“I found the greatest love of all inside of me” – Michael Masser and Linda Creed
Note from BW of Brazil: The pain of the absence of romantic love seems to be a common experience for countless women who are judged as being black in Brazil. We’ve seen numerous examples of black women feeling passed over altogether, ignored or passed over for other, much whiter woman. But sometimes positives can come out of such situations that would normally be experienced as negative. Today’s piece is a perfect example of that. Read on…
My loneliness taught me self-love
By Laura Elisa
When I was between 3-4 years old I fell in love for the first time. Ivan was white, had straight hair cut like that of a little Indian and had dumbo ears. I liked Ivan and Ivan also liked to play with me, although I realized that Ivan treated me different in front of other classmates and sometimes pretended not to like me anymore, or not playing with me, I revealed this because I liked Ivan and I thought that Ivan liked me.
One day I returned home crying and told my mom that Ivan had called me “sua preta!” (you black) and didn’t want to play with me. My mother sent me to answer to Ivan that I was “marrom bombom” (chocolate brown), a song that was a hit at the time. So that’s what I did, I went back to school on another day and told Ivan that I was “marrom bombom” and that this was a good thing, I remember that this helped me to feel better about the situation, but it never erased the fact that my first childhood love passion rejected me for the same reason that even today they systematically reject me.
I don’t remember much except that this story, I don’t know up to what point it’s possible to have memories of three years of age, but I remember especially that episode, I never forgot, I will never forget Ivan, his dumbo ears and this mark on my self-esteem and my nonexistent love life.
I say non-existent love life because I feel that I never really was loved since my misadventure in kindergarten (and) until today nothing has changed. In any kind of romantic relationship that I tried to undertake I have always been alone, fell in love alone, loved alone and forgot about it alone. So I have decided to accept loneliness, or learn to live with it, though it is terrifying, it causes pain, it taught me things that only it could have taught me.
I believe that there is not a day in my life when I don’t feel rejected in some way. I often say that I reached the quota of rejection of a life and because of this I’m not capable of constructing possibilities to be rejected again, I don’t run after relationships equal to those that I’ve already run after, I don’t despair the same way I already despaired in adolescence, wasted time doesn’t exist, a life exists, and it happens while we do things, not after. From then I realized that my loneliness was never an option, I will co-exist with my solitude while I’m alive. Few people in life will really know the meaning of the word loneliness and I live with it up to the last consequences. It was during adolescence, childhood and adulthood my best friend, no one ever consoled themselves like me, there will always exist things about me I never told anybody, I always trusted and trust in me because I, like anyone, was always there for me. The feeling of gratitude is full when you really feel and can understand that you don’t love anything in the world as you love yourself. I managed to transform into the real the cliché of self-love, only my loneliness was capable of giving me this and free me of emotional dependence, pathological insecurity and the manipulation of men.
Today, when I read about the loneliness of black women (which very closely resembles the loneliness of fat women, trans and disabled), I understand that sometimes it is an incomplete approach, the loneliness of black women is not just about being featured in definitive celibacy statistics. I feel the loneliness of black women when I find myself consoling white friends about the emotional experiences I never had, I feel the loneliness of black women when all the black women around me, are either alone, or in abusive relationships. I understand that loneliness is only complete when it is linked to structural oppressions, we feel alone in every type of relationship because we are still stigmatized in any kind of relationship, mãe preta (black mother) (1), ama de leite (wet nurse), to which we all can attest, that dries out to feed others while their children starve. The black women holds the bar of the white women, holds the bar of the black man, and our bar we handle alone. It’s us for us, or better, us for all and no one for us. We are treated as the strength of all, we are sought for the emotional demands of everyone, but we have nowhere to unload our own demands. We have not yet reached the status of subjective beings, we are not seen as people who suffer, yes suffer, we suffer, we feel pain like you, we feel it.
Because loneliness is not just being alone, loneliness is when the whole world dedicates to you all disaffection time. Whenever I speak I remember Stephanie Ribeiro at a table that happened at UFMG (Federal University of Minas Gerais) last year, thrilled, saying we should smile at each black woman that we meet on the street, on the bus, cleaning the floor of the mall or our university. I remember the excitement I felt at that moment, and I that I feel every time I smile to an unknown black woman. The emotion of, for one millisecond, abandoning their loneliness and meeting each other.
Source: Negra Solidão
- A reference to the black mother stereotype, somewhat reminiscent of the American “mammie” or “Aunt Jemima” image.