I am at the halfway point of being eligible to file for my divorce.
In North Carolina, one must be separated for one year before seeking a divorce. During the first few months of my separation, I was determined to focus solely on myself and my children and deal with all the pain and disappointment I felt. I knew that jumping into another relationship, or dating, meant I would be bringing the garbage from my past with me. I would merely be using the relationship to mask the feelings I had to deal with if I wanted to heal fully.
During my healing process, I crossed paths with many great people, many of whom were single black women.
Being in a relationship for so long caused me to forget about the statistics related to dating Black in America. [According to an Upshot analysis, black women who are 25 to 54 and not in jail outnumber black men in that category by 1.5 million.] I was safe because I had the husband, kids, home, et cetera. Being out of a relationship reminded me that there are a lot of single black women, which completely scared the %*it out of me.
Knowing that my marriage is truly over, letting go of my anger towards him, and taking the time I needed to heal have led me to think about dating again. After all, I am human.
Yes, I am an independent woman. Yes, I can take care of myself. Yes, it is true, I don’t need a man.
But why would I want to spend the rest of my life without any “meaningful connection” to another human being? I am that person that cries every time I watch the movie, The Best Man Holiday because of the intense love between Morris Chestnut’s character and his wife. I truly believe if a person can create a fictional character like that, there must be some real examples of men that led to that creation. Sorry “big panty crew”, I still believe. LOL!
Honestly, I have no desire to wear the “independent, I don’t need a man” t-shirt. But, guess what? Neither do a lot of the other single, black women that exist.
In fact, many black women are forced into the “independent I can’t find a man” t-shirt.
Statistically speaking, the chances of finding that “meaningful connection” is significantly reduced for black women because there is just a shortage of black men. [Again, according to an Upshot analysis, for every 100 black women between the ages of 25 and 54 living outside of jail, there are only 83 black men.] On top of the numerical shortage of black men, the chances are reduced further when you factor in men who are not relationship material because they have not dealt with their own baggage or have serious issues.
I believe the statistics and the fear of being alone cause many to pause when considering ending a relationship. I am confident that my tolerance for BS has dramatically increased over the years because of the reality of dating Black in America. And, now that I am open to the idea of dating, this non-negotiable list that my friends keep encouraging me to create freaks me out.
The bottom line, many women, especially older women, settle because they do not want to deal with the extraordinary fear of being alone.
LADIES, DO NOT SETTLE!
I am so happy that I decided to take the leap of faith.
This journey, while scary, has been extremely exciting and rewarding. I have reacquainted myself with the Tonza that existed before she slipped into survival mode, and I wake up every day with a smile on my face.
I play my music as loud as I want to. I dance around my house all I want to. I dance in my car all I want to. I invite my friends to come to hang out during the middle of the week if I want to, without fear of disrupting a rigid, monotonous schedule. I laugh out loud alone and in public without caring what others think (ask my friends :-)). I cry without apologizing because I am one of those strange people who feels so much better after I cry about stuff that hurts me. I wake up at 5 am, drink my coffee, and spend time on my front porch, reflecting on how great my life is just because I am happy.
By finally embracing myself and what makes me happy, I fell upon the secret to successful parenting.
Just ask my girls, and they will tell you there is nothing more important than a happy home. The huge laughs that I get out of them these days are priceless.
As for my “meaningful connection”, I am still hopeful. One thing I know for sure is that the chances increased for me because I decided not to settle.