I love you, I forgive you and I’m grateful for you.

I haven’t always felt this way. In the past I felt victimized and angry when you assumed I wasn’t technical, told me I was using my mommy voice when I spoke with authority, nitpicked at my leadership skills rather than focusing on my value and ignored my technical power by giving me fluffy projects.

This caused me so much strife over my career I became exhausted and empty. I had to leave my chosen career for my own health. Recruiters and colleagues called with job opportunities I would have killed for in the past. I felt sick to my stomach just thinking about going back. I regretted ever majoring in Electrical Engineering. The realization that my daughter was going into a male dominated industry made me panic. I wanted to scream “Don’t do it!”. I grappled with my value of female power and the conflicting desire to protect women from my experience. I couldn’t tell my daughter not to follow her dreams so I had to heal and resolve this issue within myself. I did. I found consciousness.

I forgive you because I now understand that you weren’t domesticated to identify with me as a woman. This was not your conscious choice. Some of you had overpowering mothers that led to me being a trigger for you. Some of you were domesticated to believe that men should have authority and women should be helpers. Your mothers probably never helped you with your math and science homework but told you to ask your fathers instead. The television and media you consumed showed women as something very different than what I was. These are only a small fraction of your experiences that caused you to find me confusing and search for the meaning of it by unconsciously reacting in a way that I found belittling. Of course you were confused when I identified your behavior as sexist because your domestication led you to believe you were just seeing me and the world as it is. The organizations we worked for didn’t get it either because they were unconsciously reacting to a fear of sexism. If they admitted sexism at this level of subtlety existed they would have to solve a seemingly unsolvable problem. They supported you and so my reaction was even more confusing.

I’ve forgiven myself for my reaction of victimization and anger — for labeling you as I felt you were labeling me. I was domesticated with conflicting messages of girl power and women as helpers. I was giving you conflicting messages about who I was. Group think taught me that I was responsible for changing your behavior. I tried to change you, fight you and control you so I could believe I was doing the right thing and didn’t feel helpless. You didn’t like it or me at all. Why would you? We were in a cycle that only one of us could win.

I’m grateful for you because our interactions left me with no other choice but to find healing through consciousness. In that process I have not only healed but found my life’s passion of solving the Women in Tech issue for both men and women through raising consciousness. Because of you I understand how to positively work on sexism in male dominated industries. You have given me a powerful gift that I am excited to share with the world.

Finally, I love you because I understand that both of us have been domesticated to react from our past experiences of pain. The behaviors that made me hate you and label you in the past have taught me that underneath the emotional turmoil we were both just trying to get through the day as best we could. We were both trying to be good and do the right things. We shared more than I ever knew.

With love and gratitude. Thank you.

Gretchen Hellman

P.S. Additional gratitude and love to my “Non-sexist”colleagues. I am grateful you exist and for all the love and support you have given me while I figured this out. 🙂 Now I just have to figure out how to talk about it without using the sexist label.