Thursday, July 18, 2013

Single.

"and so I sit at home and just pretend/love is not for me..."--Tamia


Recently, a friend's friend suggested that I see a "Christian" documentary by the name of Soulmate.

Okay.

Now, let me preface what I'm about to say about this film with the fact that it's presumptive and not based in fact, since I haven't watched the entire thing and refuse to do so. But as the friend's friend raved about it as a ministry for single women, I was simultaneously curious and incredulous. For my part, I'm just not one to sign up for "single" things: singles' groups, singles' clubs, singles' parties, singles' events, stampeding to the dance floor when "Single Ladies" comes on like somebody rang the dinner bell in an 19th century orphanage--it's all a bit ridiculous to me. I have never thought of myself as a "single" person. I'm Ms. Brown and one day I'll be Mrs. Brown-____________. "Single" connotes something I don't see as my truth: that I’m not whole somehow, or less than. It's not that the actual word says that; it's what society has attributed to the word that I don't receive. I'm not "single" because I'm not a part of that community of people who revel in the ability to whine about being alone. I'm just a young woman--a whole person-- who is not yet married.

In any case, out of curiosity and at the bidding of the friend, I watched the trailer for the documentary. And afterwards, I had to rebuke what I saw in the name of Jesus. First of all, the trailer opens on the statistic that 47% of Black women are unmarried, which is the first of several major downers in the three minute piece. What about the fact that 53% are married? Glass half empty much? Then come the interviews. [Paraphrasing]: "I'm 52, I've never been married and have no children." "I'm 47 and people ask me if I even want a man because it seems like I'm having so much fun without one!" "My husband contracted HIV in a homosexual relationship and gave it to me."

None of this was sounding particularly sexy.

It's not that the information isn't valid. And not that I begrudge anyone somewhere to go to feel a part of a community and to get a better understanding of their circumstances as they see them. But as for me and my house...nuh-uh.

Bottom line: I refuse to commiserate with sad, lonely people. All that does is create an atmosphere for that loneliness to metastasize and fester, mildew into depression, and effectively block blessings because one is too downtrodden to see the light from the dark place they've fallen into. This might not be true for everyone, but it's my view of the vast industry that caters to "singles", "singles", of course, connoting 'people who would rather be married but just haven't gotten lucky yet'.

I would much rather focus on being joyful about where I am now and celebrating where I know I'm headed--and one place I'm fairly sure I'm not headed, by the grace of God, is 52, childless, and unmarried. Not that I'm better than that or above those circumstances, but it's just not what I feel is the promise over my life. I think it takes understanding what God is doing in your life before you get to the point of desperation, the point when watching a documentary about menopausal women who've always lived alone seems like a good idea.

No one is saying that procuring that level of wisdom is easy, but the fact is that it's more than likely that a huge portion of women are missing the point. I don't believe that 47% of these women are meant to be alone; I just don't buy it. And the changing of this dramatic statistic takes the changing of a mentality of a bloc of women that have become mired in their marital situation, or lack thereof. For instance:


  •  Black men aren't the only men on earth. Not saying I don't want one myself- -God knows I do (*Color Purple Sophia voice*) --but if that wasn't my destiny, I'd have to find a way to live with it. I know; I hate to hear it, too, because frankly I feel like I'm entitled. But no one can deny that joy and pleasure can come in many colors.

  • We need to start thinking about these things at a younger age. Too many women put their entire focus on their career (believe me, I'm way guilty too) and make their whole young adult life about status and professional advancement and then want to put the rush on the husband search when the snooze button on their biological alarm is on its last ring. We need to be more focused on family building and partnership potential when we're younger. Of course, that means less promiscuity and more wisdom in dating when you're young, which is an entirely new conversation, and one I'm not willing to engage since that clearly wasn't my mindset when I was younger.

  • Coupled with the idea of a new mindset is the subject of choices. When I was a little girl, my father used to tell me that too many women date married and/or totally unsuitable men for 10, 15, 20 years, and then end up alone and past childbearing years. Yes, he really told me this as a child. I'm grateful now for his mildly inappropriate conversation with me, because I see what he meant--simply that we are often the sum of our choices in the area of partnership. Dating married men or waiting for men who are simply ridiculous for a myriad of professional, criminal, cultural, spiritual and plain practical reasons has to stop. We can't hitch our wagon to losers for decades and then think that dreams will come true the minute we step to the side of right. Some men just don't deserve a chance, and desperation isn't going to help any girl's cause. We need to be looking at the big picture with everyone we date if we intend to be partnered. "I'm just having fun right now" can easily turn into 52, childless, and alone--or worse, 42, divorced, and alone. Last year, when I was trying to decide if I was going to break up with someone I'd been dating for a month who was certain I was his wife, I called my father for advice because something didn't feel right. I told him my issues with the dude, the pros and cons, and my dad gave me the best advice. He said, "Just don't let him waste your time, babe. That's the only thing a man can take from you, is your time." We need to stop letting guys who aren't going to make the cut waste our time, energy, and resources. Every day they take is a day we're not in position to receive the good that's actually coming. We retard our own progress by filling up our time with the undesirable. Women know that trimming the ends of our hair is essential to growth; you hang on to an inch or two for "length" and pretty soon you're cutting off five inches of split ends. We should apply this lesson to our partnership search and cut the dead weight.


  • I'm the last person to jump on the bandwagon of that societal bottom-feeder mentality that attacks Black women for not being perfect as a group. It's disgusting how a lot of folks [Black dudes] say Black women are lazy, dumb, fat, ignorant, selfish, materialistic, willful, bossy, mean, don't want to go anywhere exotic, don't like to hike, scared to swim, don't want to kayak, have too many kids...and a lot of the other nasty things thrown around after being exposed to the delectable cultural delicacy that is your typical White or Asian woman (I mean, let's face it). Check it: I don't ever want to deny White, Asian, and/or White Latina women their positive cultural stereotypes (see Jay-Z's "Girls, Girls, Girls" for footnotes). But I reject negative classifications of Black women. Yes, there are plenty of dumb, morbidly obese, lazy, ignorant Black women just as there are plenty of dumb, morbidly obese, lazy, ignorant White women. [I left the Asians out because, to be honest, I've never seen a dumb, obese, lazy Asian; I just haven't. So sue me--but you probably haven't, either.] And, as most people with half a brain know, there are plenty of gorgeous, brilliant, adventurous Black women in all shapes, sizes, and colors, each bangin' in their own way, who are not partnered. Now admittedly, some of them are crazy (see name of site)--but that's another topic for another conversation. All this said, I implore Black women to take care of ourselves, live outside of the box, try different things, really live life. Big ups to Tyler P, but he is not a cinematic genius. Turks & Caicos and Barbados are lovely--and many thanks to LisaRaye and Rihanna for their respective tourism development efforts--but there are some islands on the continent of Asia that would make the entire Caribbean look like Jones Beach. Sit-ups are not a workout. Perhaps these are things about which those of us who know better should be spreading the word.



  • And last but not least, God is not your man and has zero desire to be your husband. It's everything to be in relationship with God, but know that He called us to partner. So for all the women who haven't had sex in 20 years or a date in 15 steady talking about "all I need is Jesus" but laying in bed every night watching Tyler Perry films, salivating over the strategically placed hot guys: It's pretty safe to say you're not living up to your potential.


  • Not that there aren't some things that need to be changed about the corresponding men as well, but I'm not going to get into that for two reasons: one, because we'd be here all night (you wanna talk about a soapbox…); and two, because I truly believe that women changing will force men to change. In fact, I think women changing is the only thing that will cause a change in men. Nearly everything men do is because of the 'power of the p-u…'(more Jay-Z; not sure what's wrong with me right now), and women need to re-learn to harness and leverage that power for good.

    I have several best friends: one lives here in Los Angeles, two in the NY Tri-State Area, one in the San Francisco Bay Area, one in the Washington, DC area, and a first cousin who's like a sister that lives in Pittsburgh. I've really loved two men in my life romantically, and been quite fond of a great many more. I live in a courtyard-style Melrose Place -esque Hollywood Hills apartment building with over 30 units and many friendly neighbors. I live in a city of millions. I have family all over the globe that loves me, and I love them. I have a father I adore in Texas, a dear stepmother, and not-so-little-brothers I can't live without. I have a mirror-image mother resting in peace that I carry in my heart everywhere I go. What I am is unmarried. But I'm far from single.



    So let it never once be said that I am "single". What I am is simply not married. Yet.

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