Tag Archive | love

Learning to Love

“When you really take the energy to pay attention to your relationship. And really put your all into that relationship and love him in a way that your mama didn’t teach you how to love a man.… Sistas listen…treat him like a king if you want to be treated like a queen—it works. ”

 ~Monique (the comedienne) 

A few days ago, I watched Monique’s interview where she talked about a variety of topics including her dramatic weight loss, the cancellation of her late night talk show on BET, love and relationships etc. Her comment above is in response to the interviewers questions about her “open” marriage. The open relationship was her idea because she was constantly on the road, but it backfired when “she realized the king she had at home” and decided to preserve her marriage.

 The part that intrigued me the most is when she spoke about learning to love a man the way your mother didn’t teach you. It resonated with me because what I know about love didn’t necessarily come from my mother. She gave me advice on how to deal with men and carry myself around them, but there wasn’t anything in particular that I learned from her about how to love a man. Do parents have a responsibility to teach us how to love a man or woman?

I think parents do more modeling (observational) than teaching (intentional) when it pertains to love (or lack thereof). In many ways, what is modeled before us is inherently teaching us about love (both positive and negative). Sometimes there is a clear line of distinction. For instance, I do not look to my parents’ marriage as a healthy model for love (what they modeled). However, my expectations about how I am supposed to be treated by a man come from the standards that have been set by my father (what he taught me).

 I think it’s definitely possible to learn about the nature of love from your parents, but learning how to love a man or woman is unique to the individual. It requires navigating through relationships and realizing what works or doesn’t work. It means not viewing love through the lens of the broken relationships that abound in families. It means not looking to society’s distorted view of love as the standard. It requires some soul searching to discover the ways you experience love, and in turn, show love to others. All those factors combined with putting in the work and energy that Monique was referring to influences how you love a man or woman.

Disney Lied to Me: Why Love Isn’t Enough…

This entry was difficult to write but very cathartic at the same time. I hope you appreciate my transparency.

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‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

~Alfred Lord Tennyson

I wish that I could believe that love is enough. If so, I’d be married by now. Unfortunately, that’s not how things unfolded for us but I will always love him.

 We have a lot of history. I met him when I was 24 and he was 32. He is different – a little quirky. I like that. He is brilliant. I can be 100% myself with him – I don’t let my guard down for many people, but I know that I can say anything to him and feel comfortable.  I’m just amazed that we know each other so well. He recently told me that he needs to guard his heart with me because I change my mind sometimes. He knows I’m fickle and very indecisive. I know how he will respond in certain situations. It’s like we were made for each other.

 Things were going well for a while, but then I realized that the relationship was draining me because of circumstances that are out of his control (people who are close to me know what I’m talking about. I don’t feel the need to put his business out there like that). I stayed because I wanted to make it work. Then one day I woke up and realized that I couldn’t do it anymore – not because I didn’t love him, but because I saw a glimpse of my future with him and it was not what I envisioned for my life.

That didn’t stop me from going back to him a few times even though I always ended up with the same outcome. It’s not in the cards for us. It’s not fair, but it’s life. I still communicate with him. I try to be a friend to him because he doesn’t have many people in his life, but it’s complicated because we’re friends who love each other. I admit that our communication sometimes opens the door for my feelings to resurface.

I know I can’t go back. I know that is not those close to me would want for me. More importantly, I don’t think that is what I want for me. The important lesson that I gained from our doomed relationship is that love is simply not enough. Yes, I want love. I also want stability, a partnership, and security just to name a few things. I want to say I will never get back together with him but I don’t know what the future holds. I do know that a relationship is a not an option right now and I’m not waiting for that time to come. I’m fine with that. I have not idea what is going to happen but I definitely want God’s best for me.

 

A Mother’s Practical Love

Mothers love their sons and raise their daughters.”

I ’m not sure where this adage came from, but I certainly feel like there is some truth to it. I remember discussing this with my therapist as we explored the implications for the Black community. It seems that Black mothers tend to “baby” their sons and stress the importance of independence to their daughters. We discussed our various theories on why this is the case. We didn’t come to one root cause of this phenomenon, but we both agreed that males and females are socialized very differently in the Black community. 

In taking a step back from the land of generalization, I think about my upbringing. I can’t speak to the relationship my mother had with my half-brother, but we never had a loving relationship. We had good times but, in my opinion, there was no depth or unconditional love present in our mother/daughter relationship.

As I think back on my youth, I’m beginning to recognize that she showed her love differently than the traditional expressions of love that one expects (physical affection, listening, investing emotionally, etc.). My mother showed a more “practical love” that was defined by offering advice and showing me how to be an independent Black woman. I can’t be upset or expect something she wasn’t able to give me. I think realizing that she was unavailable to giving/receiving emotional love allowed me to let go of a lot of painful feelings.

SIDE NOTE:  I’m really grateful that my father was in the household because I’d seriously be an emotionally bankrupt person if he wasn’t there. 

Needless to say, I’m still working through my “mommy issues” and this continues to be a long healing process. However, I want to take a moment to celebrate the things she did right because I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if it wasn’t for her.

Here are some of the most valuable lessons I learned from her: 

Have your own bank account. My mother was all about her separate money. Of course, she paid bills with my father, but she did not believe in the co-mingling of money. Personally, I don’t mind having a joint account with my future husband, but I do plan on having another account for my personal use.

Appearance matters. My mother was a CLASS ACT. She dressed to impress all the time. I think that is why I enjoy dressing up so much. I just remember how much she stressed the importance of appearance.

Always clean up after yourself. “It’s nothing worse than a nasty woman” LOL. I remember my mother saying that to me all the time when I was younger as she “encouraged” me to clean up. Being clean was very important to her. To this day, I still very conscientious about cleaning up, especially when I’m a guest at somebody’s house.

Be mindful of how you engage with other women’s husbands/partners.. Sometimes women are quick to give you the side eye when relating to their significant others. I don’t give anybody a reason to think otherwise of my actions. I’ve learned a few things from her when interacting with married/taken men to ensure that it doesn’t even LOOK inappropriate.

Pay your bills and be responsible.  My mother was a stickler about paying bills and handling her business. Her credit score was always good and she kept extensive records/documentation about important matters. I am definitely the same way and I attribute it to her business-savvy nature.

Those are only a few of the MANY life lessons that I’ve learned from my mother. I’m thankful for her practical love and I definitely see the value in it. However, sometimes I just simply wanted a hug or an “I love you” – not a lesson. I hope (and pray) that when I’m a mother that I can provide both practical love and emotional love to my children, especially my daughter.