I often find myself revisiting this line from Warsan Shire, “My alone feels so good, i'll only have you if you're sweeter than my solitude”. It rolls around in my mind and is often the first advice that comes to me when friends are in relationships that feel unsavory. It is also the first advice I give myself when I find my emotions tangled up with a man who is devouring my sweetness and offering little in return.
For most of my life, I felt as though I didn’t really fit in my own skin. I was unsure of who I was, who I wanted to be, and how to follow this uncertain path with so little to hold on to or to guide me. I developed a habit of falling for men who kept me satiated enough that some of my emptiness was negligible. But, I allowed these same men to keep me pushed far enough to the side that I was always having to work hard for the crumbs that were thrown my way. I fell into these haphazard relationships repeatedly - often for years at a time. And through it, my self worth and joy took a beating. I lost my sweetness. No matter how hard I tried to please these men, I found myself coming up short. No matter how hard I tried to push myself into the “cool girl” mold, I kept finding that I did not fit.
It’s incredible to me that the simple act of turning my focus inward could be so life changing. As women we are conditioned to serve everyone around us, even to our own detriment. We’re told that if a man likes us, even a little, that we should accept it. We’re told to get married and make new people. We’re told that our sexuality is dirty until we’re married when we’re told that we need to be pleasing our man on his schedule. We’re told that we should stand by our man when he steps out on us. We’re told that living alone is dangerous; that traveling alone is dangerous. We’re shown that going to the fucking grocery store alone can be dangerous. So, we are pushed to find someone to protect us from this danger. Society wants us to find someone that is “good enough” to keep us safe.
But the problem is that when women settle into their own power, we become the dangerous ones. A woman with purpose is incredibly fucking dangerous. A woman who is comfortable in her own skin is dangerous. A woman who delicately extends her well-manicured middle fingers to the men who are giving them crumbs, is the most dangerous of all. Once I learned who I was, where my boundaries were, and what I valued - I became dangerous, too. Rather than evaluating new romantic options through the lens of fear, uncertainty, and desperation, I began to approach them with a sharp clarity.
My new decision making filter goes something like this:
Will you bring me joy?
Will my life be better for having had this experience with you?
Is the potential joy of spending time with you enough to outweigh the potential sorrow?
Are the things we do together in alignment with my values?
Are our interactions respectful of my boundaries?
As I continue to strengthen this filter, I find that my once very broken heart isn’t actually broken anymore. When I hit a wall with the men in my life and find that our togetherness that no longer honors my values or boundaries, I show these men the door. I don’t do regrets anymore. I won’t settle for crumbs. My solitude is incredibly sweet. You can either enrich that or you can get the fuck out of my way.