Hello Mrs. Petty,
I would like to personally thank you for your generosity, compassion and understanding in regards to considering and referring my family to be sponsored for this Christmas Season! The gifts received were definitely needed and are extremely appreciated.
Honestly, it was a bit uncomfortable for me to divulge our needs and wants that I once was able to provide with ease on my own. Although it is the holiday season and spirits are supposed to be full of joy, my dedication and obligations to my child, Army Veteran pride, feelings of isolation and managing so much on my own while being in a predicament that was not self- inflicted began to cause me sadness.
The reality of my limited income quickly reminded me of the unfair and unpleasant experiences that got us to this moment in life which now forces me to continue to stay strong, seek self-improvement and persevere. Instead of allowing my feelings of sadness, defeat, anger and embarrassment (just to name a few) overwhelm me, I chose to dig deep down within myself and once again place those feelings to the side as I focus on a larger picture which is the reason that I have been able to keep going thus far.
My daughter's happiness means more to me other than dallying in an emotional place that is not healthy for me. Contrary to belief, my apprehensions to ask for help were strongly weighed by my military pride and conditioning that "traditionally" black women just aren't supposed to ask for "outside" (someone else to) help her care for her family’s needs. Doing so was a display of weakness, or a sign of inability to "hold it down." Or better yet, unworthy of the vitality in regards to the definition of a real black woman considering our self-possessed strengths and proclamations of not needing anything except our faith.
Embarrassment haunted me just by the thought of anyone I know finding out that my needs are not completely being met through the help of prayer and my hard work alone. Further, I imagined the judgment and assumptions of me as to how and why I am in this predicament in the first place. Defensive thoughts of who I may have to tell my story to prior to them asking a billion uncomfortable questions overcame me, but I prepared myself mentally so that I can keep a sense of control over my situation and emotions.
The now and again myth of all black women possessing invincible strength, are completely self-sufficient and not in need or should not expose our emotions i.e. softer sides, has conditioned most of us to shy away from just asking for help and support that may be available to us, myself included. Other times it's simply lack of empathy, judgment or concern.
Although I would love to hold those titles of stability on a regular basis an inner pride radiates with the envisioned idea of that ongoing tenacity I do realize that for me, it’s just not a reality. I do get weak, I hurt and cry, I feel low and get afraid, but I also am able to nurture my inner strengths as I recognize when it’s time to admit that sometimes I just can’t do it all on my own. My life experiences and service time in the military has taught me that showing weakness on any scale is unacceptable.
Personally, my worry and embarrassment of who may find out that I am in need and fears also develop from the stereotypes that are easily attached to a woman such as myself asking for assistance. Those stereotypes equate to a lower class, uneducated, lazy persons looking for handouts. When in contrary I know that I am none of the above. I do realize that most female veterans and women of color who are in need are hardworking, dedicated women/mothers who continue to defeat the odds. We are victors, queens and examples of a feminine power who may have had at one time or another in our lives twice as much as we now struggle to hold on to in the current moment.
We are fighters who, despite the cynics and abusers in our paths, continue to move forward. Knowing that, and experiencing your nonjudgmental approach, I thank you sincerely for extending your thoughtfulness and generosity.
T. Hill, a female Army vet, was one of the women sponsored by *Evangel Cathedral, and the National Resource Society For Women Veterans, Inc. in December 2014. Unfortunately, her story is not an uncommon one. Many female vets experience shame, depression and even a sense of defeat when faced with the situation of not being able to provide for their family like they had been able to in the past. But as T. states, “We are fighters who, despite the cynics and abusers in our paths, continue to move forward.”
*NRSWV would like to thank Heather Jones of Evangel Cathedral or connecting it's giving members to our organization. "We appreciate, and acknowledge the LOVE!"