Sitting on the toilet, shaking with adrenaline and slumped over from fatigue, I looked my husband in the eyes as he kneeled down in front of me. After learning I had incurred something between a 3rd and 4th degree vaginal tear (yikes!) during childbirth, it was time for my first trip to the bathroom, and my husband was my companion.
After I finished tentatively relieving myself, he was ready with, what all mothers know as, the blessed peri-bottle. I was too shaky and uncoordinated after using all my strength to give birth to take care of one of my most basic needs at that time, cleaning myself, and my husband was there to help me. I was so embarrassed for him to see my new stitches, watch me as I bled, and sit before me as I *gulp* passed gas as he was level with my most private parts.
I shamefully whispered, "I'm so sorry." To which he replied, "You have nothing to be sorry for. I want to take care of you."
Though not always spoken, this has been the exchange throughout our entire marriage, and I have to humble myself to it time and time again. It is hard for me to constantly need his help and his strength because I was raised in the 90's and early 2000's. I was raised observing Oprah, Tyra Banks, Phylicia Rashad, and the Mowry sisters. Black little girls could grow up to be black women who run the world! Inspired by them, I set my sights on taking over any and every thing I could. In high school, I was in the senate. Then I was Class President, and then Student Body President. I was in Honors French and Honors chorus. Oh, and I got my black belt in Tae Kwon Do...no big deal.
At Hampton University, I majored in entrepreneurship and graduated with the award of being named the most excellent student in my major, while leading a region of my church's campus ministry. Upon graduating, I partnered with my mentor to open a school, worked many 12-hour days, and eventually led our team to national accreditation. Take that, world! I wasn't even 30 yet.
- Believes how they look is more important than how they feel
- Lives with debilitating self-doubt, never fully trusting their emotions
- Struggles with feeling seen or heard
- Has difficulty developing a healthy sense of self
- Never feels good enough
- Believes he/she is unworthy of love
It is not surprising that I eventually had a doctor diagnose me with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and depression several weeks before my wedding. On one hand, I was relieved to finally get answers, and on the other hand, I was reeling from this revelation so close to a new, exciting stage in my life.
My husband was my cheerleader when I dragged my feet to begin going to therapy. When I would make excuses about not wanting to spend the money or not wanting to take the time to go, he assured me that my well-being was of the utmost importance.
When we drove to South Carolina to care for my mother while she was ill and clean her filthy house (neglected due to her illness), he was there with me. He rubbed my back as we stood in line to purchase cleaning products. He rested his hand on my thigh as we drove the 7 hours home and I cried the whole way back while listening to The Preacher's Wife soundtrack. He was my rock.
When my mother passed away, he allowed his lap to be soaked with my tears as I sobbed and heaved.
When I was pregnant, he rubbed my feet nightly and my belly when I suffered from indigestion (almost nightly). He learned to cook many new dishes as I was too drained to cook, but I still wanted good food.
When I resigned from my directorship to salvage my mental health, he was supportive. He is my biggest cheerleader when I speak at conferences and workshops,
I am a strong black woman, and I need my man. The two are not mutually exclusive.
I don't know where I would be without him. I appreciate Destiny's Child's "Independent Woman", but the song does not resonate with me. I am not building my legacy alone. I do not pay my bills alone, craft my dream alone, or garner my strength alone. I've been blessed with a lifelong partner, and I depend on him for grounding and encouragement. We are not without faults or quarrels, but I love my man. I appreciate my man, and at the end of a long work day, I say, unashamed, I need my man.
Don't get it twisted. I am not an advocate of codependency. You shouldn't depend on your partner to take care of things that you can handle. Maintain healthy friendships outside of your partner, and avoid seeking permission from your partner. They should be a source of inspiration and encouragement, not allowance.
When I say I "need" my man, I mean this in the most healthy and beautiful way possible, and I want this for you too!
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