“Scar tissue that I wish you saw…”
– Red Hot Chili Peppers
I am not a strong Black woman.*
I’m not an angry Black woman, either. At least, not any more than I am a naïve Black woman, or a wise Black woman, or an over-sexualized Black woman, or a broken Black woman…
I definitely have strengths; I have lots of them. So too, do I possess my fair share of vulnerabilities. I’m also capable of anger, naïveté, wisdom, extreme sexual passion and the kind of pain that comes from experiencing a broken heart. Not to mention a host of other qualities that are too long to list here. But I am never entirely any one of these things; I am all of them, at intervals.
So, no: I am not a strong Black woman. Not lately. But being expected to be one is exhausting the hell out of me.
I know this, because I’ve spent a good portion of the past few days either in tears or attempting to hide the evidence. The truth is, I’ve been grieving. Not sleeping, not indulging in the self-care that would likely soothe me, and definitely not—especially not—writing.
And what have I been grieving, exactly? I’m going to leave the specifics between these four walls, a few select individuals and me; but it’s not a death, major tragedy, or an injustice. It’s less tangible than that.
I think it’d be safe to say that I’ve been grieving a moment passed, an opportunity missed, and most importantly, a loss of hope. Simply put, I think I’ve been experiencing a very necessary growing pain; one likely long overdue, at age 40.
I honestly can’t even remember the last time I cried before this past weekend, which says a lot about how charmed my life has been lately. But hope is a funny thing: it can live inside you, dormant for years, until something—or someone—shakes it loose. And suddenly, there it is: awake, and staring you in the face.
To tell the truth, I think I’d hoped—without ever admitting it (even to myself)—that this Tinder experiment would shake something loose in my life; something that was stuck and stagnant. I thought that maybe, just maybe, doing something that felt so profoundly out of character and against my better judgment might send up a flare into the Universe. Somehow, it might write across the sky: “I am here, and I am (finally) ready. Let’s go.”
But Tinder was never intended to be the answer; at least, not the answer I was seeking. Tinder was simply a means to an end, a grand gesture. Surely, once I’d made it clear that I was open to possibility, a door (or a heart) would open to me…
Except, I never considered that it wouldn’t.
I thought showing up would be enough. I thought that the invitation into my now open heart would be irresistible. I thought that jumping into the deep end that is Tinder would be the catalyst, not the control. I was wrong.
So…please forgive my silence these past few days. I’ve been grieving a loss, adjusting to a new reality, and being forced to walk my talk, starting exactly where I am: on Tinder, at 40, wondering if this is really what I signed up for, or just another unfortunate side effect of wishful thinking.
Either way, I’m not sure I’ve left myself much room to do anything except to let go…and keep showing up.
*Yes, I’m fully aware that the pain I’m expressing here is not exclusive to Blackness, but this blog stems from my personal perspective as a Black woman, so that is the reference point from which I speak.