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Monday, January 24, 2011

Love Hard, Hard Hurt

Move on.

These two words are easier for some of us to do than for others after a break up (whether it's the end of a casual dating relationship or divorce). Why is it that some people become obsessed with the "whys" of their breakups and seem to drown in despair, while others are able to quickly "move onto the next one"?

I regularly talk with friends who are having a hard time "moving on". I also have a hard time "moving on" (from anything or anyone because my loyalty is deep and fierce. I had a hard time moving on from my "jheri curl", from loving Charles Clingman and Maurcie Johnson--my Detroit childhood sweethearts who I never forgot--). The "moving on" to which I am referring is the letting go of memories of pain and hurt, not necessarily a person. While one may have the strength and clarity to realize that the one who they loved is better off estranged, he/she may still feel the deep pangs of loss and sorrow long after the relationship is over. And I'm not talking about bitterness, hatred and unforgiveness--not at all. I'm talking about being vulnerable to tears, heart ache, and cycles of depression and awareness of loss.

Some suggest the degree of post-break up trauma is gender determined. In his book "Men Don't Heal, We Ho--a Book About the Emotional Instability in Men", author Steven James Dixon argues that in order to avoid the pain of the loss of love, men turn to promiscuity--new lovers help to forget, they distract. I haven't read the book, but I've heard it's hilarious and eye opening as the author tells of how he was transformed from a man who used women to a faithful partner. Through escaping through using women sexually, he was always able to "move on" quickly--he thought he was, but a "mirror dropped down from heaven" (his words) to show that he was only masking a broken heart and soul.

While there may be some gender trends, I must say that I have met a few women (maybe a couple) who go through a myriad of relationships or partners, too, and seemingly, they're fine.

So, if you don't ascribe to the idea that men are able to just move on easier (and some people strongly argue that women are just more emotionally attached then men and are) simply because they are men, what determines how well and how easily one can "move on"?

I want to argue it's the degree to which one loves. I am more and more convinced that those who love deeply and who love well, are also hit much harder when that love abruptly comes to an end. Steven James Dixon wasn't loving women, he was using them for his own sexual gratification. Because he didn't allow his heart to open to a woman in sincere love, he was able to easily "move on".

My uncle says there are two categories of people: "givers" and "takers" (I do see these categories, but perhaps it's an oversimplification--I see people who are either horrible or healthy tensions of the two). Those who give deeply, love deeply, truly invest in another human being seem much more saddened when the object of their affection just walks away from that love. Those who date for fun, excitement, new experiences (all very self satisfying and selfish) are less "other centered". They, perhaps, aren't entering the relationship to give to the point of sarificial love.

Sometimes, a person feels weak and foolish when they don't "move on" emotionally from the loss of love. In recent days, however, I see those who allow themselves to linger in the loss (as long as it doesn't distract them from a general sense of joy and healthiness) as brave and strong. They face the storm. They weather it. They take the pain into their bosoms. They make themselves vulnerable, and love cannot begin unless sincere vulnerability is at the foundation.

So if you hurt deeply after each loss (and you don't run and hide behind more and more casual flings), bless God that your soul is healthy and alive enough to still LOVE! Blessed are those who hurt deeply after losing love...coulda been another Beatitude in Matthew 5.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Back, Black and Bustin' Windows Out of Cars

I am disappointed--but not suprised--that I have not written in months; I blame it on my career. Most teachers are consumed by our work (which is why we only have other teacher friends; other people get tired of hearing about George* , the junior who won't get his act straight, and who becomes my default conversation after talk about love, life, and family), and most of us, find it hard to do much outside of the school day. Add community and church work, good friends, grocery shopping, meal prep, and running/working out, there's time for little else. But I am committing to picking back up the instruments, designing clothing and leather stuff...teaching will not be the END OF ME!

Recently, I've been inspired to pick the "pen" (bka, QWERTY and keyboard) back up as I field discussions about love, heartbreak, almost daily (mostly through texts and regularly over coffee). I recently posted something on Facebook about women not settling for less and I had about 100 responses--amazing women (and men) are wanting to talk about love, dating, heartbreak, the "field"--and wanting to make sense of it all.

Lots has happened in my personal life since my last entry. I have a new pug--Chico Childress. He's so ugly, he's cute, and my friends allow him to get away with a lot out of sympathy for his horrible sinus issues and bad teeth.

I also am in an exclusive dating relationship. People ask how the 30 dates ended, and I guess I just never provided error analysis and conclusions (I'm a science teacher) with that whole social experiment. What people really want to know is if I'm dating someone. I am, actually. A result of the 30datesin30days? Kinda. I've known him for years, but I think the experiment may have been the catalyst. Am I gonna talk about him now? Nope. I'm generally quite private about a relationship, so, sorry. Not now. I can say that he's an amazing human being. His parents did a really good job in raising a really solid man, and people tell me he's HOT and has a great voice. One male friend called him "eye candy"--now I'm looking at that male friend out the corner of my eye.

The goodness of this man and conversations with my many friends about chronic singleness, disappointment, heartbreak, and anger as the result of abandonment, cheating, dishonesty, disrespect, and general immaturity inspired today's post. I had a stream of thoughts under the shower head as I belted out Jazzmine Sullivan's 10 seconds.

I realized a couple of things: 1) I REALLY love and see myself as part of the community of "gritty", raspy voiced, REAL R & B songstresses like Lauryn Hill, Mary J. Blige, and Jazzmine Sullivan (I guess Alicia Keys too but I'm still kinda mad at her) and 2) Black women love hard. (caveat: I recognize that women from other racial and cultural groups can love "hard" too--shout out to my girl Nicki who definitely has an honorary "sistah" card and some strong Latinas and Asians--my girl who will remain nameless as she has violent tendencies because of her fierce love) I am, however, going to talk exclusively about Black women in this post because we're the subgroup with the REPUTATION FOR BEING CRAZY.

I have concluded that black women are a "NOBLE CRAZY"--the result of loving "HARD". We are loyal as ISH--I mean loyal to the point of going to jail for our men. Our craziness is the result of trauma after trauma after trauma--making it through poverty, immigration (shout out to those of us from the Caribbean and the Continent, South and Central American diaspora), watching our "should be" lovers and husbands lost to violence, the streets, mental illness, drug abuse, etc, being seen as "less than beautiful" (we're only pretty if we're light skinned and don't have kinky, short hair), "making it" with degrees only to "educate ourselves out" of partners/husbands (because they didn't make it as far) and to have to deal with the subtle racism of co-workers who wonder WHY and HOW we made it. The list of traumas can go on--I haven't even touched the emotional, physical and mental abuse and trauma that is the result of the racial trauma we've experienced as a group in America. So, yes, we love hard as a result of the trauma. Our strength in prayers, the "attitude", the "fight" in us has kept our families going. And because we give SO incredibly much (often being the one who keeps the family together because of our men's debilitation), we get P I S S E D and BEYOND P I S S E D when we feel our love is disrespected, devalued, underappreciated, taken advantage of.

People label us as "crazy"--crazy enough to do what Jazzmine Sullivan confesses: "I bust the windows out your car...and though it did not mend my broken heart....". They say we have attitudes, but this crazy, attitudinal, boldness is just the result and summation of our fierce loyalty and love. TOO MUCH IS ALWAYS AT STAKE FOR THE BLACK WOMAN, AND STUFF IS ALWAYS AT RISK, so we just don't play...and many of us are perpetually at the "breaking point"--especially if we are "successful" (due to the isolation). We don't like disingenous people (and will call you out in a public meeting if we have to), we don't like "talk behind our backs" (be a woman and talk to me "face to face"), we don't like being deceived. We've already been through too much.

What I realized this morning is that beneath this "crazy", "hard" love, is the softest, kindest, most compassionate tenderness and love. We are all nurses. We nurse the wounded in our communties. We may cut you with our tongues, but that's just because we so passionately care (and have been wounded so much). I thought about Carmen this morning. Carmen actually rolled her eyes at me and cut me with some sharp remark when we first met at Corkery Elementary in Little Village. She had the classic black woman crazy attitude. Over the years, though, Carmen has become a close sister. At 5:30 this morning (Saturday), we were up talking about our students. She told me about a student who is living in a house with no electricity or gas (and it's January in Chicago). The boy was crying in class, literally crying. "My hands are just so cold." She took him in her office and rubbed lotion and warmth in his hands, while she softly said, "Aw, baby, is this better, buddha duddha, suga'" (My granddaddy used to make up words like this too). How many professional people would be so personal? This is how we love, though. DEEPLY. Our love is life and death to us. When you trod upon it, you're asking for a fight...or maybe to have the windows bust out your car. (though none of my biological sisters, my close friends, or I would ever let a man get under our skin enough to lose our couth and self control at this level).

Black women love hard. We just do. (of course there are exceptions, especially for those of us who have lost our dignity and agree to share men, to live as "bust downs", hoes, "chicken heads", etc). While our irreverent hair, the curves in our lips and hips, and sassy come backs are very tempting and attractive, only the mature and respectful man should dare approach. So if you are on some macho B.S. (we do like swag and strength--very different from "macho" though), a player, disrespectful, dumb acting donkey, don't even consider it. You may get the right one on the wrong day and be going to Aaron's Glass Repair on Archer...