You know that feeling you get when you’re walking down the road, dressed in your shirt and tie (or skinnies , sneakers and throwback cap) and you feel you’re being stared at by a bunch of men who are just seething at the gall you have to dare to be yourself in their presence.
You know that feeling of irritation (maybe even fear) and indignation you get if say, one of them yells something obscene at you as you walk by? When they make snide comments to one another well within earshot?
Now, think about the counter-balancing feeling you get when, say, as you walk past this seething pack of misogynist wolves your mind wanders back to your apartment where your delectable boo lays beneath ruffled sheets after a night of sweet passion from you?
Or the feeling you get when your cell-phone buzzes in your back pocket and it turns out to be a text from the boo telling you she misses you and enticing you to “get back here…quick.” You feel it right?
The slow calm that comes over you in the midst of the homophobic drama as you think about how -in this world full of so much hate- you’ve managed to secure a sanctuary of love and comfort and bliss. Ah, sweetness… But what happens when you walk past that hateful bunch of mofos and you don’t have a sweet memory of last night to fall back on?
What happens to those whose phones remain still in their back pockets and there’s nothing there to filter out the hate? Yeah, I’m talking to you, my fellow singletons. And let me just draw away from the homophobes in the street scenario (just a ruse to get your attention really) and speak about the general sweetness of being in a relationship in contrast to the dreary existence of the single and lonely.
Now more than just a source of comfort in the midst of trying times, romantic relationships seem to offer a lot of studs/bois/doms/femmes/people in general a surge of confidence they wouldn’t normally have. You feel a whole lot better about yourself when you’ve managed to snag just the right girl/partner/lover. All of your strengths are magnified, amplified and celebrated. You can do no wrong. And even when you do; you still somehow manage to retain the loyalty and affection of your better half. The world is a much easier plain to navigate. Your biggest adversaries seem like child’s play when you have a lover by your side. You feel sexy. You feel smart. You feel funny. You feel good-looking and approachable. Lovable. Wanted. Needed. Worthy. ALIVE.
And yet, once you’re single; ALL of that falls away. Sure for the first couple of nights post-break-up your good friends rally around you and you’re able to get lost in party after party, in event after event. Alcohol and fun manage to keep your mind off of your waning sense of self worth. But the moment you get home and face that empty apartment and cold bed. Everything. Falls. Apart. You suddenly don’t feel so confident anymore. You forget why anyone would want to be with you in the first place. You don’t feel like you can do no wrong. In fact you feel all wrong. Your weaknesses and faults suddenly come into sharp focus. You lose sight of anything you may have achieved so far. No matter how great. You feel like the world is about to swallow you up whole. And you suddenly realize how susceptible to failure, hurt and pain you really are. Say a quiet “amen” if you feel me on this one. If not; you’re a damn lucky SOB and I’m not here for you (kidding’ I’m glad you’re strong and happy, boo).
On the real though. These feelings of despondency are exacerbated if you also happen to be a minority in society. Particularly a queer minority. Even more particular; a queer person of color. And one who isn’t famous, at that. One who is out and proud about your shit and doesn’t necessarily have the socio-economical security or political back-up for it to be easy to be out &proud. For so many queer folk of color our romantic relationships are our primary source of solace, love, affection, gentleness or nurturing.
We rely on our lovers for healing whenever we are hurt in the harsh outside world (whether in the work place due to discrimination; in public due to ignorance or even when our blood-families reject us because of our identity). Outside of our friendships; our love and/ or romantic and sexual relationships are our only sanctuary from the rest of the world. And without them, well…we sort of feel like we have nothing.
Now being that I happen to be the sort of queer womyn of color who was never single for longer than a month since I started dating; I know first hand how hellish being single can be. And it is something I have recently had to combat and analyze deeply after deciding to remain single after nine months of the above-described hell.
I suddenly realized that I had no way of defining/describing myself as a queer person of color outside of the context of a relationship. I.e I would assign certain labels/characteristics/attributes to myself depending on the identity of the person I happened to be involved with at the time. I only ever saw my worth through the eyes of a lover. And when that lover happened to stray, cheat or leave for whatever reason, I would only look for another. And this pattern had been a norm for me until I was neck-deep in baggage from having 5-7 heartbreaks too many.
I became disillusioned with the idea of “true love” and completely lost sight of whatever worth I thought I had. I became incredibly pissed at the shallowness of the queer folk around me. People always leaving me for someone who was prettier/femmier/studdier/smarter/funnier etc. I vowed never to fall in love again and to learn how to rely on myself to develop a sense of self worth and strength as a queer person of color in a world that is mostly anti-queer people of color. And I guess the very last part of the latter became the only ray of light in my rather bleak disposition.
I guess it was sort of a blessing for me to go through the many “failed” relationships I went through and subsequently to begin to navigate the rather scary world of being queer and single. I now don’t believe in failed relationships anymore; I believe that people come into our lives to teach us something about ourselves It forced to me to start learning how to define who I was by my own terms. It forced me to learn how to show myself the loving and nurturing I thought I could only receive from a lover. It forced me to learn how to be proud and fearless in the face of discrimination and adversity.
How strange is it that I had the beautiful revelation that I am well on my way to becoming a stud-loving-stud while single? How strange is it that I have discovered the wonders of self-acceptance/appreciation/admiration and self-respect from assessing the ways I’d been treated before and vowing to treat myself a whole lot better? And how magnificently odd is it that I have learned to be fiercely proud of my identity in spite of the increasing discrimination I face for looking more and more like my true self and being more and more brash about my reality?
It may all seem unbelievable but being single has broken me open and forced me to learn so much about myself that I can confidently say that I no longer fear it or see it as a hellish kind of living. Don’t get me wrong though; I still believe in the necessity of the sweetness of love and companionship. And strangely enough I am a lot more optimistic about love now that I have had some time to learn to positively adore myself. So to all those folks who are currently reeling from heartache or going grey from the stress of loneliness; single and jaded though ye may be you are still beautiful in so many ways and I suggest you take this time out (from the Game) to learn to embrace, nurture and appreciate that.