I watch way too much reality tv. It's addictive and usually corrosive, but believe it or not the snapshot glimpses into the lives of people I don't know and will probably never meet often inspire me to self-reflect.
Watching Tashera Simmons, the estranged wife of DMX, on VH1's Couple's Therapy made me rethink my entire approach to relationships. Tashera's distress over a man who has, during their marriage, fathered more children with other women than he has with her left me puzzled. How could she not see what seems so obvious? It's time to leave.
In a much less devastating fashion, I see that I've been Tashera. Or perhaps I still am. Put simply: I am attracted to men with problems. It's the Pisces in me. I want to nurture, and I want to fix. But I learned the hard way that love is healing only for those who wish to be restored.
Last Fall, I began a relationship with a man who would suck me dry if I allowed him. It began casually, and for him it stayed that way. To me it became something much deeper. Everything about him was wrong, but I thought I could adjust. Consequently, I spent more time defending our relationship than enjoying it.
His malice stung. He took every opportunity to hurt and offend, yet I found myself perpetually apologizing. He never did. Not once. Knowing his history and the childhood trauma he endured, I attempted to be his lover/therapist in the hope that I could coach him through it.
Relationships aren't built on hope and potential. During the several months we've been off and on, I feel like I've grown because I had to. (Traumatic experiences will do that to you.) He has not. His way may not be working for him, but he is completely and utterly invested in it.That type of entrenchment makes me anxious. It is my biggest fear. So I said goodbye, and hopefully this time will be the last.
I don't believe we're responsible for who we attract, but who we choose to pursue a relationship with is a reflection of how we see ourselves. Feeling worthy of an equal partnership doesn't come naturally to some of us. Certainly not for me. I can, however, feel the change slowly and surely. As I discover my private power, I'm no longer content with settling in any area of my life: not for a man, a job, or a friend.
Black American culture mythologizes the "ride or die" partner. The woman willing to give everything of themselves in order to ensure the success of her mate. But what do we, as women, reap from such devotion?
Not everyone deserves unwavering loyalty, and, in my opinion, no one is worth sacrificing your spirit. Liberation requires women release the Disney Princess mindset that "love conquers all." Sometimes love simply isn't enough.
Kimberly Foster is the Editor and Publisher of For Harriet. Email her at Kimberly@ForHarriet.com with comments or find her on Twitter.