Talking to Ms. Mary L. Harvey is painful.
When she talks, you can still hear the sadness in her voice, the disbelief in her heart.
If you listen closely, you can also hear and feel the strength in her resolve and her new found determination to be heard.
Imagine for a moment... you are a woman, pursued and wooed by a guy you tried to ignore, he starts to win you over by doing sweet gestures like bringing a big box filled with Hershey's kisses to your job, complete with handwritten love notes, not to mention his great sense of humor and persistence to make you his woman. Eventually you fall head over heels in love and you accept his proposal to marry him. During your first years together, you find out you are pregnant and later give birth to an adorable son. At the time, your husband is an aspiring comedian not making much money, not yet on the radar. You keep your day job as a cosmetics salesperson. You both work your way from being dirt poor, driving to gigs buying gas using the coins from the emergency coin jar you keep handy, sometimes sleeping in your car in between cities, because spending money on hotels was out of the question back then.
It was hard times to be sure, but also exciting and fun as you struggled your way through tough times together.
Over time, doors begin to open and blessings begin to pour in. Success takes hold and your life changes drastically. He, your former unknown husband, is now a big time comedian and one of the worlds most well known celebrities. Then imagine that you discover by your second anniversary that there is another woman, or women in your life. In spite of this, you hold onto your marriage. He travels the country and becomes uber successful and as his success rises, so do the number of women, the emails, the letters and phone calls to your home.
You are holding on for dear life. Loving him and waiting for him to return from his most recent gig and get it together for the sake of the family. But things don't change. You want your husband and family but he doesn't want you anymore. You know this because he opts to stay in other cities days after the shows are over, always having a reason. When he does come home, he is disconnected. This goes on for years until, exhausted, you finally muster up the courage and power to file for divorce. Vulnerable, you are bullied and/or duped into signing an agreement that gives you far less than any divorce court in the country would allow. He and the family lawyer promise to get back to you to split up the assets within 30 days after you sign the divorce paperwork assuring you that you will get the financial resources coming to you. You wait quietly and patiently in your excruciating emotional pain and disbelief.
That 30th day for division of assets never comes. You start calling accountants and bankers and people who were in the "circle of trust" no one answers your calls. You try to speak to media, few answer and even fewer seem to care about your pitiful plight. You are the "ex" of a celebrity giant. They all remind you how insignificant you are in the grand scheme of things.
At some point in the middle of your emotional meltdown, in that same small town Texas courtroom where you had been literally thrown to the wolves, the judge awards your ex husband custody of your beloved son. The judge tells you the husband is better suited to raise him, after all he has the best schools, the spacious mansion the nannies and support system to give him a better life. You concede. This same court also orders you not to speak of these 16 years of your life, to act as if they didn't really happen.
Time goes by, you pray, cry and wait for justice. And while waiting, as if all the other events weren't enough, he takes you back to court and evicts you from the multi-million dollar home you jointly owned. He decides to give you the option to "sell" the portion of a home that belonged to you, and offers you a fraction of its value. You accept or risk getting nothing. You take it because you have already seen his power at work. This is the man who you loved, helped and supported through 16 years of your life when he was a no-body. The man you thought you married for life.
After the divorce you watch him on television and hear him on radio daily talking about his faith, his lovely new wife and how he wants to help women get the man they want. He becomes a New York Times best seller peddling relationship books to women everywhere. You see him on the cover of the most well known Black woman's magazine in the country, posing next to the woman who you say "intruded" on your marriage. The woman you knew he had an affair with for years before you said "enough"! They are the couple adored by fans everywhere. He is fast becoming an American icon. You watch it all in painful, life killing silence.
Five years drag by. Your voice stolen. You carry a forbidden story still raging inside, desperate to be told.
What would you do?
Well Mary Harvey did what many women in her position would do, she became terribly depressed and faded into the background of life. She lost her voice and lost hold of who she was as a woman. No one cared about her story. She succumbed to being a "victim". Here is where she existed until late January 2011 when she took matters into her own hands armed with a cheap video camera and a book entitled, Why Do I Have to Think Like a Man? How to Think Like a Lady and Still Get the Man, (the book that she says "empowered her and gave her the courage to speak up"), it was here where she courageously did the unthinkable, and made a video to tell the world part of her story on YouTube.
Time stood still for her on this day. More than 500K viewers stopped by to see what she had to say over that courageous weekend, before the attorney of her ex ordered the videos down. It was too late though, "the cat was already out of the bag" as they say. And Ms. Harvey was no longer invisible. The ex wife of the celebrity giant had her unauthorized day in court-albeit the court of public opinion.
Today people know Mary. She is interviewing all over the U.S. for newspapers on radio and TV stations, by the same media that wouldn't have given her the time of day even six months ago. Today her world is a much different place even if it is just because she feels empowered and heard and although her struggle is far from over, in her words "I feel like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders just being able to tell my story, to tell what happened to me".
Hers is a polarizing story that has people in the African American community and beyond talking and asking questions. As of this writing, this is a full blown media soap opera with both parties working hard at convincing the American public who is right or wrong or who should be believed.
As the co-author of the book that she credits with her inspiration, I am at once strengthened in awe, as well as humbled and shocked that our book connected with her and moved her in this way and that it catapulted our little pink book into the national spotlight on shows like the Grio, see http://www.thegrio.com/entertainment/mary-harvey-women-dont-have.php, Access Hollywood, and Inside Edition.
We are also thankful because our books purpose was to empower women, to help them see and feel the need for change, to get them to see the light through the lessons in the relationship and dating stories. Little did we know it would empower the very woman whose ex-husband's books prompted our retort and compelled us to provide the woman's perspective on the issues.
The irony of the events is uncanny. The fact that her ex husband writes a book in 2009, that prompts us to write a book in response in 2010, which gets her attention and enables her to speak her truth in 2011 is surreal. Almost spooky. I believe nothing is by accident. We never knew this Ms. Harvey until she sent us an email a few weeks ago to tell us how our book changed her life. Mary found our book(by way of an urging by her family members-according to her), this happened on purpose. Her emotional reaction to it had nothing to do with us as authors, it was just that time in her life and our book was that source that energized her spirit.
She is apparently exactly where fate or the Universe would want her to be at this very moment in time, just like the rest of us. This is just part of her journey.
There is no way to know where this will all end up, but what is certain, is that just like in Egypt, or back in the 1960's during the Civil Rights Movement, when people feel like they aren't being heard, when people feel oppressed, powerless and taken advantage of or otherwise mistreated for long periods of time, and when people can't see a way out of the darkness, sometimes a blessing comes out of nowhere and they find courage, light to illuminate the way and strength.
Sometimes divine intervention occurs and they find their voice, or words of another touches them like a torch to their spirit, which infuses them with power to stand up and be heard, causing a Tsunami like shift in the flow, changing everything forever.
It is moments like this when profound lessons are learned, history is made and the people who were once "the least of these" now understand they are powerful beyond measure and those in power understand their own vulnerability.
***You can get your copy today and see Mary's official comments and endorsement at http://www.lovingme1st.com***
Causes Rhonda Frost Supports
American Red Cross, Hosea Feed the Homeless and Hungry, Battered Women's Shelters