Communion is the Path to Self-Love
For my thirty-fifth birthday, I decided I wanted to do something different in celebration of entering my mid-thirties and commemorating this new energy I’ve embraced in regards to singleness as a Black woman, specifically when you are single and 30 plus, getting older can bring on a lot of anxieties. My celebration was me taking myself on my first international solo trip to Mexico, and the revelations I gained during this solo adventure are awe-inspiring. Even outside the U.S, the stares and questions I received for being solo astonished me and provided me with epiphanies of hard truths on being single, Black, and female.
Society has placed an overwhelming amount of emphasis on a woman attaching herself to someone or something to be “worthy.” In my singleness journey, I’ve discovered it’s truly a bunch of bullshit because how dare you to have the audacity to pursue wholeness for yourself and not for the intent or pursuit of partnership? I, too, was once bound by the shackles of patriarchy; however, my perspective has significantly evolved. This shift in perspective is accounted for by the reframing and unlearning of the narrative society has shaped about single Black women. The late bell hooks book Communion: The Female Search for Love assisted in this shift specifically after reading this passage:
“All girls continue to be taught when they are young, if not by their parents then by the culture around them, that they must earn the right to be loved–that “femaleness” is not good enough. This is a female’s first lesson in the school of patriarchal thinking and values. She must earn love. She is not entitled. She must be good to be loved. And good is always defined by someone else, someone on the outside” (hooks 7 ).
From an early age, we have been indoctrinated to seek and find love outside of ourselves and ultimately to our detriment. Our value isn’t rooted in partnership, nor should our singleness be weaponized against us. Still, I’ve come to realize, unfortunately, having full agency over ourselves instead of placing our identity, value, or worthiness in “keeping a man” causes disdain from others. I was once told by a man, “If a single Black woman doesn’t submit to a man, she will always find herself alone.” The caveat to this is that most Black men view submission to control and take agency over a woman. Instead of changing the narrative of a woman having dominion placed over her men, they would instead taunt her with singleness and diminish the value she’s put on herself. In Communion, bell hooks offer a powerful rumination, “The absence of hierarchy in which someone is on top, and someone on the bottom based on gender creates an environment where sharing and reciprocity is more the norm” (hooks 184). I believe in the power of duality; you can desire partnership and have individual agency. I believe love is the core of who we are; however, I don’t believe in sacrificing yourself for the sake of partnership.
On this Valentine’s Day, whether you are single or partnered, I encourage you to Communion with yourself; the most important relationship you have is with yourself. Communion is defined as:
The sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.
Take the time today to journal the following:
I love myself because….
Write yourself a love letter.
How can I commit to the practice of self-love daily?
Communion in its entirety is a powerful compilation on women and love; however, my favorite chapters were: choosing and learning to love, sisterhood: love and solidarity, our right to love, witness to love, and blissed-out: loving communion.
Although she is no longer with us, bell hooks have ferociously shown us the path to reaching the space of authentic, mutual, and genuine love within ourselves. She has shown us how to disrupt and dismantle the narrative society has perpetuated onto our psyche and construct our personal ethos on love. I leave you with these words by the prolific bell hooks, “The one person who will never leave us, whom we will never lose is oneself. Learning to love our female selves is where our search for love must begin.”
In Writing Black Girl Solidarity