Like so many Black Women, I became independent out of necessity, not by choice.
I grew up poor.
Like so many little Black girls, I learned early to shut up, help out, or be put out.
So I got good at taking care of people.
I started working at 14, scraping up wax and cleaning floors at a junior high school at night. At 15, I lied about my age to sell shoes at the Kenney Shoe store.
With my first check, I bought my oldest sister a pair of riding boots. She loved me for it. I felt like I had done something good. So I worked to “help out” with the bills.
The more I provided the more I felt loved.
I learned how to make money so I could help the people I called my own. Money, in and of itself, wasn’t ever the goal. What mattered was I could provide.
And so I did.
I was proud.
The problem with providing is it’s easy to be used.
Taken for granted.
I just turned fifty.
For the first time in my life, I do not provide.
A Black Man who loves me won’t take my money.
I can’t dominate him with my wealth.
He provides for me.
In all honesty, I feel a bit helpless.
Why would he want me if I can’t take care of him?
I asked him why I can’t pay for things.
He smiles at me with his eyes.
He leans into my ear and whispers, “You are mine. I take care of you. Can I do that? Can I take care of my baby? Please?”
I feel myself falling backward in memory.
Tumbling through space and time.
Back to my mother’s belly.
Warm and safe.
Before I was born.
I hear my father whisper softly to my mother, “If you abort my seed, I will kill you. This baby is mine.”
My Him moves closer to me, speaks in a whisper that is soft and strong at the same time.
“I don’t want your money.
I want your heart.”
I feel shaky.
He knows I am scared of losing control.
Of trusting him like a trapeze artist without a net. Swinging high, in the air, five hundred feet above the ground.
Letting go of the bar.
Praying he catches me.
If he doesn’t, I fall.
He sees so clearly that my need to be independent is because no one has caught me when I fell.
Not my father.
Not a Black Man.
So he does the only thing that will comfort me.
He takes action.
He walks his talk.
He feeds me when I’m hungry and gives me rest when I am tired.
He provides certainty when I am overwhelmed and peace when I am wracked with rage.
He gives me his jacket when I am cold.
He picks up the phone EVERY time I call.
He provides for me emotionally by being a man of his word, so I am secure in him.
He provides communication so I don’t have to guess.
He provides grace when I get triggered and turn him into the enemy.
He provides vision when I feel like all is lost.
He provides tenderness that softens my heart to make room for him.
He loves me with a consistency I have never known.
I never thought I missed my father. How can you miss something you never had? And yet, I’m learning the true cost of not having a father, my father in my life: certainty.
I don’t have the trust and certainty that a Black Man will be there for me no matter what. My father wasn’t so why would any man?
I never missed it because I never had it.
I have provided for myself and so many others for so long, I now have to LEARN how to let a Black man take care of me.
For some reason this truth makes me want to cry. Not just for me, but for us sis.
How many Black women who didn’t have a father couldn’t learn how to let themselves be taken care of by a Black Man because it felt like a threat to their independence?
I don’t know.
I do know my father provided for me by saving me when I was a fertilized seed in my mother’s womb.
I love him for providing protection for me BEFORE I was born.
I regard that one action as proof that somebody loved me and wanted me before life taught me how to be useful.
It’s because of that singular act of care that I can lower my defenses and let my Him try.
I’m learning to let my Him provide for me financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
I am learning provision is more than money.
It’s protection in various ways as needed.
It’s prophesying/visioning over your life.
It’s praying for you when you can’t.
As I heal my father wound, I make more and more room for my Him to love, cherish, and provide for me.
I’m realizing when I let him provide, he fulfills his purpose for being alive.
Just like a father’s purpose for being alive is to love, protect, provide, and cherish that he which loves, I’m discovering that same purpose holds true for the Black Man who loves me.
And I am grateful.
By: Dr. Venus Opal Reese