I felt it slide out of my heart and pool around my ankles like lymph. It left my left ventricle so dehydrated it cracked like a ghost apple, and set off a series of pain episodes that welled up in my chest, gave me indigestion and muscles spasms. I got quiet. And over that next 365 days, I felt it creep back in and then fade. I felt free and bound. I smiled and wept intermittently. Where do broken hearts go? They just sit there and snag on shit, pulling at its surround until it unravels like an old sweater.
But it doesn’t stay that way. It starts to heal.
By day 366, it all flooded back, and nourished my barren parts. Running through my capillaries and veins like water rushing the insides of the Summit Plummet. Suddenly, it registered.
My love is not sometimes. It is all the time.
My love is sweet and savory, bitter and sweet.
It is for the thirsty and the hungry.
My love is confident, but shy and introverted.
It makes your acquaintance, yet doesn’t easily make friends.
It compromises it doesn’t sacrifice, waters not burns.
My love has a heartbeat and a break beat.
My love doesn’t brag or boast but it hustles hard.
It doesn’t lie, cheat, or steal joy. It brings peace and comfort.
It’s solid, thick, and strong. It’s graceful, feminine, and pretty.
My love is not for demons, nor for angels, but for imperfect humans doing their best by it.
It avenges wrong like the lovechild of Osirus and Isis, cuz it rides, but will go into hiding like the Ibeyi, cuz it refuses to die.
It’s the marriage of Honor and Loyalty.
My love is not a punk, it’s gangsta as fuck, and it takes no shorts.
They say enlightenment is the embodiment of understanding. It is the Pythagorean theory of knowledge plus the Fibonnaci sequence of wisdom. It’s the height of human presence, and it is powered, like fuel, by love. So in order to reach enlightenment, we must love and be loved properly. And while most of my family and friends abide; my experiences of romantic love haven’t always left me in a state of well-being. I have, not dismissing my own actions, had great highs but very low lows in relationship with men. While I can acknowledge allowing myself to stay in situations in which I knew I was settling in some way or another, I didn’t start out that way with anyone. I love hard and work at partnership even harder, but I can admit I have not always been involved with men who put in that same effort. And far too many times, they wanted this traditional, man as the head, when they weren’t even prepared to stand the relationship up on its feet.
Loving Black men, if I am honest, can be very difficult. They have, since the beginning of our time here in America, been pulled away from their rightful place with their families in order to toil for White slave masters. That morphed into being free men who were frozen out of the ability to become financially successful, then imprisoned men who had tried to recognize the fallacy of the American Dream, by any means necessary, but got caught in a system of oppression they would never escape. Now, many of them, having had some financial success seek power on White male patriarchal terms that don’t include them, but have at its heart very pathological ways of looking at and conceptualizing the role and worth of women. It’s not a system made for us, but made specifically to marginalize us. So as a unit, Black men and women are just further pushed apart.
We mimic what we see. When we don’t have an example, we mimic what we hear. I’m a child of hip hop, and hip hop taught us that “life ain’t nothing but bitches and money.” So young men without fathers or grandfathers who adored their wives, listened to their Uncle Slim with the conk, who was a really bad part time pimp talk, about his many hoes. He went home and listened to his brother’s Too Short tape talking about some girl sucking on his balls… pause. Little did we know as young ladies that we’d embark upon relationships, marriages, pregnancies, children, mortgages, baby mamas, layoffs, death, and divorce with these men who couldn’t even process emotion. Men who knew sex but weren’t bedfellows with intimacy. Men who had lost their virginity to the old nasty broad in the neighborhood who preyed on young boys. Men who knew lust but not love. They’d never seen it.
This isn’t about the Kinsey report or some theory that justifies why Black homes were broken and single women lead households ruined the community. Those types of tropes don’t really explain that so many of us, Black women that is, want marriage and commitment. White supremacist narratives of Black life only further the racist systems put in place to protect White wealth. They aren’t deep dives but shallow stereotypes. Black women valuing education and wealth , having bad attitudes, and not knowing how to cook don’t explain it either, because we just are not that simple as a collective. The gut wrenching truth is that Black people have been raped and traumatized by racism. Our men had to watch us disappear into the house after his long day on the field, to be defiled, him unable to do anything. We had to watch our men’s back cracked open and hearts shut down in order to survive in the living hell of oppression. Today, we are sometimes forced to watch, with a swipe of our finger, the ultraviolence that passes by our propped open eyes of our own children, sisters, brothers, mothers, and fathers dying on the pavement. We still are fighting to climb and being denied entry and access. In survival there is little room for love.
Even our ancestral gods and goddesses have struggled to love one another. Oshun, the Yoruba goddess of love, was in love with the headstrong King Shango, the god of thunder. Shango’s wife, Oya, was treasonous, so Oshun seduced Shango and bore two children by him, the Ibeyi. Oya imprisoned Shango, so he and Oshun could never be together, and Oshun’s children were captured, leaving her alone. Osirus, the god of life and death, was married to his sister, Isis, the goddess of fertility. Osiris and his brother Seth were at odds, and Seth killed Osiris and scattered his body parts around Egypt. Isis, desperately wanting a son, collected his body and procreated with it, bearing a son Horus who avenged his father’s death. Even the gods were crazy in love, and these mythological stories inspired our ancestors. We are built to love despite the trauma. We flourish in relationship. We succeed in community with one another. That is our nature, not this individual game that white supremacy would have us play. We can’t find our way to one another because we are blinded by ways that are not our own. Trying to fit a square peg into round hole. Instead, we have to love out of compromise not sacrifice. We have to water, not burn each other like wildfires, in order to grow. We have to command the sea and the thunder, life and the afterlife, and remember we are gods made in Gods image. We are gods. We give more than we take. We listen more than we speak. We love… never hate. That is our superpower. Love heals a thousand hurts. Our love can heal our trauma. It is written.