I’ve bit my lip in anticipation of this post.
Chelli estimates that she’s rewritten this love letter 27 times. We’ve had approximately 7.3 conversations about it and she’s watched one documentary that inspired at least one quick overhaul. We had one drink each while we chatted about it on New Year’s Eve. It took one voicemail, three texts and three emails to confirm that this post would go up today.
All big stats and for bigger reasons.
1 in 3 women will be sexually or physically assaulted in her lifetime. That’s your girlfriend at the end of the table. A man recently heard this statistic at a conference and approached the speaker, stone-faced, “I have three daughters. All I could see was their faces when I heard that stat and wondered which one it would be. What can I do?”
1 in 4 college women will be the victim of sexual assault during her academic career. That’s your neighbor next door, the woman you share carpool with and the lady who underwrote your mortgage.
It may even be you and if you are triggered by such topics, please note that this is a message of hope. Of awareness.
I shared the above stats with one of my close girlfriends one night and she paused, giving me the fortitude I needed, “This is important. These are our friends.”
I’m making the decision not to avoid hard topics because they’re uncomfortable, but instead embrace them because they should be brought into the light. What I adore about Chelli is that when she reached out to say she knew what she wanted to write about, it was so clear that it was a message of hope for every little girl, every teen, every woman. It was so soul-baring and earnest and in her own words, “I don’t want it to be dark.”
I called her this morning after reading it, “I’m so proud of you.”
These are our friends.
Ladies and gentlemen, the brave and beautiful Chelli Wolford –
My Dearest Chelli-Belly:
(This nickname is going to stick – you will eventually find it endearing.)
First, and I need you to really get this, like in your cells, know this: It’s not your fault. Your Mother leaving you when you were just a baby. Being molested when you were a child. Getting gang-raped your first year of college. None of it was your fault. It will be easy for you to blame yourself, to shame and convince yourself that it was somehow your fault, that you were being punished, that God forbid, you deserved it. Sweetheart, it just wasn’t your fault. Stop asking why and start looking to transform your pain into a purpose. This is how you will eventually find peace and become of service to the world.
Learn to forgive like it’s your job. Forgive those who have hurt you, forgive yourself for those you have hurt. Forgiveness is freedom. The older you get, the less you will have to forgive yourself – it will take you longer than you like, but you will learn to live intentionally. Everything will fall into place.
“When people show you who they really are, believe them the first time.” ~Maya Angelou
You won’t learn this quote until your early- thirties and you won’t fully grasp it until your late-thirties, but please, for your sake, breathe these words in and live them. People will give you all the information that you need to make decisions about whether or not you should allow them into your life and heart. Not only will they show you, sometimes they will also tell you, don’t think you can “love” them better, you can’t. Don’t justify bad behavior.
Marry that kind guy that you think is too good for you. This will change the trajectory of your life. Having a supportive partner who will assist in your “becoming” will be everything. Trust me on this.
Some things are never going to make sense – and that is okay. Your Mother not choosing you is going to perplex you most of your life. Instead of asking why, just know that she did the best she could with the tools she had. You will do better because you know firsthand what it feels like to be left behind. It will take you a little while, but eventually you will see it as a blessing. Your worst days will become the best days that shape you into the woman you are today. I promise.
You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone. Full stop.
There will be this moment in your late twenties, when you are talking to your Granny and she says to you: “You know you were your sister’s security blanket, right? I don’t know what she would have done without you.” That moment is going to give your life meaning and be your purpose. Doing and being for others what you always wanted is going to be a driving force for you, don’t change it. Ever. (It’s also going to serve you well when you become a Mama).
I’m not going to lie to you, the first several years are going to be challenging, but my love, it’s going to get so sweet. The darkness will diminish. You will only see the light. Your heart will grow bigger. You will laugh way more than you cry. You will experience things that you cannot even imagine right now as you lay in your bed in a junkyard in Ohio dreaming big dreams for yourself. Hold on. It gets so much better.
Finally, thank you for being a brave, bad-ass, risk-taking young girl. You got me here. But now I got you. I’m holding you so tight. You are safe and you can trust me completely. You can be vulnerable and soft and feminine. I will not judge you. Cry if you need to cry, say your scary things out loud, be your most authentic self. I will be with you every day until the day we die and I will forever be your biggest fan. You saved me. And I saved you. It will take you a few years but you will realize, I’m the love of your life. Now go share that love.
So much love & light to you,
Chelli Wolford is a Strategic Business Consultant combining over 20 years of experience in the military, business and entertainment worlds. Chelli was the youngest and only female Retail Sales Manager for Sprint PCS when she moved to Las Vegas at the age of 24, building 5 retail stores for the Las Vegas market and managing nearly 100 employees. She quickly advanced, managing several different sales channels within multiple organizations and became known as a “fixer” turning around flailing sales channels through key position hires, team building and lead by example style of management.
After leaving the corporate world Chelli was chosen by international superstar Pitbull to join his team and help take his organization to the next level. Chelli created processes for vetting business opportunities, delineated clear roles for team members within the Pitbull organization and worked closely with Pitbull aka Armando Perez to ensure his brand was consistent throughout his social channels and that he had a direct, authentic connection to his fans to ensure channel growth. It was during this time that Chelli Co-Founded Acento Digital Media, a company that supported and connected music artists and brands in aligned, mutually beneficial relationships. Acento’s revenue grew to half a million in less than 4 years of business.
Chelli recently moved back to Las Vegas after 8 years in California and is focused on empowering women entrepreneurs to achieve their goals through her new company, Illuminated Moxie.
You can find Chelli on Twitter @illuminatedmoxy