My father went to The Betty Ford Clinic when I was in college. I can still feel the pain in the pit of my stomach about that whole situation. An eighteen year old kid, a freshman in college, unable to process or care about the fact that my father was in treatment, AGAIN. So I never knew all this about Betty Ford, until today. But it turns out we have a lot in common.
Betty was a dancer. She adored dance and started her own studio in High School and then had the privilege to dance with Martha Graham in New York City in the early 40’s when Graham was pushing boundaries and encouraging freedom in movement. “[Martha Graham] shaped my whole life. She gave me the ability to stand up to all the things I had to go through, with much more courage than I would have had without her.”
Her first marriage ended in divorce. A difficult road in the early 60’s. She was the sole provider and worked through gender inequalities of pay first hand.
Her father died by carbon monoxide poisoning in the garage which I believe to be a suicide, but there is no proof. What does that mean? That there was no note? She was left having to take care of herself and her family something else that we have in common.
In 1973 she was on 60 Minutes talking about her children, premarital sex and drugs. She was very open with the public and this made them adore her. In 1975 she was TIME Magazine’s woman of the year. When her second husband became President of the United States she danced the disco at White House events.
She battled with addiction to alcohol and pain medication. She realized that there was not a safe place for women to go to handle dependency problems and she started the Betty Ford Clinic to address that.
She was awarded several medals from Presidents, wrote several books, and is highly regarded as changing the face of the political wife.
“The search for human freedom can never be complete without freedom for women” Betty was a huge proponent for the Equal Rights Amendment which as of today has not been ratified by my home state, Utah, or the current state I live in, Idaho. Really? Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey reintroduced the ERA in March 2013 – and who knows. I do. This still happens: No Equal Rights for Women