“Walking away to rebuild life as a single working mom was the best decision I made”
Alison Rego is committed to her own growth
There is a sense of comfort that comes with living in your country, your own home. But it is in discomfort, out of our safety net, that we manage real growth. At least that’s what Allison Rego believes. “As an expat in a different country, you’re not in your comfort zone. You have to make it work.”
Rego met her partner while living in the UAE. She had an established career in the energy sector but decided to settle in India with her spouse after their marriage. She moved back to the UAE in 2009, this time as a single working mom.
In her 40s now, Rego says she didn’t grow up in an age where “women were given a seat at the table, in a lot of ways”. But with open-minded parents, she never felt held back. “When I was 15-16 years old, my dad would say, ‘you can go out, I’m trusting you’. Which, for that time, was a big deal. So to come from a household like that to being in a marriage where I was abused and treated badly was a big shock,” says Rego.
We learnt of Rego’s inspiring journey while collaborating with DeBeers Forevermark on their new campaign which redefines the meaning of “I Do”, a time-honoured and deeply emotional expression of intent. While these two power-packed words hold the weight of committing to another person as wedding vows, the campaign broadens the scope to include personal pledges and commitments of all kinds. Such as the commitment Rego made to herself and her young daughter when she walked away from marriage after three years.
“I used to give chance after chance. At some point, I had to draw the line. My commitment is to my growth and that of my child. To learn from the mistakes, and more importantly, not repeat them,” says Rego.
There were a string of challenges with moving back to the UAE. She was switching careers in the middle of a pandemic because her former work in the energy sector didn’t align with her current beliefs of living an eco-conscious, sustainable and vegan lifestyle. Today, she works for a business that uses gymnastics to build confidence in children.
Looking back at her life, she says, “I would call myself quite daring, if I may say so myself. Because I do take those chances. Do I always succeed? No, but you learn from failure.”
When Rego said ‘I Do’ to herself, it was quite a subversion of the traditional meaning of the phrase. She did the opposite, by walking away from her marriage. “I really believe women must walk away from things, people, places that serve no purpose. And abuse definitely serves no purpose. I have a three chance rule. For anything in life, if something’s not going a certain way or feeling right, I’ll give it three chances and then walk away. In my marriage, I did it for three years, not three chances, but I think at some point, and it’s not easy, you have to wake up and smell the coffee.”
Rego encourages women to build towards financial independence for that sense of safety, something she’s teaching her daughter as well.
Despite juggling responsibilities as a single working mom, she insists this was the best decision. “Would I have liked to have an easy life without hurdles? Of course, but I don’t believe that exists. What I was meant to learn from these experiences, I did. My daughter will have her own journey. All I can do is prepare her the best I can and support her through it.”