Turning Holiday Heartbreaks Into Clarity for 2021
Updated: Dec 29, 2020
Taking time off, social distancing with friends and family, and pretending this will be the year I take charge of preparing my mom’s big pot of gumbo, are all part of my favorite pastimes for the holiday season. More than anything else, however, what brings me joy during the pivotal week between Christmas, Kwanzaa, and the New Year, is the opportunity to revel in my guiltiest of guilty pleasures…the effervescent holiday movie.
Whether classics in black and white or originals from your favorite streaming service, I love a good Christmas story that makes me feel like anything in life is possible. Most recently I snuggled in to watch Tressa Azarel Smallwood’s “Holiday Heartbreak”, which debuted earlier this month. The modern-day holiday rom-com about a gorgeous, ambitious Black woman hitting her stride in her thirties, yet finding herself in a quandary of romantic mishaps and disappointments, hit home as I reflected on the past year as a gorgeous, ambitious Black woman hitting my stride in my thirties with no shortage of romantic mishaps and disappointments myself.
As I watched, I found the biggest difference between the protagonist and my experience in real life, is I cannot say I grew up with a father who was such a player in his heyday that one of the women from his past entanglements cursed me to a lifetime of singlehood. If anything, I have been blessed to recently watch my parents celebrate their 49th wedding anniversary, and in asking me if I believe my current state of being alone for the holidays is my permanent destination, I do not. I choose instead, to bask in the optimism my daily practices of gratitude and mindfulness afford me.
So you may be asking yourself, how did I get here?
Just as the days of sheltering in place descended upon us, I found myself not only coping with the stay at home orders and the isolation of riding out a pandemic solo but the added isolation of riding out the pandemic solo in the midst of a break-up. There is no other way to describe it other than to say going through a break-up during a global pandemic, sucks. I missed my other half like I would miss my right hand, and I could not distract myself with a late night out with my girls. Overall, I was left with an incredible amount of time to think. Although, this is not to say that I did not create any distractions.
Over the last several months, my first attempts to jump back into the virtual dating pool led to a number of mid-pandemic virtual rendezvous that often misfired but gave me an arsenal of new bad dating stories. My favorite includes a professional brother asking me on a virtual dinner date where we both agreed to come to the table over video chat with our respective meals, at a designated time. When I logged in, however, entrée and a glass of wine in hand, homie was eating his dessert expressing that he “does not eat this late”…really?
Pressing on, one of the more distressful moments along my 2020 dating journey included a heated debate sparked by comments greatly lacking in acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community, as my virtual date and I watched throwback movies from our respective homes. Although I did my best to give space to understand where the brother was coming from, anyone who knows me knows I am an adamant LGBTQ+ ally, and the conversation was all downhill from there. On the other hand, my most recent date actually occurred in person with a dinner here in Brooklyn that ended with me asking for a box to go, giving my leftovers to a homeless man, and my date hopping on his train without waiting for mine as he steadily looked down at his phone until the subway doors closed and the train took off. There was plenty of time to think, and no desire to wallow.
Ending this year single has prompted me to take my holiday heartbreaks and turn them into an opportunity to truly get clear and set my intentions as I think about relationships in 2021. Central to nearly all experiences, relationships are the blood flow around which our lives revolve whether platonic or professional, but there is something central to the romantic ones.
In 2021, clarity in your romantic relationships can begin with understanding the importance of choosing those who choose you. Take actions to maintain your self-care, and protect your energy in the marathon that comes with dating for keeps. It is knowing that without commitment, without clear intentions, and without the man or partner in your life stepping up to profess, provide, and protect, that it is ok for you to reclaim your time. We do not have to guess how a person feels about us, and whether our sheer presence sets his or her heart on fire. Love is plain and transparent.
In short, my experiences leading into holiday 2020 have allowed me to gain clarity on all that I am not willing to bring into 2021 because I now know how I feel about myself. It turns out, whether, in a romantic relationship or not, l first and foremost set my own heart on fire.