I remember this day like it was yesterday. I was living in Fayetteville (Fort Bragg) at the time. It's a military town and I was at the Ross near the base, so I'm assuming she was a military wife.
While my ex served, I worked a full time job, went to school full time, took care of our daughter, the home and him. The wives on base use to call me "crazy" because according to them "working" wasn't apart of my "job". I literally had one woman tell me that "working outside of the home was selfish and disrespectful because he needed me at home". Another woman (one of his battle buddies wives I was cool with) asked me why I felt the need to "be so independent" when all I had to do was stay home and have kids.
I told her for several reasons, but two specifically...
1. Nothing is guaranteed. Should something happen and our marriage dissolve (and it did) and I am not properly educated and/or lack a set of skills that will allow me to position myself where I need to be in corporate america, how am I going to survive? Who is going to take care of myself and my child? What if he is hurt? or killed in combat? How am I going to continue moving forward and I can't do anything?
2. My education is and has always been important to me. With or without him, married or unmarried, babies or no babies, I'm going to make sure that if I can't get my checks the only person I have to blame is myself...plus as a military spouse, you receive additional financial assistance for college. I'd be a fool not to take advantage of it. I'm going to get SOMETHING out of all of this.
This woman told me that I was "doing too much". Oddly enough, several months later I ran into her again (her husband and mine were in the same unit and they were deployed) and we had lunch. She began to tell me all of the things that had taken place since we last spoke.
She found out he was cheating on her, while she was pregnant with her third child.
The other woman was pregnant.
He started drinking heavily and as a result became abusive
They were physically fighting all the time
She tried to go back to school and get a job and he wouldnt "let her"
She was worn out and miserable. She wanted to leave BUT she couldn't. Want to know why? She had nothing. No money of her own. No marketable job skills. No working history. No education past high school (they got married right out of high school). Didn't know anyone and was 3000 miles away from her family. She had nothing. She said she totally understood why I worked so hard to have my own even while being married and "taken care of". She said, "Jen, how the hell am I going to leave? I've got three damn kids? Who is going to want to help me?"
I explained to her that ANY man who doesn't want YOU to be able to do for yourself, is a man looking for control. He doesn't love you. Even if you don't HAVE to work, you should always have your own stashed away somewhere. When he knows you can't leave, when he knows you can't run, when he knows he has you "stuck"...he kept you pregnant, barefoot and broke...and now you are broken.
He was coming home soon and she wanted to be gone before he got there. She had a few months left before that happened, so I helped her with her resume (yeah we lied...a lot, lol), she got a little receptionist job and she started to save. At that time, I was running my entertainment website and was getting money from that so I watched her children when she couldn't find a babysitter. When they returned from deployment things were so hectic, I never got to speak to her again and follow up. Not sure if they relocated or what....but...what I'm saying is...
Nobody is going to love you and take care of you like YOU. No matter how much you love that man (or woman) you make sure that YOU are good always. Nobody in this world owes you a thing and before you trap yourself, make sure you "pad" yourself.
- Get educated.
- Learn (several) marketable skills/trades.
- Have a stash set up somewhere (and never let anyone know you have it)
- Keep your eyes open.
- Keep a few baddies in your circle.
- Always have a backup plan for the backup plan
And never let anyone push you into a corner or make you feel like you "NEED" them to survive. Every woman should push for self-reliance. Every woman should be able to care for herself. Being able to function independently from a man is a GOOD thing despite what is “hot” in the news. Being able to pay your own bills and sustain a lifestyle for yourself should be the goal of any adult woman especially in today’s dating climate.
Black Women are at a disadvantage. We don’t have the luxury of putting our complete trust in a man’s capability to care after us. We can’t even trust them not to hurt us.
It is important that we push ourselves to the point where no matter what happens “we” are okay. Anytime I hear a story about a Black woman being murdered or hurt by a man because she lacked the resources to get out I cringe because I already know the story.
This is why I will forever advocate for women having their own. I see young women on social media posting about “securing the bag” in terms of getting large amounts of money from men. I mean it sounds cool and all but in reality you are securing absolutely nothing. You can’t secure something that doesn’t belong to you and the idea that you can disturbs me. Even if you were to simply have a child with someone there is no guarantee that YOU will be able to “secure” that bag aka child support because there are things such as custody rights. Needless to say, unless you are having a baby by a wealthy man (which by proximately cancels the majority of these young women out) you are more likely to secure a headache and heartburn than a bag.
Remember, nobody puts "Baby" in the corner.
Owner of Love My Black, LLC + Eighty5OH8 -Award Winning Blogger/Author | Viral Troublemaker | Mother of One | Brand and PR strategist