Love's Gonna Get Cha: Commentary on Sistas, LOVE, 'n' Other Stuff
by Jamal Sharif
People call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute. - Rebecca West
The TimBookTu discussion board has been jumpin' lately; especially in the area of love and relationships. More than a few postings have been made by sistas who are understandably doing their best to avoid a broken heart in their current love relationship. This really got me thinking on the reasons why, we as sistas, often find ourselves drowning in the deep end of the "love" pool.
For starters, it's a known fact that women possess distinctive traits and characteristics which are normal outgrowths of our God-given nature. Meaning, our emotional perceptiveness, as well as our tendency to love, comfort, nurture, sacrifice, and shop (okay, I threw that in) are all innate components of our being. It really is a "female thing." This female "trait," in and of itself, is positive, normal, and natural. It's all good, right?
Right. But here's the catch.
The same qualities that make us wonderfully, inherently female, are the SAME qualities that get us into big time relationship trouble. Stay with me.
This means, we have the TENDENCY to love, nurture, comfort, and sacrifice -- even when it's not wise (or in our best interest) to do so. We are known to remain stagnant in damaging, unfulfilling, undesirable, and straight out TIRED situations, for years and lifetimes. Some folks swear it's in a woman's "nature" to abandon most forms of reality and common sense when it comes to "being in love." I'd argue that it's due to a combination of things; the most obvious is getting trapped in the "But-I-Love-Him- Though" syndrome:
-'He slept with my sister, and my best friend, while I worked two jobs, so he could attend medical school; but I love him though.'
-'He spent the baby's milk money on a dime bag of chronic; but I love him though.'
-'He introduced my face to his fist, then shoved me down two flights of stairs when I accidentally spoke during the Laker game; but I looovvve him, though.'
-'He's unsupportive, unmotivated, unemployed, and we don't have much in common; BUTILOVEHIMTHOUGH.'
It's easy to see how this loving, nurturing, and sacrificing thing can backfire on a sista. We've got the right idea, but sometimes, we take it to another level. We get kinda crazy with it. Believe me, my female "tendencies" have gotten me into more trouble than I'd ever admit under oath in a court of law.
Of course, the "But I Love Him Though" syndrome does not operate alone. It gets help from the "I-Just-Gotta-Have-A-Man, Any-Man-Will-Do" syndrome, the "I-Just- Don't-Want-To-Be-Alone" syndrome, the "I-Can-Change-Him" syndrome, and the "I- Don't-Think-I'm-Good-Enough, So-I'll-Take-Whatever-I-Can-Get" syndrome. The symptoms of these syndromes include, (but are not limited to): Continually finding yourself stood-up, beat-up, disappointed, disrespected, dejected, depressed, dismissed, kicked to the curb, unhappy, insecure, unstable, and psychotic as the result of being "in love" or in relationships.
Sound familiar? Well, my beautiful, intelligent sistas - there is a cure. It's called the "Get-Into-Yourself, Know-Yourself, Appreciate-Yourself, Love-Yourself" Program; and it works. It really, reallly works.
Know why? Because this program teaches that you cannot love anyone, until you have completely and totally learned to love yourself, FIRST. You cannot expect someone to want, love, and cherish you, if you don't even want, love, and cherish yourself.
It sounds cliché-ish; I know. That's exactly what I thought, when I was busy ignoring the first person who tried to explain it to me.
See, when you love yourself -- you know that you are worthy and important. You care what happens to you. You don't allow yourself to be treated any old kind of way. You would rather be WITH YOURSELF, than be with someone who is not GOOD or COMPATIBLE for YOU.
Think about it. If YOU don't like being with YOU, spending time with YOU, listening to YOU, respecting YOU, and wanting the best for YOU -- how in the world can anyone else do more for YOU, than YOU are willing to do for YOURSELF?
The self-love program is difficult for sistas, because we are socialized to put others opinions, needs, desires, and whims before our own. It's particularly difficult because the "nature" of being a woman, has the TENDENCY to work against us. We have to put forth a great effort to "unlearn" the behaviors that get us into the most trouble. Which means, we have to constantly evaluate the situations around us, and keep ourselves in check. We have to become wiser in deciding when it's best for us to share ourselves with someone, and when it's not. We have to choose WHO and WHAT we want in our lives, instead of casually accepting whoever and whatever shows up.
This isn't to suggest that we don't want and love the brothas, or that we should not be open to positive, enriching, fulfilling interactions with them.
BUT! In order to attract quality in your mate, YOU have to BE QUALITY. If you desire a partner who's about somethin' and who's got it goin' on -- then YOU have to be about somethin' and have YOUR stuff goin' on'!
After you begin this program, you will discover that you won't feel so inclined to throw yourself on top of every brother that wanders into your path; just because he's tall, or speaks in full sentences, or has a nice car, or all his teeth. You'll learn the importance of taking it slow and not rushing into things, while you're deciding if he's right for YOU. I've found that it takes at least a few months to figure out if that energetic, well-dressed, talkative brotha is a viable option; or just an insecure, rambling psychopath in a nice suit.
A fair warning, though. Once you get into the program, and start gettin' kinda cool on yourself, people will start to notice a calm, peaceful, focused presence about you. And some guys - well, they just don't know what to think. They'll soon realize that they kinda liked that shaky, uncertain, dramatic, half-way deranged chick; and they'll demand to know where she went. They might not take kindly to this new, improved, self-lovin' you at all. They may even refuse to deal with you until the "old" you comes back. Or, they might get a touch of the "Who-She-Think-She-Is?" syndrome, and call you stuck up, cold, stingy, uppity, selfish, or confused. Pay them no never mind. Just know in your heart, that in order to get ready for the ultimate love affair, you've got to first perfect the one you're having with yourself, first! A wise woman once said: "It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere."