Ride or Die. I only heard this phrase about a year and a half ago and it has stuck in my mind, turning it over and over, questioning, and wondering. I have read the stories of other women, saw their pictures not being able to identify to what they talked about. As I continued to ask, to read and look more profoundly into their eyes I saw myself. I am a Ride or Die woman. Also I have come to see that I come from a line of Ride or Die women. In order to share my story I must share the stories of the women before me. I must try to convey in few simple words lives filled of self-sacrifice for the love of their families, their husbands and even their land.
I must start way back, with my grandmothers. The ones that lost their husbands in the war, who searched for their bodies and memories only to find dust. The ones that lived in extreme poverty but did all they could to not let their children feel it. That worked as servants in order to provide fresh food, whose hands calloused by the weight of their chores, yet they never complained. They lived to ensure the survival of their children.
I must talk about my grandmothers. The ones that embodied the word forgiveness and whose love for something greater than themselves forgave over and over again the dark moments of their husbands. The love and strength that forgave the addictions to alcohol and other woman. The love that ensured their home was always warm and that all who received their long and tight embrace felt nurtured, cared for, important. The care to remember every birthday, to listen with a fully present heart, to hold it all together even when others did not. This same love they extended to their land, their little corners of paradise on this earth which they treated as the most sacred temple, and to which they kept on coming back to after having to flee it several times due to too many wars. The land on which they passed away.
Finally, I must talk about my own mother. A woman who in her quiet moments may think of things she would have loved to have done, other jobs she would have loved to have excelled in, but every day when she wakes up she only has one thing on her mind, her family. Making a living doing what we love is a privilege that she never had a chance to experience, yet her love and her happiness is found in the lives of her daughters and the quiet happiness in knowing that all she has done has allowed us to be who we are. So much of her life has been lived in order to shape ours, that now that we are older and stand on our own I can see her returning to herself and with the same grace, patience and love give herself every day moments that are just for her.
In the end, looking back I have come to see that much like all the women before me I have stood in that spirit of Ride and Die by men, friends, causes, ideas, businesses and people. But also looking back I have come to see that the biggest lesson of standing beside something or someone in such a way requires one to stand next to themselves first. To stand firm and unapologetically in who I am as a woman and in the love that I am and want to share, my way. Ride or Die.
Snjezana Pruginic is a socially focused and spiritually centered idea strategist, coach and consultant, peace and wellness educator and a multidisciplinary storyteller.