I try not to post (or re-post) ignorance, or things that promote hate and cause conflict, but today I have to. Because I have a few things to say about this. And because I’m so freaking mad that I won’t sleep tonight or my head just might pop off if I don’t say it all. Agree or disagree as your will, but please do so as nicely as you can. Because, as you know, we’re all people doing the best we can. Even the lady who wrote this Facebook post that makes me want to throw bricks across my lovely yard.
To quote Ro Elori Cutno on her Facebook post:
“Please share & save a sister’s life!
Sandra Bland was an activist, may she rest in peace. Let’s not let her death be in vain. The Independent woman thinking will kill you! If your father is not your protector, you NEED a husband. Boyfriends did NOT commit to protect you, that’s what husbands are for.
Despite what you’ve been taught, you cannot be your own man/protector. Learn man code! Men treat women how the men in their lives value them. For safety, our women need husbands too! If Sandra had a husband involved on day 1, 2, or 3; she would probably be alive today! Learn to soften up, get a MASCULINE husband, and let him protect you. Who else has to die before you learn???”
Okay… So, I get what she is trying to say. I do, or I think that I do. She’s saying (I hope, in most basic terms) that having a man will keep you safer in life in all ways, and that your life and your family and yourself will be better cared for if you are not on your own. You will be viewed and treated differently if you do not have a husband. So you should have one. Or, use the men in your family if need be.
That sentiment I can totally get. And I agree with it. How could I not? I lived in poverty raising three kids on my own and caring for my disabled mother for many, many years. My life was hard, and I was not treated well or talked to nicely by so many people in my life. But here is where I get upset. Some (most) of those people that treated me not very nice? They were the men who gave me my children, the men that were specifically NOT taking care of their own kids, much less me. But it was also the men in my own family that were harsh and cruel to me. I was never physically abused by partners or parents or uncles, but I was talked down to. Told it was all my own fault. Kicked when I was very, very down and I felt unloved and terrible. And I was trying my best with way more on my plate than I could handle. The worst part is that I’m pretty sure they thought they were helping me. As if I was some kid needing a scolding rather than someone who could not care for everyone on a minimum wage salary, even with 2 jobs.
Not everyone has men in their lives who will care for them, in any way. I could name off 50 times that I needed help and no one would do it. But the one I always come back to is being 71/2 months pregnant and tearing up my ankle by missing a step in the dark. My ankle was swelled up to bigger than my knee. I couldn’t walk for almost a month. I couldn’t work. I was stuck and miserable and scared. And so broke. And you know what? No one would help. I called and asked and texted, begging for help. Not money, but help. Giving kids rides, picking up my mom from appointments or the girls as they bustled around. But you know what I got? Someone to walk my dog, once, on day one of the injury. After that, everyone was too busy to do anything. And I get that. I do. We’re all busy. But I nearly always felt scared and hopelessly alone.
So I scooted down the steps from my apartment to get to my driveway. My mother borrowed me her walker so I could roll with my weight on my bad knee and half hop to my car, trying to keep my balance, cause you know, I was huge pregnant. And I would pick up and drop off my girls and get groceries and everything else like that. You know why? Because every single person that I could ask for help told me no. And for good measure, most of them told me that it was my own fault for having kids in the first place. For not being more careful and hurting myself. For being pregnant. Even that it was my fault for taking on my mom and her constant health problems, as if there was anyone else who was going to do it. I was always being told that I should be farther along in life than I was and that’s why my life was hard.
This went on for years. And any saving graces that I got were from women. A friend that gave me 5 bags of baby and toddler clothes and nearly every single baby gear item that I would need for the Brice. The woman that found me an opening for my child support case so that I only had to wait 7 months for money instead of 10 months. My mom, who was rarely healthy and had less money than I did, but was always bringing us food or borrowing me $20 or helping out with the kids as much as she could. Through all those years, it was women who cared for me when I needed it. Always.
So when I finally DID meet a man, a good man who loved me and cared about my kids and thought me amazing, I couldn’t trust him one bit. Because from what I knew of men, they bailed as soon as it got hard and then blamed you for everything for eternity. And really, I had enough of those in my life. I didn’t need any new ones.
But my husband saw through all that, even from the start. He saw that I was hurt and scared and traumatized by what life had thrown at me. He saw how hard I worked and how good my kids were and how much I tried to make the best life I could for all of us with what little we had. And he saw my heart, beneath all the scared (or totally petrified and pretty pissed off) parts. He saw me.
Because he saw me, he came in slow and gentle. He didn’t push, ever. He didn’t ask a million questions and he let me come to him with everything. He knew that I would bring things forward when I was ready to. He gave me lots and lots of time and space to feel okay with him. And he still does. I am still a work in progress. The truth is that I’ve been with Steve nearly 3 years and it’s the longest relationship I’ve ever had. I feel like I’m still learning. But I always feel like that.
Right in the beginning of our relationship, Steve started sending me messages every day before work at 5 am, just sweet little morning notes telling me that I was special or how much he enjoyed seeing me. His gentle and kind little words became the start to my days and I found myself happy to wake up and read them.
One day, after a couple of months, his note read, “I know that you’re scared and that you don’t know what you want. You can keep pushing me away and telling me that you don’t need anything and that you’re fine. And I know you’re fine. But I want you to know that I’m going to keep coming back to see you, as much as I can and as much as you’ll let me, because I think that you are worth it. If you want me to go away, you’ll have to tell me. Otherwise I’m going to keep coming back for as long as it takes, no matter what we turn into, because I believe in you and I think this is worth it. And I want to be here for you.”
So I sat there in bed crying. No, bawling. And I knew that I was falling in love with him and I kind of knew he was the one but I didn’t want to admit it because I was SO scared. But he was right. And so was I. He is the one. This calm steady beat in a house full of melodies. He keeps us centered and balanced and on time. He keeps me grounded and calm. And he never, ever tries to take me down or blame me. He focuses always on building me up. Even when I’m a pain in the ass, he does this.
And he does make me feel safe. Safer than I have ever felt in my whole life. Safe in every single way. With my heart and my mind and my body and my home and money and kids and vehicles and vegetable gardens and deepest darkest secrets. He makes me feel that safe.
And I am safer. We have food to eat now, more than just cereal and mac and cheese. We have someone do the big strong jobs in our home, someone to provide for us. Someone to lead, although he is also strong enough in himself to be okay following when that’s in order. He doesn’t know everything, and he doesn’t need to. He also knows that he is a work in progress. He says that we are partners, and we are. We weigh in and value each other.
And this brings me back to the article. Because as I said, I sort of make a good example of some of her points.
But here is the part that is missing in her equation. I did not go out and buy Steve from the Kwik Trip down the road. I did not order him on Amazon after saving up my pennies from my minimum wage job. I did not unearth him in some archeological dig in Texas, nor did I find him on social networking or an online dating site. Because it is just not that easy.
I found my mate, my partner, my husband and lover and best friend only after I found myself. And only after I learned to stand on my own two feet. I really think that this is a big key to making it work. You can’t know or love anyone until you do that for yourself, and for many of us, that takes time alone and hard times to crack the shell and reveal who we are inside.
Do I wish that I didn’t have to go through all that time alone and scared and hungry and miserable? Of course! No one wants to live that way. But really, I’m also glad. I wasn’t ready for Steve before. And had I not gone through all that I did, I would not, could not, have appreciated him. I found him when I was ready. Not all the years that I needed him, not when my girls were little and needed a daddy, not when my mom had her heart attack or when I finished college or moved back to Wisconsin. I found him when I was ready to be a wife and a partner.
I wish there were some way to keep women safer. It’s scary out there for us. I admit that. But my concern is that this Facebook post is using women’s fear to drive them toward a man. Any man. Whoever they can get. But fear does not create a good mindset for decision making. Women who choose someone because they are afraid for their safety will not be choosing someone who is good for them. They’ll choose whoever will take them. And that causes its own problems. So many problems.
So how about we try to change the world to accept all kinds of families and people? So that women can just live their lives rather than think they have to marry or have the perfect family to be protected. How about we all protect them? How about we strive to create a world where women don’t need such protecting? How about we all work on that?
Always, thoughts and comments and opinions are welcome. Meanness is not welcome and will get you booted. But I’d do that if you spoke nasty in my living room too, so…