Welcome to Love School. Class is in session! Abiola’s Love School is a weekly empowered Love Lesson, inspirational class and juicy conversation about love, relationships, dating, sex, commitment and self worth. Each assignment will include homework, resources and actionable steps. Let’s move beyond the surface to experience the true love and intimacy we deserve. Are you in?
“Thank you for not tap dancing on my misery; even when I wasn’t always returning the favor." ~Gabrielle Union
A few years ago I attended the wedding of an Afro-Caribbean groom and a Nigerian American bride. The groom was a lawyer and the bride was a doctor and the gorgeous ceremony celebrated all of their cultures - African American, West African, West Indian. They were setting off to recreate a real live “Cosby Show.” The minister’s sermon was powerful as he admonished us, the celebratory audience, about the lack of community around love.
“As you’re all dressed up and present to witness this coming together you are now partially responsible for this couple’s success,” he commanded. He went on to say, “Support them because if this doesn’t work out you are all required to return here together and explain why.”
It was such a powerful thought at the time that it brought me to tears. They were my friends and I was obligated to be the keeper of my brother - and especially my sister. So when the marriage crumbled a few years later did I show up anywhere, question the situation, offer my support as the preacher requested? Nope. Sadly, I was too knee deep in my own life to even notice. Come to think of it, the preacher (my dad) said the same at my own first wedding and no one showed up when that completed itself either.
How would our men treat us if we really walked the talk of sisterhood? What if we adhered to a strict policy of “no sister left behind?” What kind of difference would it make if we truly had each others’ backs in matters of life and love? How would our own lives reflect the positivity we put out towards others? What if you celebrated the success of other women rather than reveling in their dramas?
Olympic hopeful Lolo Jones went viral last week with her cut-throat tweet about Rachel Jeantel. Jeantel is a 19-year-old teen who must recover from the trauma of having her friend Trayvon Martin brutally killed by testifying on the witness stand against his accused murderer. Jones is a 30-year-old athletic advertising favorite with major corporate sponsors. Instead of supporting this young girl the privileged celebrity chose a ‘kick her while she’s down’ approach.
Gabrielle Union has been speaking out courageously about the way women treat other women. At the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards she boldly proclaimed, “I used to revel in gossip and rumors, and I lived for the negativity inflicted upon my sister actresses or anyone who I felt whose shine diminished my own." Union has been forced meanwhile to privately defend herself as her famous boyfriend’s ex-wife has publicly alleged all sorts of things about their relationship. There are certainly no sisterly feelings lost there.
These stories are important not for the grace of Gabby Union or the idiocy of Lolo Jones, but for us to look at our own lives. Most of us are not virgin model athletes or Hollywood superstars, but we can all relate to backbiting and backstabbing. Oppressed peoples are taught culturally to despise themselves. Women are taught to hate other women; people of color are taught to hate other people of color. We witness it time and time again, people who are hurt hurting others.
We hear women say things like, “that’s why I only hang with men.” Perhaps we’re the ones who feel this way. Like all of you, I have felt deeply betrayed by other women. I have been hurt and disappointed by friends. I have had terrible women bosses
However, the next level lesson is that the other woman is you. If you look at other women and see beauty and positive energy, it’s because that’s what you are projecting and reflecting. If you look at other women and see hate, jealousy and scorn, guess what? That’s what you are also projecting and reflecting.
What’s going on with the woman in the mirror? How are you being judgmental? How have you been hateful, jealous and scornful of other women?
Keeping it real forces me to admit that yes, I have been betrayed but I have also betrayed other women. I have publicly mocked and ridiculed other women for laughs. There are times I could have been a better friend or offered support but I did not. Sometimes it was because I didn’t want to. Other times it was because I didn’t care but here’s the real deal. Any time someone says “I don’t care,” watch out! What she means is, “it hurts too much to care.”
It starts on the playgrounds when we try to diminish each other’s shine with, “She thinks she’s cute!” No, the truth is that you think she’s cute and you think you’re ugly. Then as adults we use the excuse of being “straight up” or “honest” to carelessly brutalize other people. We think, well I don’t know her so it’s not my fault if her man wants me.
If you have been intimate with a man who you know had someone else at home, you were wounding another woman. If you had a chance to support or promote another woman and you didn’t, you were only keeping yourself small. If you saw a friend going down a heart-rending path of love and didn’t at least offer questions rather than your opinion, you were not doing your job. If you know things about a friend’s relationship and you don’t tell her, you need to look up the definition of friendship.
If you participate in lowest common denominator gossip behind the back of people you claim to care for, you are losing. If there are unhealed rifts that trigger your primal wounds, communicate. So much can be fixed with a simple conversation. I am re-learning this in my own life right now.
There are unlimited resources. You are not in competition for blessings. Another woman’s success in love, money, career or family does not diminish the chances of yours. On the contrary; her success shows others what is possible. Your gratitude for her well-being creates the climate for your own. She is not leaving you behind. She is carving a path.
Your love life directly reflects what you think of yourself. Write that down and then be responsible for the love and the energy that you carry forward. If you want a friend, be a friend. If you want love, be loving. Giving is a cycle and for many of us superwomen that means learning how to ask for and receive help and support as much as we give it. These are the keys to form community, friendship, sisterhood and positive, loving relationships.
Woman, first love thyself.
Address these questions in a notebook. You may want to form a Love School Playgroup with your friends to do these assignments. Take 5 deep, cleansing breaths to get centered and begin.
1. How are you as a sister and a friend? Are you a “girl’s girl?" Why or why not? What do your female friendships mean to you?
2. How have you betrayed other women? Who have you failed to stand up for?
3. How do you give support to women and girls? Is this important to you? Why or why not?
4. Giving is a cycle that includes receiving. Do you feel comfortable asking for help when you need it? Why or why not? Where in your life can you practice good self care by allowing yourself to receive help from others?
Passionate Living Coach Abiola Abrams gives extraordinary women inspiring advice on healthy relationships, evolved sexuality and getting the love we deserve. You’ve seen her love interventions in magazines from Essence to JET and on shows from MTV’s “Made” to the CW Network’s “Bill Cunningham Show.” Find love class worksheets, advice videos, coaching, and more at “Abiola’s Love University.” Tweet @abiolaTV or #loveclass.