I am smart, strong, determined and damn sassy. So how the hell did I fall into disadvantage? Well, I followed my heart and fell on my ass!

I come from a ‘normal’ family. You know the deal, mum and dad, one brother, one sister, traditional suburban quarter acre block. Yep, my kind of normal.

School was a bore and a chore so I left for the big wide world of work and I loved it. My parents were hard workers so it was no surprise that they instilled this in me and I revelled in it. They never shied away from getting whatever needed to be done, and neither did I. 

 

I always felt like I was the black sheep…

 

Following my own path, making my own way in the world, never listening to traditions or what ‘everyone else was doing’. I didn’t listen to anyone, I liked the way I lived. My decisions, my control. I continued to gained my own experiences in life through early adulthood, even taking on study in the field of HR at Monash Uni (who would have thought this girl who hated school, would go back to school!?).  I chose to do whatever felt right at every particular crossroad. It worked for me.

 

Kids were never on my radar

 

I was a worker, not a nurturer. Marriage, hhhmmmm, not important but I guess my friends and I all felt the pressure of ‘tradition’. I was in my late twenties and doing my thing, living life as a single woman and making my own choices. 

I met a guy, he was awesome, very laid back and chilled, we bought a house, had a child (lets call him beautiful boy number one) then got married.  Everything ass about, apparently!  Post Natal Depression (PND) is a horrid affliction on a new mum. Why the hell would the world inflict this terrible mental health illness on anyone, especially when you are in the grips of transforming yourself from partner, lover, best friend, party animal etc into mother, nurturer, milk producer, nappy changer or a smile gushing human?  

It rips those opportunities from you and its relentless beatings of disorganisation and disorientation bear down on you. It surrounds you, hounds you, drags you backwards into a deep dark dungeon from where you cannot escape. You just sit in it, nothing but darkness and isolation. The perceived ‘best days of your newborn’s life’ turn into an anxiety ridden, exhaustion fuelled, emotional rollercoaster that you are now just a passenger of and are no longer in control of anything. 

 

Those days turned into weeks and months and years

 

I didn’t know what to do and my partner certainly had no idea how to help me.  At the time, the years of depression seemed to blend into each other. Lost timeframes, lost momentous occasions, lost motivation, it was all swallowed up into the black hole. We had another child (this one is beautiful boy number two), whoops (what happened to contraception?), then got divorced! It wasn’t the path I thought would be ahead for our children. 

I had tripped over and fallen off my path. I didn’t know which way to turn, to stay in my house or leave my house. Keep paying a mortgage or rent, bloody hell, this is hard, so hard. I’m so tired, please someone just pick me up. Right foot, left foot, just start walking, keep walking.  Get up out of bed, make lunches, keep going.  You can do this. Get up, keep moving.  Find your path again. 

Then a perceived light at the end of the tunnel walked towards me, all 6ft 2 of it and a bit.  Empathy, understanding, support, guidance, love. This was it, I found it. It was right there for me, ripe for the taking. So I took it, giddy from my inside out. I thought for the quickest of moments, is this too good to be true? Apparently so! Two years later, after blending families, I found myself on maternity leave (with beautiful boy number three) after finalising my financial settlement with my ex-husband. My 6ft 2 and a bit turned from Mr Dreamy to Mr Nightmare! Financial controller, dress code conductor, friendship monitor, emotional distress inflictor. My choices had now left me with no control. Financially, it drained me, we went backwards $100k in less than a few months. The promise of 12-months maternity leave was reneged upon and I found myself scrambling to rebuild my life and fighting the onslaught of PND while living with a narcissistic control freak.  

I swallowed my pride, I called on friends, found support and started to share my stories about living a life walking on egg shells. They had no idea.  I hid it well.  The four years felt like two decades. The police became involved and I was able to return home with my three beautiful boys to start over.

What could I do, a corporate role again with three beautiful and very young boys wouldn’t work. I needed income fast and it needed to have flexibility. Geez, $100 a day for daycare wasn’t within my budget. What could I do with a three little ones? After an amazing night out with girlfriends and their support and encouragement, I decided to clean. Yes, that’s right, I picked up a microfibre cloth and got myself a client. It all started with one client!  It ain’t sexy but it started to put food on the table. 

 

And so it began…

 

I own the Goddess Cleaning Group located in the South Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne. We empower women from disadvantaged and domestic violence backgrounds by giving them a hand up to provide for their family and move out of the vicious cycle of abuse and disadvantage. Supporting the women in our local community is close to my heart because of my own journey through domestic violence.  As a result, Goddess Cleaning Group was born and is now employing 16 others looking to break that same cycle of disadvantage.  

Have you ever felt the swell of your heart when you have given a disadvantaged woman the incredible news that she has been given an opportunity to put food on the table and pay for the roof over her children’s heads? Have you ever smiled so broadly when your team member told you that they bought their child a new pair of shoes for the very first time?  Have you ever stood up from your desk and danced like no one was watching while punching the air, all because an employee tells you that it’s their time to leave and spread their wings? I have. It’s insane, it’s exhilarating, it’s empowering and it’s what I experience on a regular basis.

This is me, breaking the cycle of disadvantage, one microfibre cloth at a time…

Do you have a heart swelling moment? Have you risen from disadvantage? 

Stacey Barrass

Stacey Barrass

Managing Director at Goddess Cleaning Group
Stacey is parent of three boys who are 16, 13 and 9. When she became a solo parent (escaping from a verbally, emotionally and physically abusive relationship), Stacey handed in herresignation from the corporate world and commenced cleaning homes during school hours. From those humble beginnings to a team of sixteen, Stacey is forcing her way through this industry to turn it on its head. She is creating an environment where her team members are celebrated for their hard work and not looked down upon due to the current ‘cleaner’ mentality. Her focus is on employment of women from disadvantaged backgrounds and those emerging from similar unsavoury relationships and situations. Stacey aims to fill their confidence cup, build their self-esteem and encourage them to break the cycle by creating their own life with positive changes.
Stacey Barrass

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