Step 1first and above,
you must begin
Sis, just for a brief moment, take a deep breath, close your eyes, clear your mind, and answer this question: What would it feel like to have someone love you just for being who you are? Someone to love you in a way that you never thought possible—a kind, generous, comfortable, yet exciting love. A love in which there is no cheating, no lies, no confusion, and no disrespect. Go deep into your feelings, sis. What would it feel like?
Does it feel strange or uncomfortable for you to imagine this type of love in your life? Do you believe it’s almost impossible to meet and marry a man who will give you his best, and bring out the best in you at the same time?
Just for a moment, forget about past relationships and experiences; forget about social statistics; forget about the movies, the media, the rules, or what anyone else thinks. Right now, all that matters in your life is what you think. Whether you’re presently single, divorced, or in an unfulfilling relationship, it doesn’t matter; just take another deep breath, and answer this: What would it really feel like to enjoy a healthy love relationship and marriage with a wonderful man?
I am not asking you to wish or hope. I’m talking about actually believing and seeing yourself in the healthy love relationship that you really want and deserve. Believe me, it can and will happen. I know, because it happened to me and to many other women. Everything I’ve learned from my research and personal experiences you’re holding in your hands.
It wasn’t luck or coincidence. I don’t base my life on luck, nor do I believe in coincidences. I believe in blessings, proper planning, and purpose. I live by the spiritual belief that everything happens at each particular stage in our lives for a reason. We may not understand each experience at the time, but as we grow on life’s path and open ourselves to God’s blessings, things become more clear and more available to us.IT’S NOT BY CHANCE THAT YOU HAVE THIS IN YOUR HANDS; IT’S SIMPLY YOUR TIME TO BE LOVED
For example, it is no coincidence that you happened to pick up this book, or that someone gave it to you, especially at this particular stage in your personal life. I believe that you have either been seeking, praying, or yearning for a different, better, or new relationship. Not just any relationship, but the one—the right one. The one that’s right for you!
I also strongly believe in the biblical principle “Ask and it shall be given.” But this is not meant to be interpreted literally. It also implies that you make a psychological and spiritual appeal. In other words, it’s not solely about the words that come out of your mouth, but also about your frame of mind and behavioral pattern—your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and actions.
Let me explain further. People may say they want one thing, yet their actions and personalities say something completely different. For example, a woman may have gone through a series of harsh and unkind experiences with men in the past, and verbally affirms that she wants an ideal mate in the present. Yet, if in fact she has not taken the time to cleanse and heal from her old memories and habits, she may, consciously or unconsciously, attract the same type of unworthy men into her life. Or, on the other hand, if a decent man steps into her life, she may not be able to bond with him in a healthy manner because past emotions will keep resurfacing and interfering with their relationship.
However, when she takes the time to first prepare herself mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, she will “ask” for and shall certainly “receive” the healthy love she seeks, and she never has to worry about ever being abandoned or lonely again.
Sis, my goal here is to help prepare you, so that you will be able to ask for, believe in, receive, and accept the wholesome relationship and marriage you deserve by first examining and then removing the hidden as well as the readily apparent emotional hindrances that may be blocking your blessings.THE BEST PLACE TO START IS WITH SELF-LOVE IN YOUR HEART
Each individual must undergo a self-actualization process in order to attract a soul mate on a higher spiritual level. We won’t be able to find a permanent and healthy love match if we don’t know how to find and love who we are first. One of the reasons so many relationships end up being bitter experiences is that the people involved did not condition themselves for better bonding. They entered into the situation prematurely. A writer friend of mine is famous for this quote: “When two half people get together, they make one whole mess.”
Sis, when I decided that I really wanted a healthy relationship and happy marriage, I had to begin with self-love and go through a spiritual renewal. As soon as I was spiritually, emotionally, and mentally ready, I received the love of my life. Now it’s your turn.
So the first step in this book is designed to help you create your individual healthy self-love. I will walk with you through a “Four-Phase Personal Makeover.” By the end of this chapter, you will experience a fantastic spiritual renewal and will feel enthusiastic, excited, and eager to explore the following steps in this healthy-love guide.
Ready? Let’s go!PHASE 1: HEALING FROM THE BITTER FLING AND RECONDITIONING FOR THE BETTER THING
We do an excellent job of putting on a front before the world. As we step onto the threshold of puberty, the elder women within the community sing the sister-solidarity anthem: “Don’t let anybody have anything over you, and never let a man know what you’re really thinking.”
This practice has built barricades around the hearts of countless sisters, resulting in years of celibacy, casual dating, or shallow relationships. And when we experience disappointment from unhealthy relationships, instead of exploring our emotions, we retreat even further within to an untouchable place in an attempt to bury the anger, which often leads to despondency and frustration.
We are walking around secretly tucked inside our invisible armor. On the outside, we may seem okay, but no one sees us when we are home alone at night, crying ourselves to sleep because of loneliness and feelings of abandonment. This armor successfully keeps others from getting in, but it also keeps us from getting out. We are prisoners within our own body temples.ALL FALSE FEELINGS MUST BE EMPTIED OUT FOR YOU TO DISCOVER WHAT REAL LOVE’S ABOUT
And it’s confusing. It’s confusing because armor is a sister’s way of defending herself, yet on the other hand her self-protective wall is holding her captive. Many Black women have already given up on love; thousands secretly yearn for it; others desperately hope for it; and many are afraid to claim it.
Let’s take a look at Veronica’s story. Veronica, an attractive thirty-four-year-old accountant, volunteered her thoughts in one of my “Healing Black Male/Female Relationships” seminars. “Why bother?” she said to me. “I’ve been through enough drama in my life to keep me busy until the next century. All I wanted was one man to love me unconditionally. Was that too much to ask? I’ve given up. I have my kids, my friends, and my career to keep me occupied.”
As we spoke, she ended up divulging some important revelations. “When I see couples walking hand in hand, I look the other way,” she admitted. “It’s not that I’m jealous, but I feel uneasy because I wish it was me. I would like someone to care about me enough to hold my hand in public, or to open a car door for me, or to just hug me and tell me everything’s going to be all right.”
Then I asked, with concern, “Why have you given up? Why don’t you start dating again?”
With tears in her eyes and a tremble in her voice, Veronica confessed, “I am afraid, Dr. Grace. I’ve been disappointed and hurt by love so much, that I’m afraid to trust again. I don’t know how to trust, so I stay away from relationships.”
As our conversation progressed, I realized that she hadn’t really given up on love, because she still yearned to be loved. Instead, she had given up on herself. In the process of removing herself from love, she had actually neglected her own feelings and desires, and buried her emotions in her “kids, friends, and career.”IN ORDER TO RENEW, “TO THINE OWN SELF THOU MUST BE TRUE”
Deep inside, Veronica was longing for healthy love with a healthy-minded mate. But the years of wearing her protective armor had created severe emotional toxic buildup. She no longer believed there was a certain someone to love her exclusively, unconditionally, and uncompromisingly. To properly prepare herself for healthy love, she had to learn how to reject toxic theories about love.
Many sisters, like Veronica, don’t know where to start. They don’t know how to trust, and they don’t know how to remove their personal armor. The simple truth is that the healthy love we crave must first be created within us. Sis, you’ve got to let go and let the love of God flow in and through you. Replace your personal armor with the protection of God’s love. Ephesians 6:13 tells us, “Take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm.” I developed the following exercise to help Veronica dissolve her personal armor. Within two weeks, she realized that it wasn’t love itself that had disappointed her, it was the particular men she had been involved with. Three months later, she wrote to report that she was “happily dating.”EXERCISE: Clearing out the emotional toxic buildup
1. What was your most disappointing relationship in the past?
2. Who has caused you pain (or vice versa)? What happened?
3. How did it make you feel during that time? Why?
4. What did you want to happen in the relationship? What would you have changed?
5. Write a letter to the person (or persons) involved, and tell every detail of how you were affected (don’t hold back; this is a chance to release your feelings on paper).
6. Looking back now, would you have ended the relationship earlier? If so, when and why? If no, why not?
7. How does it affect your life right now? How do you feel at this moment as you are writing?
8. Adopt this affirmation: “I, (your name), am valuable. I deserve healthy friendships, the right relationship, and a great life. I will no longer be deprived of my blessings.”
9. Now, tear the letter into tiny bits, and as you tear, affirm, “I now release all painful memories from my mind, my body, my heart, and my soul. My life and my spirit are now renewed. I hold no hard feelings, and I feel no more sorrow. I am now free, and something good is about to happen to me.”
10. Repeat steps 1–9 for each unhealthy relationship you can recall. (Believe me, sis, this works wonders—try it and see.)From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from You Deserve Healthy Love, Sis! by Dr. Grace Cornish. Copyright © 2003 by Dr. Grace Cornish. Excerpted by permission of Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.