when i began thinking about my swan song piece, i was overcome with ideas. i began furiously scribbling notes about all the things that needed to get left behind in twenty eighteen. from the never ending nonchalance of modern dating to ageism, body shaming and white feminism... my list was deep. some ideas that stood out were breadcrumbing, pyramid schemes and spiritual bypassing. how was i ever gonna narrow this list down? as i continued to brainstorm, i realized i was dealing with a lot of passion and a lot of anger. i was fearful of diving into any of these topics because i didn’t want to look like a bitter old lady. god forbid! then that got me to thinking about shame. it seems like the inevitable theme that can be applied to all of these topics, is in fact, the way shame roots so deeply and affects our behaviors in insidious ways.
the first thing i’d like to leave behind in 2018 is the current dating culture and the dream of the rom-com ending that will not die. for those of us who are single, we continue to plug back into the machine, on the perpetual quest to find our lobster. for many, it begins with dating apps. the dreaded “hey” with no actual conversation to follow. or worse, the immediate discussion of your favorite sexual acts before they’ve ever even met you. from the get we realize that nothing has changed, and we prepare for more nonsense in hopes of unearthing our diamond in the rough. my fave is the orientation of “polyamory” in their profile, not because they engage with that lifestyle, but because someone they know read the ethical slut and they’re using it as an opportunity to sleep with as many people as humanly possible with zero consequences. it can be a real mess out there!
let’s just say you make it through the messaging and first dates to find someone who can hold a decent conversation, pepper it with lighthearted flirtiness, and they respectfully end your time together with a sexy smooch and no lewd behavior. finally, right!? except nowadays, it’s not uncommon for even the promising ones to disappear without a trace, which is adorably referred to as ghosting. or they completely ignore you for weeks and then pop up all cute and sweet for one night and then promptly disappear the next day. the cycle repeats itself and then you realize this is the fated breadcrumbing you’ve heard about. or they are super attentive, kind and emotionally available...for five weeks, until they decide they’re just not ready to get into a relationship and they enjoy the “never grow up” peter pan syndrome. these anecdotes are par for the course and unfortunately the solution always seems to be based in some type of “toughen up and get back out there” type of mentality, like it’s a game of tackle football. i guess if i can just get my hopes crushed a few more times, eventually i will get beaten into submission and just shack up with the first person that doesn’t completely disgust me. after a while it’s hard to not feel broken. which crystal is best for finding a decent human to date?? is rose quartz good for broken p*ssy? sigh. i have done so many rituals, spells, visualizations and even created specific artwork in the name of finding love. it’s just not the time for me, and it hasn’t been for years. the shame is thick.
what compounds this already frustrating situation is when you try to commiserate with your peers and they go in with the positive thinking motivational mantras. “of course you're gonna find someone honey! don’t give up! you’re too cute and smart to stay single for long. just gotta get back out there!!” as if being single is entirely pathetic. i believe i’m a wonderful person to be with. i know i deserve someone i respect and enjoy. most of us want to find people to share our lives with! however, just because we decide we want a partner does not necessarily mean we will find a suitable suitor in a timeframe we deem appropriate. it doesn't mean there's something wrong with us if we don't. why must we continue this charade, that if we just keep working out, eating right, enjoying our hobbies and playing it cool, we will find our dream lover. psh. or even worse, they respond with “you’re complaining so much, no wonder no one wants to date you. you just need to open your heart to love!” eye roll. if idris elba was out here handwriting me love letters and making out with me in independent bookstores on rainy days, i’d be an eyelash fluttering hopeless romantic with the quickness. it’s just so patronizing. it adds even more shame on top of an already painful situation. i’m definitely guilty of lamenting my single status, but the responses i receive tend to reinforce the norms of every episode sex and the city dictated to us like gospel. i need less carrie bradshaw and more khadijah james. responses like, “ya know what, times are changing. being single sounds dope as hell. you can buy whatever furniture you want and listen to as much robyn as your pretty little ears can take. use that rose quartz as a dildo and keep it movin. enjoy yourself!” i need more folks who says shit like that, and to believe they deeply, truly mean it. a friend of mine recently said “i think i might actually just be a better, happier, more well adjusted person when i’m single” and i had to stop myself from bowing before her and kissing her feet. i definitely shed a subtle tear of joy.
as long as we are talking about the working out and eating right, i’d like to ask some more questions. why must we feel perpetually shamed for our age, our weight and what the status of our beauty regimen is? i will be turning forty next year, and i refuse to feel bad because i don’t look a certain type of way... a way that was conceived by the mind of rich old white men. men who want to keep getting richer by continually critiquing us for natural biological processes like the formation of wrinkles, the yellowing of teeth and the accumulation of rolls around our bellies. no matter how much work i do to curate my informational intake with a diverse range of women and experiences, i still find myself defaulting to this amorphous white male gaze. i put on a few pounds this year, and it continues to fill me with shame. why? why! it doesn’t make it easier when someone suggests i start running again, or that daily yoga will do the trick. y’all are supposed to be on my team! how incredible would it be if you woefully admit your favorite levi’s are uncomfortably snug, and your team shouts for joy and congratulates you for being well fed and nourished? there’s actually nothing wrong with gaining weight. nothing! there is nothing
wrong with looking your age. there is nothing wrong with saggy boobs and stretch marks and cellulite. it’s this damn system that makes us question every last inch of ourselves and internalizing these irrational beliefs that keep us stuck. we are unhealthy. we drink too much coffee. we eat too many processed foods. we are allergic to gluten. we need probiotics. we need adrenal support. we need vaginal steams. we need we need we need. we become so brainwashed with diet culture, disordered eating and beauty propaganda we don’t even know what our bodies actually need. if i’m out here questioning my looks like they are the most important thing in the world, i will surely be tricked into buying some serums, dusts, oils, packages and programs that will feed into this modern day pyramid scheme of shame. no no no no. if i look natural and all my friends look natural then no one needs to inject poison into their face or drink celery for a week straight. we can call ourselves the anti-goop group. the white- centric unachievable beauty norms can officially, unequivocally stay behind in twenty eighteen, please and thank you.
along with singleness shaming and appearance based brainwashing, i’d also like to leave behind the spiritual bypassing. while technically this is a coping mechanism that allows people to live in denial and disconnect, one of the ways it manifests in my regular life is with things like the secret and the teachings of louise hay. this idea that if we are in pain, it’s our own fault because our thoughts are impure and we have attracted negative circumstances into our lives. i am constantly deprogramming from this miracle mindset behavior that currently floods my social media feeds. of course it behooves us to embody resilience, grace and hope. no one wants to walk around with a terrible attitude at all times. we are all worthy of joy, abundance and the pursuit of our dreams. but what does that actually look like for all people from a realistic perspective? how can we foster these dreams without wandering down the path of unobtainable delusions that end in disappointment? we are told if we are truly coming from a place of alignment with love and light, then all good things will naturally flow to us and our soul’s purpose will be revealed. listen. my heart is in alignment with ezra miller 100% but for some reason he has yet to float into my life. this idea that we create illness, disease and unhappiness because we aren’t doing our spiritual work has got to go. toddlers aren’t getting hit with tear gas because their vibration is low. young men aren’t getting shot by those who are meant to serve and protect them because they forgot to cleanse their aura that morning. spiritual bypassing invalidates our lived experiences, gaslights us and ignores our personal truths. the entitlement, privilege and tone deafness of this perspective can be so harmful. we have got to do better and nurture the parts of our brains that engage in critical thinking and questioning the status quo. feeling shame because we’re not vibrating at the highest frequency helps literally no one.
i’m feeling so adamant about singing my swan song to shame because it can creep in when we least expect it. one minute i’m enjoying coffee with my friend, the next i am convinced that i will never find a partner because my skin is starting to sag and i’m not of a childbearing age and now i’m definitely not gonna find a partner because omg i just thought that and thoughts become things! the spiral never ends.
shame causes people to shut down. to build huge walls and deep moats around themselves. sure, there might be some underlying behaviors that need to be addressed and re-patterned, but if someone is cloaked in shame they will never get there. shame does not motivate one to do better. shame does not encourage folks to be the best they can be. it does not dismantle the systems that oppress us. what it can do is create a disconnect, isolation and a “fuck that! fuck them!!” type of mentality. it can quickly turn to anger and rage. but if we can hold space for each other to feel all our disappointment, sadness and frustration instead of perpetuating harmful propaganda that makes us feel like we aren’t good enough or that we aren’t doing it right, it can completely diffuse the barriers and boundaries. shame does not light the fire of resilience in our bellies or compassion in our hearts. and these days, we need resilience and compassion more than ever.