Taking a break from Motherhood Observation seemed like the only plausible option in the midst of a heartache I wasn’t willing to address or share and so I decided to work on other projects like, “The Teen Sex Trade: Part Two”. Then, last night, it hit me that this is what Motherhood Observation is all about. It is the art of being vulnerable, learning from my experiences, sharing, and writing through my pain.
My heart is aching and I’m not quite sure that I know how to make it make sense for unseeing eyes who’ve never felt a connection with another human being that goes beyond the flesh. This account is for the sliver of hope that someone, somewhere feels what I’m saying.
Real, down to Mars…¹
As soon as I had a moment’s rest at the airport while waiting for my flight, I knew that my desire to see him again would be insatiable. But, time was not on our side from the very beginning. I could drive to Toronto in the same amount of time it would take me to catch a flight back to him. Despite the distance, our connection remained strong. We talked every night for upwards of three, sometimes six hours but who’s counting? Here was this real down to Mars man whose spirit was recognized by my own. That recognition required little to no effort. The understanding was mutual, our feelings evident. The attraction was shy at first and then obvious even when we tried to contain it. He touched me without touching me, ya know?
The spark inevitably dwindled down, no matter how hard or often we tried to salvage it. We tried to settle for being friends, wanting so much to have each other, to remain close, to love. Still, there was too much energy and no where to put it and I couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t forget how safe I’d felt with this person who, in this lifetime, I’d only just met. How could I be “just friends” with this person who had the potential to hold space in my life with such magnitude? But, that’s the thing isn’t it? Potential doesn’t truly mean anything without actively pursuing the depths of it.
That realization is one that I’ve been unable to actively practice in prior years and it has led me into some very dark waters. Upon exploring abuse in one of my earlier posts, I came to an understanding of my hope for our respective relationships and that is “for each of us to recognize when we cannot be what the other person needs and to respect ourselves (and them) enough to walk away”. This is what this most recent relationship is calling me to do─ walk away. Not permanently per se but until I can get a grasp of how I feel and can walk through that journey going forward without feeling so confused about it. Some hurt has occurred on both sides of the story but to continue in this way would be a disservice not only to him but to myself. I have to remind myself that this isn’t something to apologize for but rather something to celebrate the growth of, even if it causes my heart to ache right now.
… People can only meet you as deeply as they’ve met themselves²
All the while that we were attempting a mutually respected friendship, I had an inkling that I was waiting for something. At first, I couldn’t name that feeling as it manifested itself into misunderstandings, particularly misconstrued emotions. It caused both of us to be frustrated in the wake of being unable to be in each other’s presence. Finally, after taking needed space from talking to each other, I was able to clear the smoke in my own brain. I’d been waiting for him to see my worth, particularly in the way that I needed it to be seen. It wasn’t that he didn’t see me as worthy, it’s that our viewpoints of our respective worth were different. I’m realizing now that that’s okay in the sense that it doesn’t have to mean we hate each other but it does mean that it is my responsibility to position myself around those whose viewpoints align with my own. If we don’t see each other in the ways we need to be seen, well, we’re not really seeing each other at all.
In past relationships, I’ve bled myself dry trying to get my partners to see me for who I feel I am. I’ve fought myself and them, tooth and nail, whether through subtle actions looking for acknowledgement, direct arguments voicing my feelings of being unappreciated, or by angrily removing myself from the relationship. The latter has led me to have disdain for certain people, romantically, platonically, and familially. I don’t want to continue my life in this way so now is the time to address and correct my decisions, while the love is still present.
The more I realize my worth, it becomes increasingly difficult to consistently and unapologetically name it. Moreso, it is also difficult to walk away from anything that doesn’t align with those ideals. As women and particularly mothers, we’ve been conditioned to consider everyone else’s feelings before and above our own. We are taught to apologize for feeling “too much” or “being extra”. I don’t want to apologize for it anymore, whether it’s someone asking me to or my conditioning and insecurities telling me I have to. It is my job to know my worth; how I feel is my responsibility. It’s not my job to convince anyone else to know or feel the same. It’s like that saying, “What others think of you is none of your business”. What is my business, however, is to stay true to my own merit. I deserve to be seen as I see myself.
I love you in a place where there’s no space in time³
I’m worth more than what I’ve been accepting in my life. That’s a hard pill to swallow because when you know better, you’re supposed to do better yet somehow I keep ending up trying to get people to see me for who I am and adjust themselves to fit my narrative. From my mother to men, I almost always have this underlying desire to be seen by someone─ not in the sense that I will settle for just anybody but in the sense that I know what I want so when I get a taste of that being in my reach, I become unfounded. I get caught up in a potential blessing when in the present moment, if I look at all a person is right then, it is often times not really what I want. Therefore, I hold resentment for them not being who I need them to be which is not their responsibility. In doing so, I’ve been assigning responsibility where it doesn’t belong. No one can do my job for me, despite the lengths I’ve gone through to do so and how much I’d be willing to do for them in return, with or without them asking. It’s not their job to be who I need them to be, it is their job to be themselves. It’s my responsibility to not only be who I need but to surround myself with those who already are who I need them to be.
And when I walked away, I left footsteps in the mud so you could follow me⁴
I’ve analyzed my connection to this real down to Mars man over and over, wondering where I went wrong. I tried to distract myself, busy with projects, running errands, and mom duty. I vented to my girls, attempted to call a truce on more than one occasion, and still it was like cranes in the sky (word to Solange!). All that’s left to do is what I should have done from the jump, write it out. As I write this, I realize more concretely, that I didn’t do anything wrong. The blame isn’t on either of us. The entirety of what we were attempting to be for each other was none other than us trying to maintain some semblance of being happy with not being with each other in the capacity that we both would have liked. That’s it. What changed was not our understanding of the dynamic but my inability to transition from unexplainable love to just friends. I don’t need to blame myself for that. I need to understand and accept that that’s the place I am in on my journey. I have every ability to mature into someone capable of distinguishing and separating romantic feelings from platonic friendships but I am not there yet. I respect that.
What hasn’t changed is all that I’ve learned in a short period of time. Amongst this newfound knowledge is me beginning to take control of my emotional impulsivity. I’ve been described as “emotionally charged” before and even though I hated the description, I couldn’t disagree. I’m known to spazz first and sort it out later. I’m trying hard to find balance in my emotions, starting with accepting my feelings as my responsibility. Without having this experience, I would have been starting this aspect of my journey much later, with someone potentially less accommodating. I am grateful to have sustained this lesson through someone who is not selfish for the wrong reasons. I am grateful to his daughter for being the primary source of his nobility. That’s love, unconditionally. When you love someone so much that your treatment of them blossoms to the treatment of others.
Unconditional love is a concept my heart is foreign to. Despite watching the way others seem to experience it, I don’t believe in it for myself. I’m able to conceptualize it through observation but I know that for myself, I always have a motivation behind my love, thus creating conditions.
Once the motivation is gone, the love seems to be gone. In understanding love as an action rather than a feeling, I’m not even entirely sure that I am capable of loving my children unconditionally. Taking space from a potential love has shown me that my motivation for loving has been somewhat selfish but that it doesn’t mean it has to be conditional. In both instances, in my parental or romantic reality, I understand now that I can maintain the feeling without practicing the action. Right now, I’m feeling without practicing. I saw something in him that I felt drawn to cultivate, hoping that when all was said and done, I would reap what I had sown. The problem with that is what if he never saw in himself what I see in him? Moreover, what if he did come to realize it and I still wasn’t the one he chose in the end? Where would that leave me? It’s unfair to either of us to steal today’s joy by focusing on the potential of tomorrow’s (joy) or the next day or the next.
In the past, I’ve exhausted myself with cultivating men still coming into their own while I so fiercely was already there and actively working on reaching higher, attempting to be their motivation to do the same. This time, I recognize that as it stands today, I want more than what is able to be given to me for whatever reason. In recognizing this, it’s my prerogative to see and understand my worth and move according to that knowledge. I don’t owe anyone an apology or explanation but I can extend one if I so choose. Ultimately, I have to do what I have to do. Only I can look in the mirror, say, “Mama, you’re worthy”, and believe it. It’s not enough for others to tell me if I don’t believe it. I have to believe it myself. Today, I believe it.
¹ Roses, Outkast
² Quote, Matt Kahn, author of “Whatever Arises, Love That”
³ Book of Soul, Ab-soul
⁴ Footsteps, Kehlani feat. Musiq Soulchild