I took one look at this photo and my heart just sank.
And then, I thought about all of the implications; the many, many, small ripples a post like this could have. Especially for me, with my story. And my business! A post like this just kills the morale of my team and it kills my sales. Beyond that, it takes a shot at my self-esteem and confidence. You will soon see why I am passionate about this topic.
And, I was angry. So, I prayed, and then I sat down to write. And, now I feel better, and hopeful.
Because the original post you see in the photo was public and so many people "liked" and "commented," it has made it's way to the smart phones of many women in direct sales. See, social media has huge shock waves. Just sayin'. However, many would scroll right by, rather than being angry.
SO, my friends, SHARE THIS POST…and let the likes, and comments, and love, and support, and shares change two ridiculous stigmas. I'm talking about the stigma of 1) direct sales (see my thoughts below on why MLM is the most brilliant, efficient, and abundant business model in the world…and I've studied and been a part of many business models. Haters have never tried it.) 2) I'm also talking about the stigma of addiction. If ONE WOMAN gets sober today, because of this post, my job here is done. If ONE WOMAN joins direct sales today because there was no other better way to get through the glass ceiling, or unforeseen circumstances, to feed her family, my job here is done.
So. You might be wondering why a benign post such as that pictured here would make me so “angry.”
You see, I am also in direct sales, but the story is so much longer and bigger than what is happening in my life today.
And so, the story unfolds. I write this with grateful tears in my eyes, and I want to share this with you, in the hopes that it restores faith to you, or a woman in YOUR world.
In 2001, I graduated with a Masters of Business Administration. One month later, I married the love of my life, my soul mate, Bill. He had just received his own hard-earned Doctorate of Medicine diploma, so handsome, and on a stage in front of his graduating medical school class, in Augusta, Georgia. We had the most amazing dreams in front of us. And, we had a whopping $250 in the bank (I am quite sure that I am rounding up in this figure).
We bought our first little house of 970 square feet in a sweet neighborhood of Birmingham, Alabama. And we were so happy. We made friends and started wonderful careers, he as an Ophthalmology Resident at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, and I started a career with a large healthcare corporation. My husband’s line of work requires years of training, with a salary less than many schoolteachers make, before they actually make any money. You catch my drift. It was essential that I work, and I was glad to be in my career – I was able to work with dynamic men and women in the marketing and education field of our company. The department that I worked in was a corporate “mast” for our sales force in the field. I loved my job, and I worked hard. My bosses worked hard, too. I deeply respected them. However, there was an executive team, made up mostly of men.
(** I should note, here, that the team could have been made up completely of women, and I would have the same feelings. But, the executive team was, primarily, male. That's another article for another day. **)
Unbeknownst to the majority of those that worked for the company, many of these executive leaders were swayed by a persuasive founding CEO, and took the great success of this Fortune 500, multi-million corporation, and fraudulently “increased the value,” (and therefore the stock value) of this already valuable publicly-traded company. Within a few years, the SEC and FBI were on the scene. I watched years of hard work, blood, sweat and tears get torn apart, and thousands of innocent people were involved. I watched husbands and wives, with young families, get escorted out of our beautiful multi-level glass building by important-looking men in dark suits. It was like a horror movie. Over the next few months, our corporate “home” was torn apart, from top to bottom. Every piece of paper, every email, every nook and cranny was investigated. Understandably so.
We went through a massive round of layoffs as a third-party faction “seized control” of this whirling merry-go-round. I watched my boss, who I adored, and friends of all ages pick up their phones, and slowly, silently, put them down on their respective cradles. They were soon handed a brown box to pack their things. Somehow, I was spared, and I didn’t want to be. I wanted my severance check and a new opportunity. It was all too much. You see, this career wasn’t just a necessary paycheck; it was a huge part of my identity and my LIFE.
I voluntarily left my own position, soon after this massacre. I felt like I was leaving a ghost town, a war zone, and a graveyard. When I left this job, I left Corporate America. For GOOD. My next role was with a non-profit as a Marketing Director for a grassroots volunteer group, and I loved it. I loved helping people. I loved helping grateful people.
Among life with this this non-profit work, I soon became pregnant with my first daughter. The good life had returned at last! After the birth of Clare, my oldest, I went back to work at the usual 12-week mark of maternity leave. And, I’ll be honest with you, my body and my “heart” were in shock. I cried a lot those first couple of weeks. It was so much harder than I ever imagined. We put our sweet baby girl in the little hospital daycare where my husband worked. I packed her bottles and her “day bag” each morning for daycare. My husband picked her up each day with joy, and some sadness, of a day gone by with no time to play with her, and care for her. I would race home from work to see my husband, and my baby girl, whom I had missed so much after a long day at the office.
After a month of this back-to-work activity, I learned, very surprisingly that I was pregnant again, with my youngest daughter, Kate. To say that it was a surprise for Bill and I, was the understatement of the century. And, let’s be honest here, my body had certainly not given me any signs that it was ready for a pregnancy. Catch my drift? My husband and I, in our little 970 square foot home, were floored.
But, on to the juicy part of the story.
I worked in my second pregnancy until I went into pre-term labor around 21 weeks’ gestation. From there, life became an absolute blur of hospital trips, bed rest, childcare for Clare, forced time-off from my work, and a lot of emotion. It is pertinent to note, that, during this “blur,” my husband felt strongly that he really wanted to specialize in the area of “Cornea and Refractive Surgery.” This would require one more year of training, and very little salary, in another new city. To speed this story along, our life took us with a 3-month-old and a 15-month-old to Miami, Florida, so that my husband could fine-tune his skills and his career. I turned in my notice at my job, and closed down my life in Birmingham, Alabama.
I was alone for the first time in my life. REALLY ALONE. As in, raising two babies in a very strange city alone. As in, my husband had to be at work for 90% of our life alone. A part of me died that year. Some women would handle this situation with ease. I’m not sure. How would one know, until they were personally in that situation? But, I did not handle it well. How do I know? I began to drink wine as if that wine was the only friend I had. Up until then, I had enjoyed a glass or three of wine with friends, and family. I enjoyed the taste, I enjoyed the vibe, and I enjoyed the scene. I didn’t see any kind of connection to wine, and whether or not my life instantly got better from drinking.
But, sitting alone, often, in our little apartment in Miami, Florida, I began to drink wine for different reasons. It changed my anxiety and fear to a carefree moment. Temporarily, of course. Real life always showed up the next morning. And, so did the need to change diapers, give bottles, and spoon baby food. There were groceries to buy, meals to make, naps for babies to do. My responsibilities certainly didn’t end there. I had become a stay-at-home mom. And, I wasn’t sure when I signed up to be a stay-at-home mom, but here I was. Somewhere in there, I also became a stay-at-home drunk. I didn’t know that at the time, of course! I had a glass or two of wine in the evenings, as I cooked. But, I had more reasons for drinking that wine than most people do. Secret reasons. And, I began to isolate, because I was ISOLATED. Sometimes, I’d have a glass of wine around 3 pm, when I was so tired my hair hurt. This continued all year, and soon it was time to move and put in roots in our FINAL CITY. The city where we would live, raise our children, and never move from.
Oh boy! I was exhilarated! I felt hope again! A move would solve everything. I would have an actual house that was not adjacent to a parking lot instead of a backyard, and there would be people around me who spoke English. And preschool! There would be preschool! Everything was new, and exciting, and full of hope.
We moved. I got my two-story house with a fence, a new SUV, and the whole suburban mom package. I was really happy at first. And then my feelings showed up again. My feelings were so confusing, and I pushed them down, because they didn’t make sense. I had “the life.” What were these depressed feelings about? What was wrong with me?
My drinking started to ramp up. Instead of a glass of wine at 3 or 4 or 5pm, it was sometimes 2pm. Sure, I could skip a day of drinking, but I was thinking the whole time, “today is different. I don’t need the wine today. I’m good.”
I wasn’t good. I was managing a disease I knew nothing about. Yes, alcoholism is a disease, a fatal disease, actually, and I had no idea. I didn’t realize it was a disease, whose symptoms are worse, when the alcoholic doesn’t drink. What are those symptoms? Fear. Depression. Worry. Self-esteem problems. Isolation. Loneliness. Hopelessness. Am I saying that those particular feelings mean that one is an alcoholic? Absolutely not. What I am saying is that, for me, drinking was a viable, effective solution to those feelings – when most “normal” people would avoid a glass of wine and head straight to the shrink. And, this disease nearly did kill me. It nearly killed me all the way up until the summer of 2008, when I found recovery from the disease of alcoholism, and my soul-sickness. Or should I say, recovery found me. Laying in bed, and devastated, with two toddlers pounding on my locked bedroom door, recovery found me.
By then, my girls were 3 and 4 years old. I was having nightmares – in my days and in my nights. Nightmares that my adult children would prevent their children from seeing the “disaster of a grandmother” that Molly Hammonds had become. Nightmares that my husband had left me for someone who knew how to behave like a lady. Nightmares that I didn’t have a life.
Guess what? I didn’t have a life. Actually, I didn’t know how to live. I didn’t know how to live for two very important reasons: I had not turned my life over to a God that made sense to me. I did not know what courage was, and I certainly didn’t know how to make courage work in real life. For the sake of my readers’ ability to focus on the courage portion of my article, I’ll hold off on my discovery of spirituality – although, it is a critical part of the reason I am alive.
But, you, the reader of this saga, might be wondering how I ever achieved so many honors, scholarships, and diplomas if I didn’t really have courage. And, you might be wondering how on earth my story has ANYTHING to do with the woman that posted on Facebook?
After 6 ½ years of sobriety and recovery, I had found so much of myself that had been “lost” to the disease of alcoholism, the disease of running from one’s true self. And, I discovered strengths and talents I never knew existed. You see, many stay-at-home moms do not ever have the opportunity to “uncover” their dreams and talents. They are too busy taking care of a busy household and family. And, many women working outside of the home never have the opportunity to “uncover” their dreams and talents, either. They are busy trying to please the executive team of their corporation. They are busy trying to get food on the table. These moms are busy holding together marriages that need more date nights. These moms may be wondering, like me, why that glass of wine feels so good at the end of a long day. These moms may be fighting demons so much worse than the ones that tortured me…demons like child-abuse, sex-abuse, death of a parent, death of a spouse, troubles with parenting their children, and the list goes on and on. But, they continue to do the grind, because it’s the only way they were taught to make money. It’s the only way they were taught, or it’s the only way they currently know how to be courageous.
Women are miracle workers. Women can balance a baby on a hip, while talking to a friend on the phone going through a heart-breaking divorce, pat their husband as he walks through the door and unwinding from a day at work, check their child’s homework, wave at the neighbor driving by, and stir a pot – all in the same minute. Women are amazing.
And my story is every woman’s story. We all have our troubles. We all have our challenges. We all have our strengths. And, some of us have been determined enough to contribute to the family “coffer” in some way, through a way that works for family-life, recovery-life, and a SUPER BUSY LIFE. Some women, like me, need to work. They need to feel a sense of accomplishment that is not tied to others in some way. I NEED something to do for when the kids go off to college, because loneliness and isolation aren't good for me. Loneliness and isolation aren't good for any human being, but they are deadly for an alcoholic. Even one in recovery.
So, what’s a girl like me to do? I have recovery as a first priority, TO STAY ALIVE, and family as a close second. I had to find a job that would work with those things, or it doesn't make sense to work.
That way, my friends, is through direct sales. (Oh, I can hear your eyes rolling from here!) And that’s OK. For me, it was a no-brainer. I found an incredible, multi-million dollar company, whose transformative skincare products wipe out my adult hormonal stressed-out-self acne, whose business model allows me to work from home (online through my website they set up for me), allows me to carry my business wherever I go and allows me to pick my co-workers. You call it “multi-level” layers, and I call it picking my co-workers. Same thing. Other entrepreneurs call these “layers” vendors or distributors. There are vendors and distributors for EVERY SINGLE product and service in the entire world. It’s called distribution. It’s how a product goes from being created at “Point A” to the consumer’s hands in “Point Z.” My company has four points to get product into my client’s hands. For the sake of simplicity, I will call them Point A (factory), Point B (corporate warehouse), Point C (me, helping them order), Point D (doorstep of my client). From a money-changing-hands standpoint, it is a very efficient and a timesaving, and a money-saving operation for ALL PARTIES involved – corporate and consumer. Most other companies have 6, 7 or 20 points, depending on the country of origin. You get the point.
So, exactly HOW are these direct-sales products advertised? Through women like myself. Other companies use various expensive third-party advertising, but we don’t. My great personal skincare results, and my friend’s personal skincare results, are my advertising. Is anyone offended yet? I hope not.
So, speaking of friends. Since I am low on courage (remember my long story leading up to this?), my best source of practicing my newfound excitement for my skincare business is with friends. I am not part of a party company or a company that requires the consultant to stock inventory, so my reaching out to people and saying, “hi, friend, I’m offering this great product through my new business. I have absolutely loved my own results. Want to see? Want to try?” is my shy attempt at the following: gaining courage, helping my children, helping my family financially, and helping my sobriety by feeling like a normal citizen of life again.
“Wait, hold up,” you might be saying, “Your attempt at contacting me and trying to sell me something is somehow now legitimate because I should be supporting you as a friend by buying your products? And if I don’t, you’re going to get drunk?!!”
NO. That’s not what I’m saying.
What I’m really saying is this, “I, Molly Hammonds, am absolutely terrified to contact you. But, I see you as a cool lady and friend. You may have absolutely no interest in my product, and that’s fine. But, will you give me a nice, kind response, and your love and support with what I’m trying to do for my family and myself? And, when you do look in the mirror and see sun-damage, will you think to call me? Or will you refer a friend or a family member to me? Thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart for letting me reach out to you. I hope you are honored that I think enough of you to put myself out there like this with you.”
To which you can reply, “thanks so much for thinking of me, Molly, I’m honored. You know, I like what I just bought for skincare from Target.
*** [insert a long-winded answer from me here, at this point, about why our skincare has the right ingredients, in the right formulations, in the right order…to keep your wrinkles from turning into a crisis when you are 60…but I digress…] ***
But, if I see that I don’t like it, and want to try your skincare products, I’m so glad to know I can contact you!”
(And, you can politely leave out the fact that four other annoying women contacted you this week about their own products. Because you KNOW Molly Hammonds isn’t a mind-reader, and you know that Molly does not KNOW that you’ve been contacted four times this week.)
There. That is a way to support and love women like me. And your daughters and my daughters are watching what we do, why we do it, what we say, and how we say it.
You see, quite often, these direct sales companies are featuring much more than quality products (yes, they are quality, or they would have fallen by the wayside years ago, with the other companies that haven’t cut the mustard). Many of these companies are providing education, support, and training that is often NOT a resource through “traditional” employers (and by the way, what is “traditional” now, anyway, in this online, social commerce world we live in?). So, the tools – yes, the tools offered by direct sales companies as a support to it’s independent consultants-- are not otherwise offered as a resource to stay-at-home moms, who desperately need the support and tools to believe in themselves again. Corporate America certainly does not usually give women the tools and resources to “believe in themselves” on a daily basis – or if they do, I missed the memo.
Needless to say, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in direct sales. I have thoroughly enjoyed the women who have mentored me and encouraged me in my company. I have a sense of appreciation that I never felt in Corporate America. I am able to love on, and appreciate, the women who join “under me,” (uh-oh, there goes that Multi-level Marketing talk again!) because they are the co-workers, vendors, and distributors that I choose to have fun with me on this ride we call life.
And, I am making more money than I ever dreamed possible, after eight months with this company. All of my friends "above me" (oh, those levels!) are all making 6-digit salaries and left their corporate jobs to be home with the people who mean the most to them. They are also driving a free, pearly Lexus -- thank you, kind doctors, who pay for them!
Have I lost friends or have I been un-friend’ed on social media because of my newfound occupation? Probably. Am I worried about it? Not at all. I know who my real friends and supporters are. They are especially the ones that supported me daily as I was getting sober back in 2008. They called and checked on me, they shared their secrets with me, they made me hot tea and coffee, they took me on the sober retreats I desperately needed to heal my soul. They are all I need in the way of humans. Most of all, I have a God on my side. He strengthens me daily. He gives me everything (EVERY. THING.) I need to live today.
Most of all, I believe that God has given me the gift of this business and the gift of recovery for a reason. Those that do not understand this, do not understand me. And, that’s OK. I love them anyway…from a safe distance.
My husband is now a very successful physician in a thriving practice. My children are beautiful and amazing. They are 10 and 11 years old, already struggling with how girls and women treat each other. I love our life. I love my life. I love the ups and I love the downs. And, I love women. I especially love women that are recovering from the devastating effects of alcohol abuse, drug abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse…and any kind of abuse. Women have taken on so much abuse. It needs to stop. There is a way out. Love wins. ( <--- That's for you, Glennon Doyle of www.momastery.com!)
Listen, ladies. Listen to me loud and clear. Support women in your life. All women. Support moms. Support all those in recovery. Support all those that are hungry, hurt, and misunderstood. Be kind. Be loving. Be real.
So, dear woman, who just posted that benign message on Facebook…you have no idea what you just did to the women in your world. You may have killed them with words, unknowingly. You may have alienated some true friends. OR, you may have made them stronger. You made me stronger today. And, I hope I helped my readers become stronger because of your honest and clueless post.
Dear woman, you might have just gotten one woman sober today through this post. Dear woman, you might have just helped one woman join direct sales who lost her husband to cancer last month -- and needs a way to feed her children -- but she is too embarrassed to ask for money. Dear woman, you probably just made my incredible company another million in sales today. Dear woman, thank you.
This is my story. It's OK if you don't like it, or if you don't like me. There are bigger things to be accomplished in God's Universe. Thank you for hearing me. I pray that the God of my understanding blesses you all today, and especially you, my dear woman, always.
Live your dreams.