You'd have to listen to the episode to find out more.
Tell me, how do you think life has been for her as an African woman? You think friends and family were happy that she was getting divorced? You think they patted her on her back for coming out? You think they shook her hand for becoming an atheist? Or do you think she stopped being included?
Today, Ruth Marimo is a 40-year-old single mom. She has authored two books: (1) a memoir titled ‘Outsider: Crossing Borders, Breaking Rules, Gaining pride’, which chronicles her immigration journey from her country of origin, Zimbabwe, as well as the complexities of being a multiple minority, and (2) a work of fiction titled ‘Indelicate Things.' She has a residential and commercial cleaning business called Ruth’s Cleaning Service that has been growing for 6 years. When she is not busy raising her two kids, she speaks and fights for many causes including racial inequality, immigration reform, and LGBTQ equality.