The Fashion Plate Magazine explores Love & Intimacy this month.
The articles this month will lean heavily on my experience as a single woman. I decided to go this route instead of something more romantic because single people are often negatively perceived for not committing to a relationship and I believe that self-love and self-acceptance are things singles and couples share. So for the month of February we will look at self-love, intimacy, heartbreak and self-acceptance. These four components are critical to living a full life whether you are single or in a couple.
My story as a single woman is not a common one, I don’t believe. In my 20s I was engaged a number of times but I never married. When I was 31 I met the love of my life, it was the first time I could honestly see spending the rest of my life with someone (unlike those other times I was engaged apparently). To me he was everything I imagined a mate should be, but he didn’t feel the same way and he ended it. The pain I experienced at the loss of that relationship was devastating.
I mourned a long time. I remember my Uncle Kyle found me moping, again, and asked me, “why would you want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you?”. The question made me pause and I realized I didn’t want to be with someone who didn’t want to be with me because I love myself more. It was my first step at recognizing self-love and self-acceptance.
I picked myself up and I decided to move forward. I reached out to my father whom I hadn’t spoken to for years, I took courses in writing and poetry, I joined book clubs and I learned to swim. In doing these things I had an opportunity to spend time adjusting to life without him and I realized I was going to be ok. I also learned something about myself, I felt a need to get married, not because I wanted to, but, because it was expected of me. It was then I decided that being single was better than rushing to create a life with someone who wasn’t right for me.
Time has gone by and I am still single and I’ve come to accept I may never find someone to share my life with. And while that scares me, a lot, I’m actually more afraid of becoming complicit in my single-hood. I’m single but my life is full of events, friends, travel and fun. Sometimes the days go by so fast and then, every once in while, I miss intimacy. I have a great bond with my friends but it is different with a partner- and as a single person I have learned to be more self-efficient and introspective, but nothing can replace intimacy.
Intimacy is not something you can have alone. It is a sharing of yourself with someone else and them sharing themselves with you. There are different forms of intimacy but they all require being vulnerable. You must be open to people and allow them to thread their way into your world. And while that can be uncomfortable at times, opening your world to others, the benefits are enormous. It can lead you to be your best self and help someone do the same. A common block to intimacy between two people is heartbreak. It can make you close yourself to intimacy and try to replace it with superficial versions, but it will never be enough.
Love, heartbreak, intimacy and self-acceptance are the topics we explore this month. I hope you find them enlightening.
And it’s also Black History month! Black history is a large part of my self-identity. As a black woman, a descendant of American slaves and the product of a family of entrepreneurs, culture-shapers and activists, I am a very strong character. I’ve been encouraged to be unapologetically black. And I was raised to be proud of the rise of black people in America.
I love following the lives of black people around the world who are rising despite negative sentiment by non-black people. I am happy to see black people encourage each other to love who we are as we are, write our own stories, develop awards to recognize our greatness, highlight our contributions to world history and shape our future and that of society.
Black people loving themselves is the key to having a positive relationship with non-black people. And our positive portrayal of ourselves and sharing it with non-black people is a form of education and awareness. It is also the key to success for a positive future between black people and non-black people.
For us to truly have a more intimate relationship with non-black people we will have to share our fears and desires and our insecurities. We will then see that we are not different. As my mother always says, there is only one race, the human race.
At this moment black people are in the midst of heartbreak as our country’s leader, whose job it is to protect us and help us to grow, disparages black people in America and in the world. But we will have to channel those emotions into something more productive until we find a leader that is a better fit.
What is important is that we don’t lose the connection with non-black people and that we all continue to work together.