Never Shy, Lyndia Lipscomb
Speaks the Truth
By Alla Drokina
Having to survive loss, abuse, and homelessness, Author and HR Executive Lyndia Lipscomb is no stranger to adversity, and she hopes her pain can be a guiding light for others. Lipscomb's main mission is to give other women a voice.
Lyndia Lipscomb doesn't shy away from sharing the dark parts of her past and even credits them to helping her find her resilience. In her book, "If My Vagina Could Talk," Lipscomb highlights the stories of five women, including herself, who have faced insurmountable obstacles and found themselves on the other side.
Calling herself a "sharpshooter," Lipscomb's candor is found in her work, as she pushes away from presenting material in a polished and palatable way for the reader and instead maintains a raw and powerful voice.
Her own path in Hollywood appears auspicious as Lipscomb is currently awaiting a response for two of her scripts, with one based on her book.
In your book you tell the stories of five women, including your own. How did you find these incredible women who were willing to share their stories with you and, consequently, with the world, as well?
It's funny that you ask that. I've been an HR Executive for over 25 years, and through my passing in that 25 years, I've met and touched each one of these amazing women in different stages of my life.
However, these women had never met until recently when I did a zoom call to introduce them and they had never read each other's stories until the book was released to the public. And surprisingly one of the co-authors did not jump on the call, so they to this date have still not met one of the co-authors.
I received many stories from women asking to be a part of Volume 1, but I kind of wanted to put it together with women who kind of had similar situations, and their lives had sort of clashed a little bit.
The same emotional struggle, the pain of life, sex, motherhood - that's kind of how I put them all together, but I've met and touched each one of them throughout my life's journey, just in different time periods.
I'm 55, so, from the age of 20 to 55, I've known them in different ways, and they all live in different states. They have very different cultures and backgrounds; one is Mexican, two are Black, one is White, and I, myself, am Native American and Black. So, this is kind of where everyone was a little different, but we all shared similar pain and stories from the past.
You said in another interview that this is not your typical self-help book, what differentiates this from others in that genre?
From my own personal experience, most typical self-help books tell you how to fix the problem. They help with understanding what the cause and effect is of what you are needing help on.
But this book is not typical, because it's raw and uncut. It's very emotional, and they [the women] didn't go to anyone to fix themselves. They didn't read any books. They didn't talk to anyone. They didn't talk to any counselors. They just kind of pulled themselves up by the bootstraps, and said hey, I have to take charge of my life. No help around me, just me, I gotta crawl to reality. And that's why it's not your typical book, because there's no advice to tell what to do, how to do, where to go, what to see.
There's no instruction in this book. There's no definition of what the illnesses were of the men they were living with or the problems they were having or abuse they were facing. It's just women who were raw and uncut who told how horrible their life was, and they decided themselves to fix it and move on. And it's the struggles of how they got there.
When did you become comfortable with sharing your story with others?
I don't think most women are comfortable telling their stories, but I always wanted to tell mine. But one of my Ah Ha moments was after I read the book, Pretty Mess by Erika Jayne (Bravo TV Star on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills), I understood, WOW, there are other people who have had things happen to them that may have crippled them through life or made them feel unworthy.
I just related to a lot of things she said and a lot of things that she went through. That helped me push over the fact that I'm going to tell my story. I'm just going to say: "YES." I'm going to do it. I'm going to do it myself. I'm going to publish it and get it out there. And when I started connecting with other women, I realized they were having some of the same issues and have been through some of the same if not similar situations.
I thought maybe I can put all of us together in one book, so that we can comfort each other, help each other along the way and understand that more than one voice is powerful.
A lot of women don't tell their stories, because they just don't want to be by themselves. They think people aren't going to understand. People aren't going to believe them. People aren't going to listen. So, I decided to put all of us together in one book to make a more profound sound. Voices together is much more powerful.
Why do you think women are often silenced into not speaking about their pain?
Let me start to answer that question by saying, women are beautiful and emotional creatures, and we take on a tremendous amount of pain throughout our lives unintentionally. We take on everything that comes at us. And I believe we feel it's our responsibility to endure what's coming at us, but it's really not. I think we need to start making people accountable for the way they treat us, for the things to do to us.
Women are silent, because they're afraid. They're alone. They think people won't understand it. And more importantly, most women in abusive emotional relationships don't even realize it. They don't know the signs, nor do they know the symptoms. And by the time they realize they've been abused, or that this has happened to them, it's too late. Years have gone by, kids have grown. They try to find their lives again, and they're like, "I got over it. It's okay."
But I don't think it's okay anymore. You need to speak up, because I think your voice can help another person. So, writing this book was exactly what I believe. If I could heal one person, then the book serves its purpose.
In the intro of your book, you write about women being strong in their core. Where do you think our resilience stems from? How do we find it?
I think we find it by starting to believe in ourselves, by starting to understand that we're not perfect, by starting to say thank you - even saying thank you for some of the bad things we went through.
For example: like a marriage, it may have gone bad, but you conceived beautiful children out of it, so you must thank them for the birth of the children. I think we must start realizing and admitting that we may have made a mistake, and it's okay to get up and keep going again.
Women are really hard on themselves, and they need to really not be as hard on themselves, because we are born to bear all the problems of our relationships, our children, our family, because we're emotional. I think we need to try to understand that it's okay to have these feelings, but what you do with it is a different thing. You have to find a way to balance the love, the emotions, the sex, the motherhood, the life, jobs, and that's where we fall short. We try to balance it all and try to take it all on.
We don't balance it enough, and that makes us emotional. It makes us crazy, so I think we have to really dig in and say, "Okay, I have the strength. I'm strong enough. I can make the change." But it takes time. It's small steps. It doesn't happen overnight.
We have to start to believe in ourselves, but most importantly, we have to believe in our self-worth - a lot of women don't. They're afraid. They're quiet. They're humble. But it's okay to step out of that box and be strong and take it head on and deal with it one by one.
I had to deal with the murder of my son. I had to deal with the mental issues my son has been facing since the age of 16 due to a bad divorce. He's now 36 and I had to take responsibility for having a hand in being a part of a horrible divorce that affected all my kids. I had to take responsibility that maybe I wasn't the greatest mom. I had to take responsibility for how I take the future of my life and make it better for me.
How do I survive past this? I had to pull my inner strength and say, "Let's do this. I'm gonna cry a lot. I'm gonna dig. But I'm going to get through it."
What holds women back from healing?
Fear! I believe 100% that fear holds women back from healing. I think they're afraid to heal, because when you heal, you have to admit to the guilt of pain, and you have to visit the places in your life that hurt you the most, and it's hard.
It's hard to heal, because you must think about everything that has happened to you and how you're going to get past it. And most of us want to block that out. It's like when I was sexually abused, I almost must block it out of my being to move on.
But to heal my soul and the bruises of the event that crippled me, I had to learn how to revisit my soul again so that I did not continue to become a victim of that horrifying event. You must understand it. You have to take it head on. You must deal with the pain and the aftermath even if that means going to therapy.
If you want to go to therapy than take that first step, be a fighter, understand that it wasn't your fault and that you didn't do anything wrong. I think we put ourselves in a position to feel everything is our fault, and society does a great job of doing that to women.
When it comes to rape or abuse, it's always, what did you do? That's the first question if you watch any of the drama shows or cases. The first thing they say is what did she do? Did she wear a short dress?
It doesn't matter what we did, we didn't have to have that type of behavior happen to us. So, I think the first step is understanding that these things happened to you and you are not at fault.
So, in a way, you're also saying that shame can play a role for survivors of abuse?
Absolutely. Shame, embarrassment, not wanting to tell family and friends. Thinking you can fix it, thinking you can fix the man, thinking you can fix yourself.
Sometimes that's the hardest part, because you can't change an abuser. His behavior was probably there before you were with him, so you can't fix them, you can't change them, they gotta change themselves. And I think that's a huge problem.
Women try to fix these two-headed relationships, and they're one person. Women take on the whole task of doing that, and it's harmful, it's toxic, it's hurtful, and it will never make you a survivor.
You must do way more than that and they can start by fixing themselves first and setting the bar of those they let enter their life a little higher.
What do you think is the most toxic narrative women buy into?
It's their fault. I do. Every single woman I've talked to, I mean hands down when I talk to them, they think it's their fault. They live with it and what's worse is they feel responsible.
Some women live and they tell their story to help others, which is great, but there's a ton of women out there on this earth who have probably died without telling their story and died with so much pain.
So, to answer that question, I think women have to stop beating themselves up. They have to stop feeling responsible. They have to stop thinking everything is their fault. They have to stop blaming themselves for the tragedies in their life. They must accept reality and get help or find their inner core and just pick themselves up by any means necessary. Because nobody is going to do that for them.
Did you always have such a strong voice, or did you end up finding it later on?
I've always had a strong voice. I'm a sharpshooter, no chaser. I am literally from the streets of Washington, DC which ironically explains my entire character.
I've been in HR for 25 years and an Entrepreneur owning several businesses for over 10 years. I've always had a strong voice, but it depends on what the subject was. But I'm a stronger voice at love, at life, at sex, and relationships, because I've been through a lot and have some skin in the game.
Would you say part of your mission is to give other women a voice, as well?
My total mission is to give women a voice. My entire message in this book is to tell women, it is okay to talk about it. It is okay to help others. It is okay to let your voice roar. It is okay to say enough is enough. It is okay to say, I am going to do better. I am not going to take this anymore. I don't care about your past. I don't care about how many times you fell down. It is how you get up and tell your story.
Women fought for years for us to have our rights, to vote, to speak, to be political. Take advantage of those rights.
In your book, you describe the vagina as the center of one's core being. Do you think the vagina transcends just being part of one's physical anatomy and almost takes on a spiritual component?
Absolutely! It is the center of your life. It is what gives birth. You must understand that canal gives life and it speaks universally to all women. It's so powerful to be able to give life, and that's a huge and powerful responsibility.
When your vagina connects with the outside world, your entire life changes. That is why people say when you have a baby, there's going to be an instinct, you're going to know how to be a mom. This is given to us from the spiritual high being. It is entrusted to us as women that we are strong enough to carry it. If it wasn't, men could get pregnant, too.
When you think about that, whether you believe in God, or Buddha, The Universe, etc., either way, the responsibility was put upon women for a reason. We have the strength to survive and we are strong. Our bodies have the strength to carry a life for nine months, and beyond that, we carry that life until we die.
It's not like, oh they're 18, you send them off. That is your child. That is your seed, that is your life until the day you expire off this earth. You have a duty for the rest of your life to carry that central core that you gave life to, so that's when I say it's the power of our being. It's our emotions. It's our mental, physical and sexual emotions. It's our life. It's what we think. We get a period every 28 days, and we go through this hormonal, crazy time for five days. It's mental. It's physical.
Sometimes it's horrible for women, some women have cramps and pain. This is how we deal with life. In those five days your whole life changes. So, when I say center and the core of you being, it actually is. It is your life!
In your experience with writing a book and then television and film writing, which do you think is more challenging?
The book is more challenging, because it's real life and I don't want to shame any women. I want to tell their stories correctly. I want to get down to the basics and the core of how I can help other people.
When I'm writing for television and film, it's all fun and fantasy. It's comedy. It's character building. It's so much fun and more enjoyable. I go along, and I'm finding and tracing these characters all the way back to when they were born, so I have enough content to have a show that goes into syndication. That's the fun part...letting these characters live for a long time.
Writing nonfiction is not fun, because you're dealing with people's pain and the life they have lived, and then you have the tough job of telling their stories through their eyes. So, I would have to admit, the book is more challenging, but I have a ton of fun writing reality story lines and writing tv and film.
I was taught by someone who was a phenomenal writer and, who was on a writing team with Norman Lear, so this is a person who wrote comedy back from Good Times, Malcolm and Eddy and so many other Black family shows back in the day.
This gentleman taught me how to write, which helped me with my book. But the funny thing about him and how we met was when my 12-year-old daughter pitched a film to ICM during a pitch competition at Raleigh Studios, they loved it, and she took third place.
At that time, they told us the movie she pitched was great and had legs, so they suggested we find a writer to write the script. So, the search for a writer was on. Out of God's Grace we found him, this black writer who unbeknown to us was suffering from cancer at the time.
After meeting him we couldn't afford him, because he was about $150,000 to write a film script. He turned us flat down on the first visit to him. But a few days later, my phone rand and he called us to come back to his home.
After we went back to see him, he said God told him to help us and to call them back. At that meeting he said he would not write the script for us, but he would teach us how to write it, but on one condition. He said: "If you guys come over every night and cook for me, I'll teach you how to write for free."
For two and a half years, my daughter and I would go over two to three nights a week, and he taught us how to write film. I would bring fish and salad and laugh with him and talk with him, and we had a great time. I could never get that kind of education if I went to three colleges.
But soon we found out he was sick, and he finally told us his Cancer was back, thus now I know why he wanted us to always bring him healthy meals.
Sadly, he later died, and I literally cannot wait to be on the silver screen one day to have his name in the credits as a dedication. It's my goal in life. I owe all my writing skills to him.
What a lucky meeting. And besides your mentor, are there any authors or screenwriters or filmmakers in the industry who are currently inspiring you?
My daughter and I, at a couple of SAG events years ago, met Terence Howard. And I met him through a friend of ours. How he changed my life in Hollywood. He said to me and my daughter: "Put your hands on the steering wheel." He said: "You are so powerful, and she is so powerful. Write your own shit. Produce your own shit. Don't wait on Hollywood to bring you the life that you want."
And then three weeks after, we met Taraji P. Henson. She's from my hometown (Washington, DC) and the same city. She was another huge inspiration for us, because her story of coming to Hollywood with just a few dollars and making it was just so gigantic for us, and we talked about it.
Because at the time, my daughter and I had been in Hollywood for several years, and we had just become homeless, because we couldn't afford Hollywood. But we didn't want to leave. Just talking to her and understanding her story and her telling us to never give up was crazy.
We also met Henry Winkler the first day we got to Hollywood. The very first day. And he stopped us on Ventura Boulevard, and he looked at my daughter, and we talked for several minutes. And he said, "Oh gosh, she's so cool. She's great for the camera, and he said: "You're going to make it. Keep going."
Those three celebrities were huge for us, and I always remember what they told me. I keep it in my mind. It really fills my soul some days when I'm sitting here and I'm in a writer's block and I can't get forward.
I think about the three of them telling me, you can do this, you're going to do great, keep going, keep going. It doesn't matter how long it's going to take you, just put your voice out there.
I really got that from those three. And it stays in my head when I'm writing. It stays in my daughter's head when she's writing. She's also a writer and wrote her first book at age 16 titled: "Party, Sex & Drugs, A Teenagers Survival Guide," which still sells online today.
I think that gives us our strength to understand there's going to be hard times, there's going to be bad times, but you gotta keep going. You gotta put your hands on the steering wheel - you may go left, you may go right, but keep your hands on the steering wheel.
For more information on Lyndia Lipscomb please visit: www.LyndiaLipscomb.com.
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