It’s Love Month, And I Ain’t Worried…

I have been married twice. I have always been in a relationship. So, to be in this position after being with someone almost 7 years, it is strange to be by myself for the first time in almost a decade. But, it’s strange how quickly I have fallen back into just doing me.

Like truly doing me.

I am in a place and at an age that I have become intolerant of my time being wasted, I am not randomly smashing, and have my own money. I can lay out in my bed, and not touch anything but pillows and peace! There is a peace that comes with this level of singleness, with being single this time, it feels different. I am not sure if this is because of me about to turn 40 (I am still in real disbelief about this!), but this bout of singleness feels different. Dare I say it, this feels natural. It feels appropriate to be single right now. I mean, I am in awe of that right now. I am in awe of how settled I am–I don’t take that lightly though. I am at the age now where I would rather be alone than wishing that I was!

I am learning to be okay to be by myself. I am learning myself again, what I like and even who I want to spend time with. I am becoming more me than I think I ever was before. I am…happy. I have peace when I wake up now, and when I lay down. When I have to make a decision, I can do it without thinking about how it will sound to anyone else–or needing their approval!

I am a single girl who has never had a problem getting a date, or laid, whom has called herself an Eternal Juliet; whom in a former life had the nickname, Amoranda (which means worthy of being loved), is single for the first time in over a decade collectively.

And I am now in love, with myself. As it should be.

Week 1: “Am I Bitter?”

I’ve been known for the phrase, “I’m running out of sweet.” All this somewhat enigmatic phrase means is, “I don’t feel like being nice anymore.” What I have noticed in this latest bout of being single is there is a coolness that has come on me now. It is the roux of hurt, suspicion, and doubt–and it has formed brick around my heart, and I can feel it. I fight it off, and sometimes that doesn’t always work out.

The thing that I confront, or try to confront at the end of relationships is the simple question of, “What happened?” I understand that the greater question is always this, but I ask it aloud. I understand that my problem is that when I am in love with someone, I want the best for them, and I want them to be cared for. I want them to be happy! I give and give until I cannot give anymore. And in that giving, I realize the reason I do this is because of doubt. That, and I don’t want the ghost of being considered a ‘bitter woman.’

You know the ones! The women that are the protagonists in Harlequin novels: tough as old bread, believing love is a lie and then she meets a bad boy with the same hurts. Then through the magic of time an circumstance, they have kismet sex on to run from each other. At the end they wind up together. Happily ever after in 200 pages–Nora Roberts is aces at this (no shade, she’s amazing).

But I have been wondering in this. Really wrestling with this, dear ones. I have been married and divorced and done it again. I have chosen to not drag either ex-husband through the gauntlet of the internet because they don’t need that. That is the last grace I can give–I can be a classy lady when needed.

But the thing now, after the end of this almost decade relationship is this, and I ask it aloud to all of you, and the angelic host:

“Do I have enough in me to do that again?”

What is the ‘again’ you ask? The dating, talking to people, trying to get to know them, and being serious about them–or they being serious about me. Do I really want to go through that again only to end up hurt again? What I have done is give my all to my romantic relationships so that IF/WHEN they end I can say that I did everything I can.

The question that still linger is, “Do I have enough in me to do it again?”

The Pick Me’s, Wife Schools, Standards & Criteria

Image result for pick mes

I am not a ‘Pick-Me.’ None of the women I know are ‘pick-me’s. I do not have the strength, time, ability or patience to be a ‘Pick-Me’. When I was actively dating, I wasn’t a Pick-Me! My mother, and father, always wanted me to have some sort of class, decorum and criteria about the men I decided to date. My father, the Urban Prophet Richard Bush, told me two pieces of advice which have guided my dating life:

“Every man you meet, you don’t need to have a baby by.”

“If a man likes you just a little bit, you’ll be amazing what he’ll do for you!”

These two pieces of advice have saved me time, effort and money in certain cases! So, imagine my horror–yes, horror!–at these gorgeous, sentient women doing all they can to conform to what a man wants! I mean I thought the idea of a Wife School was a whole, insane joke–until I saw these presenting ceremonies! Until I saw a Black woman kneeling at the feet of her husband while he ate–and she looked at the floor!

Lookahere, Sis. Do you. I ain’t able. Not at all. But what I need you to understand is, not every woman is built for this. I will never tell my daughters, my nieces, grandchildren, spiritual daughters, they need to be the one to conform, to change to suit the needs of a man. My faith tells me that a man who wants a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord.

A man who wants a wife, should know what that means! Women are not property–no matter how much sex you pay for, trade for or take. There is no way in all of creation I will tell my daughters to be less than whom they are–or will become–so someone can pick them.

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I get it, Sis. I do! We all want someone to go out with, to make us feel gorgeous, to break out backs on a regular basis. I get it. I do. But at what cost, ma’am?! There are men out here who get off on treating women like this and throwing (errant) Bible at this. Submission, and all that. There are men who are happy to make sport of your devotion–I don’t know how being a side chick/mistress/side-chicking became a whole freelancing career, but that’s toxic patriarchy and internalized misogyny for you.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be married, get married, or being with someone. Nothing at all! My issue with Pick-Me culture is it’s the bastard cousin of rape culture. How you ask? Rape culture doesn’t value women. Pick-Me culture tells women that they are only valuable if they have a man/spouse/partner.

Rape culture doesn’t think women need to be valued; their value is only attributed to what they can give–or what can be taken from them. Women are to be owned, possessed, prized only by what can given from them. Pick-Me culture tells women they have no value other/outside of what is ascribed to them.

I cannot. I will not. You cannot make me.

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The woman I am becoming is confident, happy and has a criteria for the men she lets in her world. I am not an easy lay, I don’t need to pay for peen, and I am the first one to say that ‘this wife thing’ is hard. But, I’ll be black damned if I kneel next to my husband why he eats! I will be the biggest fool to dim my light because he can’t stand the heat of it! I would be bigger ass than a herd of mules to allow a man’s opinion to supplant what I think of myself! What part of the game is this? How did I miss this? What was I doing that I missed this whole ho-side chick-wife school movement?

Oh, I know! I was raising children, building a career, being a sister, building a brand, and finishing a degree and dismantling white supremacy with the alphabet and my own superhero Blackness. I ain’t gotta be picked; my life doesn’t depend on being chose. For the women that depend on that? I guess I think I’m doing this woman/wife/Mama thing wrong.

I am in favor of you giving your all to a man you love–whom is willing to give you all of that back! That type of devotion has to be reciprocated. I still believe in love, great sex (built on intimacy!), and the idea that monogamy is still excellent. I believe being a wife is a call, is amazing and is insanely difficult. Building a life with someone is hard. It is constant, and on the best days–amazing. But it does not make me less of a woman to have criteria for suitors, standards for who I share my body with! It does not make me ‘difficult’ for wanting a career, something for ME, outside of my relationship.

I wasn’t raised to be a Pick-Me, bruh.  I chose me first.

 

When I Found My Claddagh Ring, I Almost Cried.

sterling-silver-ladies-authentic-claddagh-ring

Claddagh Ring Meaning

A popular piece of Celtic culture, the Claddagh signifies love, friendship, and loyalty. Traded among close friends and those in a romantic, committed relationship, a Claddagh portrays two hands holding a heart, topped with a crown.

The Claddagh is most often seen in a ring, but it can be expressed in necklaces and earrings as well. Some common reasons people wear Claddagh include:

  • As an engagement or promise ring: Yes, the Claddagh is so beloved, some use it to signify their romantic, lifelong commitment to one another.
  • Best friends: Close friends who want to honor their bond may wear matching Claddagh rings as a symbol of friendship and loyalty.
  • Looking for love: Wearing a Claddagh ring on your right hand with the bottom of the heart facing away from you is a signal that you are available.

 (Taken from Google)

I’ve always been a romantic. I’ve always had a flair for the dramatic. Perhaps this is my artistic nature. With that said, it is of no surprise really, that I kept a ring from a young man that I once wanted to give my everything.

I was 18, you see. I was. In love and a fresh-faced nursing student. I was in love with the idea of adulthood, American Movie Classics and this guy named Daniel Nelsen. In my years of dating, I never found a sweeter dude. He asked me to marry him. Sent me a key to his house, and said I was his everything.

Like with all young women eager for the world and its holdings, I’d break up with him when I wanted to date someone else. He was in New York, and didn’t leave. He’d take me back when I wanted and I did this to him for 2 years. Until, I finally told him how I was treating him was wrong.

In the madness of our coming together and leaving, he told me to pick out a ring. I was about to be chose chose! I wanted this ring to be distinct, unique and totally unlike any other I had ever seen.

I got the idea that I wanted a Claddagh ring from a Nora Roberts novel. She’s always so proud of her Emerald Isle heritage and this ring sounded like something I would love. That I have to have. Even now, so many years removed from wearing one I can spot on and the dating status of person wearing it.  

I remember the weight of it, how gorgeous it was. And it meant more to me than any jewelry I had ever owned. And our breakup was amicable, for the most part. And I haven’t spoken to him sense. There was no need to.

That’s ring replicated itself with my last serious boyfriend. I wanted one, I wanted that affirmation of what was unique and special about our relationship. When that shattered, I kept the ring. Which is odd for me. I kept this ring and stored it. I cannot tell you why.

It was only during a recent move that the small white box was unearthed. I saw the tarnished silver ring and thought. Not about the guy, but about–loss.

The loss of time.

The loss of future, and alternate nows.

I thought about how I allowed myself to be the damsel in distress waiting on someone to save me–waited for the kiss in the glass coffin; save from the spinning wheel; rescued from the tower.

 Yet, those before were not strong enough to stay. Or desired to rescue. I thought about trust I had given. Willingly. Pieces of me I gave away. Willingly. I thought about how none of what I gave to them could ever be given back to me. Ever. Conversely, nothing I did to them could ever be made right.

I lost what I could not replace or barter or hustle for more of: time.

I wept because the ring, with its tarnish, remembered.

Being Part Of The Knot-Part 2: More Than A Day

My dream wedding dress is a Vera Wang, and it is more than $5000.00. Without a veil. No shoes. Just the dress–cloth, dye and thread–is as much as a used car.

But, I found this dress while I was dating a man that tried to kill me in the apartment we lived in with his father and his girlfriend. I thought if I just loved him hard enough, he would see how badly he had treated me, and I would get my happily ever after. So, with that goal in mind, I looked for a dress.

From the dress, I registered with theknot  and was determined to make this man love me. I wanted him to love me like I loved him. It wasn’t until that relationship was over did I realize how askew my focus was. And just how detrimental that is.

 

This isn’t the exact dress, but it’s damn close. 

 

I tease people that I grew up as a pagan. I didn’t come to knowledge of faith in Christ until I was 8. I was baptized at 16. I wasn’t brought up in a house that made or put God as its center. But. after 16? I knew that sex before marriage was wrong. With that guilt, compiled with a me sleeping with my ex on a regular basis? I knew that marrying him would make everything go away. All the guilt. All the shame. Once I put on this white dress, this ring and told God I would be his wife–my absolution would be complete.

But here’s the rub.

It’s deeper than chastity. It’s deeper than spending more focus on a dress than on a relationship. The rub was prizing the decor and decorations over a lifetime. Being with someone in a dating relationship is much different that being with someone in a marriage. In the pursuit of trying to be chose (which I’ll discuss later), I put up with behavior I wouldn’t think of putting up with now.

I wanted him to see how strong I could be. Just like the gold in the ring I wanted. I wanted to keep myself pretty, always eye-catching. Just like the diamonds I envisioned I would wear. I loved him, I forgave him, and accepted anything that he gave. I wanted him to see me as adaptable, like any circle. Like any ring.

Marriage is more than a wedding.

When people ask me what I think about relationships (which is actually pretty often), my advice is the same. I suppose now, with the most toxic relationship I have ever had being over almost 20 years ago, I have a unique vantage point. I stayed with a man that tried to kill me because he said he loved me. I stayed with him because after everything we had gone through, after everything he promised me, he owed me a ring.

He owed me dress, a day and the chance to celebrate us. That would be the proof that he loved me. It would be proof that I could maintain a relationship. It would be proof that I could withstand the ebbs and flows of a committed relationship. It was proof that I was wife material. A wedding, the wedding–my wedding–would be the ultimate trophy. It would have been a win for us. I would be the coda of everyone that didn’t think he was good enough for me. It would be a middle finger to everyone that thought we couldn’t wouldn’t last.

The altar wasn’t a culmination. It was a finish line.

Marriage should be a culmination.

A wedding is a party.

Marriage is what you do when no one is looking. The staying together when the world around you goes to shit. You shouldn’t have to prove how much you love someone by how much you take. Love doesn’t require being emotionally trampled. Being someone’s wife doesn’t mean that you need to prove your ability to get back up after being knocked down.

Marriage doesn’t change who people are, not really. It fortifies and reveals who they are! It shows if you have the ability to compromise, to be selfless or selfish. Can you compromise? Can you, do you hold grudges? Can you put do what is necessary because it has to be done? And the most important thing to consider:  can you want the best for someone whether it benefits you or not?

Can you allow this person that you chose, and whom has chosen you, to grow? To mess up? To forgive and be forgiven by? Do you have the stamina to really love someone?

If you don’t, if you cannot fathom such a thing beyond sex, then don’t bother picking a dress. Or buying a ring.

You ain’t ready.

 

 

 

 

Being Part Of The Knot-Part 1: The Seeking Game

I am a woman of faith. I believe in God and the power of His word and wisdom. The one thing that has struck me is this scripture:

He that findeth a wife, findeth a good thing and obtain favor from the Lord. 

(Proverbs 18:22. KJV)

With the wisdom found in this 15-word scripture, I feel,  has not been hewn out. Let me  tell you and unsweet truth.

Not every man is looking to for a wife.

Not every woman wants a husband.

There, now that we have established these two truths, let’s talk about The Seeking Game. This is also known as dating. Yes, dating.

On the cusp of turning 40, I quote my mother often. The quotes I cherish above any others deal with dating and relationships. This one is a favorite: “There ain’t nothing wrong with dating!”  Nowmy mother is almost 70. She is from an era that women expected a man to bring something to a relationship. Where criteria were created, held and appreciated. In the situations where there weren’t, a woman left. In that phrase, ‘there ain’t nothing wrong with dating’, gave me the freedom as a woman that was dating to be honest with the men I was attracting.

It also reminded me of my criteria, and what I wanted. It reminded me that the man that  want, has to match what I need as well! If I want to be a wife, I can’t be caught up with a man that doesn’t want one! Simple as that.

AS. SIMPLE. AS. THAT. 

I believe that to be chosen, in being chosen, for a relationship requires the desire to be chosen (What does that mean, Jenn?). That means you have to have the desire to be chosen, in order to be chosen! You have the right to sample and swim in the dating pool! You have a right to change your mind, say no, or to date without being serious or attached.

You have to be able to be honest with yourself when you date! You have be able to be alone with your thoughts. If you want to date casually, do that. If  you want to date with purpose, do that. But you have to make a decision! And that level of decision-making, is going to take a level of honesty few people are prepared for. Why? People don’t like to be alone, and we crave comfort and routine. As one of my girlfriends said:  Some people stay together out of time and convenience rather than loyalty.

The most irrecoupable thing you have as a human being is time. Once that is gone or wasted, there is nothing which can be done to snatch it back from that hungry abyss. Value what you bring. Value your criteria. Value your time.

Remember, there is nothing wrong with dating. There is nothing wrong with keeping your options open. But be honest about what you want–and adhere to that.