This Entrepreneur's Oppressive Marriage Became The Driver For Her Success


Tami Fitzpatrick's story is so intense, fascinating and astonishing that you'll surely wonder if you're reading a movie script. But, the story of this entrepreneur is real and incredibly true. She skeptically moved to Beirut with her oppressive husband (and had three children by him) and ended up leaving the country and her marriage under dramatic circumstances.

It was upon her return home to the United States that she launched the business Thunderbolt International (TBI) with inventor Edward Shaver and sold three million dollars in tornado defection software.

But, Tami's story doesn't end there with a happy ending tied up neatly in a bow. It's not just about good business sense—it's about empowerment and standing up for yourself—and worth—when no one else will. It's about taking risks, following your gut and doing the right thing—which is extremely different from doing the easy thing. Fitzpatrick walked away from TBI because she was undervalued. But, today, her company Entropy Technology Design, Inc. is launching Nimbus 4, an advanced, real-time, severe weather detector—including real-time lightning and tornados—that's a true game changer. But, to hear the woman who lived it talk about it, it becomes clear that it's more than just saving lives and getting people out of harm's way—it's a movement to change the world and how we help one another.

“I want women to understand you don't have to sacrifice," says Fitzpatrick. “There's always a way out." Here, Fitzpatrick explains in her own words how her journey unfolded, what it's taught her and what she wants other women who feel trapped—be it in a relationship or career—to know.

“I was in a marriage of ten years that was oppressive, depressing, isolating. I followed this man to where he lived [in Beirut] believing that it was going to be a fairy tale princess kind of lifestyle for myself and it was completely the opposite. We had three small children and for the first five years that we lived in Beirut, he never took me to the US Embassy to register or meet any other Americans. The seclusion was very real and I didn't tell family or friends back in the States because I didn't want them to see that I'd made such a huge mistake. After I hit rock bottom, I realized I had to find my own way out. He didn't do anything to help me. When I woke up the next day and was still alive, I went, 'Wow! I'm still here!' Something snapped inside of me—something that I pull from even today. I said, 'You're the only person who's going to get you out of here—you're not going to rely on someone else, you're not going to rely on family—it's going to be you and I've got to dig deep inside and find the strength to get out of this impossible situation.'

Three months after, I managed to get myself contracted by the State Department, working in the public affairs office of the US embassy. Five years later when war broke out between Israel and Hezbollah—I knew that was my opportunity to get out. The Ambassador approved us to leave on a military chopper. I told my husband, “I'm leaving—you can come or you can go—but I'm leaving."

So, with one suitcase each, and bombs going off everywhere, we managed to leave on the last chopper out of the country. It was exhilarating because, after 15 years, I saw the light and I knew I was about to be free. I was about to go back on my turf, to my world. Within three weeks of being back in the US, I had the kids in a new home, a new school and I was about to set off some bombs of my own to free myself from my marriage. He gave me nothing—no child support, no money—but, I said, “That's fine, I want nothing from you! I will take care of the three kids, I will do everything myself."

I pulled from that inner strength when I started my first business, Thunderbolt International, selling severe weather lightning detectors. I sold three million dollars' worth of these devices. I met the inventor Edward Shaver and as he explained his technology to me, I knew it was something that I could market around the world. I'm unafraid of unchartered waters and I've always been entrepreneurial. When I was young, instead of dreaming of getting married and having children, I fantasized about having a business career and inspiring other women.

But, ultimately, Thunderbolt failed—the product itself didn't fail but I refused to give up 51 percent ownership of my company to a creditor that wanted to control everything. I fought back on that and when I refused to give in, I lost everything again. I took a few months to lick the wounds. I had to sell my car so I could take care of my kids and pay the rent. I had to sell my furniture to keep my kids supported. And then I asked myself, 'Okay, what do you want to be when you grow up?'

I was continually pulled back into this environment because Shaver, really pioneered this industry with the first handheld lightning detector back in the late 90s. That's why I stay with this because I saw the value in Thunderbolt and I realized no one was doing what we're doing. I started Entropy by turning to Mr. Shaver and saying, 'Look, I believe in what you're doing, I believe that you have even more things to invent, better than the Thunderbolt.

Let's get back in this arena again.' We started with a negative—I had nothing in my bank account—and I went out and raised a million dollars towards the 1.5 million goal. We started from scratch and what we've created with the Nimbus is so incredibly powerful that it will literally change the way that the world reacts to weather.

My dream is that when it's fully developed, it'll feature sensors that can be placed on cable and phone towers and building—and then cover entire cities, states and nations with its detection.I want the Nimbus beacons to be visible from miles away as a sign of weather and safety information—but also a visual sign of hope. I want to create facilities where people see those beacons and know they can come to that area for food, shelter, clothing and more. It's much more than providing safety. Once I really make the billions of dollars that I believe Nimbus will make, I have this dream that I'll give it back into finding the women who aren't visible—the ones like me at my darkest hour. I didn't have internet or a phone.

You get swallowed up and forgotten. You're sitting alone in the corner of your room and feel like the world doesn't know you're there. I want to find a way to pull women out of that when they don't have any other way to wave their hand and say, 'Hey, I'm here.'

Women think they're supposed to hide the pain and they're supposed to accept that's just the way things are. But, every woman has her strength, and every woman has her story. Feeling you must accept what you're given is simply no longer true. Don't accept it— fight back. I'm not saying fight with claws—I think it's important that we're classy, sophisticated and have dignity. But, don't accept being put down simply because you're a woman. Believe in yourself and trust yourself. All women are strong. We share that common thread."

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Patriarchy Stress Disorder is A Real Thing and this Psychologist Is Helping Women Overcome It

For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.

As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.

Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.

What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein

This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.

Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.

While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.

"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.

Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.

In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.

"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."