[dropcap]I [/dropcap]can honestly say that I have never been in love before. Don’t get me wrong, I have been in a lot of “lust” situations and I have definitely been in a lot of “like” situations, but “love,” I can’t quite say that I have been there. On this journey of walking in my truth, I was able to realize that for many years I was dating without really having all my shit together. I don’t mean surface level items, either. I mean really having a full understanding of who I was and whether I was truly happy with the person I was becoming.
I lived under this belief that I was always looking for my “better” half. It really wasn’t until recently that I figured out just how disrespectful and flawed that statement is. Hear me out. To say that someone is a half gives the connotation that they are missing something. To say I am looking for my “better” half even furthers this belief that, even in the relationship, I am less than my partner and that there are certain areas of your life that are void and need to be filled. When you really think about it this way, it kinda hurts. The worst thing about that statement is that it pushes this narrative that me being my best only means that I am at fifty percent. Imma say that again. I. Me. Myself. Even when I have all my shit together, I am only half of the person I truly can be.
This would mean that people who remain single, never reach their full potential in life. This would also mean that people who are in non-monogamous types of relationships are all kinds of crazy percentages of their full selves. Let me be clear. For February, the month that is the home to Valentine’s Day, I want single people and even those in relationships to work on being “whole.” This year, I want people to do what makes them happy. If you are unhappy about body image, go to the gym on this day. If you always wanted to get a tattoo but worried about what others may think, get a tattoo. Buy yourself some flowers. Take yourself out to eat dinner. Show yourself some love because you are wonderfully created and beautifully designed and that deserves some selfishness!
For me being whole isn’t just as simple as having my finances in order. Having a car, a job, a place is all surface level. Having my shit together includes affirmation in myself of who I was, who I am, and who I will become. I now live my life working on filling my own voids on my own. If I am unhappy with body image, I am not looking for someone else to accept it before I am willing to accept it myself. If I have voids in certain areas of my life, it is my duty to fill those voids. It should never be someone else’s duty to fill voided areas in my life. Love starts at home. Love starts from within. It used to be that person who was upset about my “love life” never realizing that I was never in love with me. How could I expect someone else to love my flaws and all when I hadn’t fully come to terms with them myself?
Even when we talk about HIV and serodiscordant relationships we must be certain that we are affirming that having the virus does not make you less of a person. Having HIV is a just a small part of the entire person that you are. Being HIV-positive should not be a detriment to the dating pool. With advancements in treatment and the introduction of PrEP into the market, it is my hope that many of the stigmas around dating and loving a person who is HIV-positive will soon fade away. People who are living with HIV should not have to live with the fear of being alone. People who are black and gay should no longer think that they are not worthy enough to find love.
I also want to point out the fact that love may not be in the cards for everyone and that is OKAY! Being single for the rest of your life does not have to be looked upon as some type of failure. Nurture the relationships you already have rather than being depressed about the ones you long to be in. Mathematically, all of us in the dating pool will not get married. All of us will not find a lifelong partner. To live under this belief is a disservice to yourself. Know that you are enough for you and that as long as you love yourself, nothing else should even matter.
I conclude this by saying I will no longer chase my other “half.” I will do things that make me happy and make me whole. This in turn will show who I truly am. This is what I want the world to see. This is what I want my other “whole” to be attracted too. Happy Valentine’s Day all. Let’s do the work on finding our other wholes.
George M. Johnson is an HIV advocate who works for Us Helping Us, People into Living located in Washington, D.C. He has written for Pride.com, Musedmagonline.com, Blavity.com, Rolereboot.org, and Ebony.com. Follow him on Twitter @IamGMJohnson.