This is the third in a six-part series on domestic abuse and domestic violence. Austin Moms seeks to bring further awareness and to help provide support for those struggling through domestic abuse through the personal stories of some of our team. If you need help, call 512-472-HELP(4357).
“Maid on Netflix.” That was the whole text in the group chat.
I was about to head out of town on business, figured my husband wouldn’t be interested in the series, and decided to download it.
I wasn’t prepared for the emotional rollercoaster I was signing up for. I was instantly drawn into the characters. The series was adapted from a book and based on a true, often untold, side of domestic violence.
For me, it was like a study of how other people live, an exposé on hidden forms of domestic violence and, at times, very uncomfortable to watch. “Wow,” I must have said 100 times, often sitting in disbelief as this woman’s struggle was revealed episode after episode.
I grappled with the notion that the world isn’t ONLY as you see it and we all could use a little wake up call.
Alex, the stories central character, had me conflicted. I was empathetic and then outraged. I was dismissive and then inspired. I found myself questioning how this woman, this talented, beautiful, resourceful, mother had become a continuation of a horrible pattern.
I yearned for this to end well and lost hope several times. Love Lust is a blinding beast. The layers that the series peels away about her life are heart wrenching and sad to watch. I wilted at lines like, “What’s the plan here, where are you going to go? If you walk out of here, you’ll have no one.” But don’t look away… you can learn so much.
As the series develops, it makes you take stock of your privilege in never having to worry about phone minutes, gas money, a roof over your head, let alone black mold, or family’s mental health.
The character that embodies privilege in this series is the stunning, accomplished, child-free professional, Regina. She is a client of the maid service Alex works for. Alex’s presence and poverty alone makes Regina noticeably uncomfortable. I couldn’t stand her.
Then, I recognized her.
After a few episodes I saw her.
And finally, I wanted to show up like her.
Regina enters the narrative with no regard for people that live outside of her tax bracket. Talking down to Alex immediately as someone inferior, “Com-post. Can you read or should I show you?” She’s unknowingly cruel, having her throw away a refrigerator full of food when she’s starving, accusing her of being on drugs and refusing to pay for a “shoddy job.” She wields her entitlement and becomes a catalyst for Alex to find her voice.
With Regina, it’s the first time you really see Alex stand up for herself. Regina retreats in disbelief but with a newfound respect. It is in finding that respect for others that you may see a way to positively impact their life, maybe even save their life. You may need someone to tell you straight or simply bring you along in the experience.
Either way, your character is determined by how you choose to respond.
Regina starts slow and continues to employ her as a “maid.” “I can call you that, right?” In the relationship that follows between the two women you see become more comfortable in Alex’s presence and learn that Regina wasn’t heartless, she was grappling with her own struggle and her beautiful world is actually very fragile.
You don’t have to have an emotional experience with someone in order to connect but it certainly helped these women. There was no maid vs. lawyer, rich vs. poor. This was two women who saw each other and knew there was opportunity to help one another.
I finished episodes thinking of all the things I would do differently in Regina’s position. I wanted to change the narrative on this relationship between these two women.
Then, the line that sticks with me weeks after finishing the series, when you see Regina turn the corner and begin to be the person she has the heart, strength and means to be, you too feel compelled to help. “You weren’t asking for yourself. You were asking for your daughter.”
Meeting people in our lives where they are versus where you want to see them isn’t always easy. It takes being comfortable in the uncomfortable.
As Alex’s life starts to backslide, Regina shows up for her both in presence, to a reality very uncomfortable to Regina and, in effort, demonstrating “I am not giving up on you, don’t give up on yourself.”
I was moved by the way Regina had evolved and inspired to think of how many women can make an effort for someone that passes in and out of their comfortable life.
Being someone’s Regina doesn’t mean you have to be wealthy. Showing up for someone can be free and a simple act of kindness. Let that friend, sister, fellow mom know you are there, without judgement.
You can show up as a safe place or a shoulder to cry on.
It can mean doing something as intentional as getting them out of a bad situation or simply letting them know you would. It doesn’t have to mean rescuing with money or placating with sympathy but supporting them to find the help they need.
While I hadn’t been able to relate to Alex’s trauma, it was in the montage when Regina’s efforts move Alex’s life in a new direction, that I cried tears of joy. Regina had a character arc that matched Alex’s and carried a storyline that many women and mothers could relate to.
We get so distracted by OUR lives; we forget that we are part of a bigger motherhood, sisterhood around us. We can influence how terrible cycles are broken and get out of our comfort zone to help.
I finished the series and sent a text back to my friends. “WOW! Some people don’t even have a chance. We should all try to be someone’s Regina. #reginagoals.”