Love, For My Grandmother (Gabrielle Hickmon)


“How far have you walked for men who’ve never held your feet in their laps? How often have you bartered with bone, only to sell yourself short? Why do you find the unavailable so alluring? Where did it begin? What went wrong? Who made you feel so worthless? If they wanted you, wouldn’t they have chosen you? All this time, you were begging for love silently, thinking they couldn’t hear you, but they smelt it on you, you must have known that they could taste the desperate on your skin? And what about the others that would do anything for you, why did you make them love you until you could not stand it? How are you both of these women, both flightly and needful? Where did you learn then, to want what does not want you? Where did you learn this, to leave those that want to stay?” - Warsan Shire

Somewhere along the way, I bought into the lie that I wasn’t enough. The lie that I had to accept XYZ piece of bullshit in order to prove my worth. The lie that back and forth, hot and cold is just what relationships in 2017 are made of. The lie. The lies.

Somewhere along the way, I decided to make wanting what does not want me my ministry. Second only to my leaving of those that want to stay. Leaving, pushing away - whatever you want to call it.

Somewhere along the way, I forgot everything I was taught about love and traded in those lessons for the weary ways of the world. Ways that were never in my purview.

Dysfunction is something I picked up. It wasn’t something I was taught. My parents have been married for 31 years. My dad is present, available, supportive, and emotionally involved in my and my mother’s life. So where did I learn to want men who do not want me?

My father once told me that his mother, my grandmother, from whom I take my middle name was a fixer. She thought she could fix men. She tried to fix his father and his brother’s father - failing at saving both. I never knew her, but I think she passed this trait a long to me with her name. 

I wonder if she was a giver too. If she struggled with confidence in every part of her life except her relationships - when she had no reason to doubt her worth. If this insecurity manifested itself as overcompensating for their shortcomings and inability to step up to the plate by taking on all of the weight. If she had my uncle and father in hopes that babies would make them stay. If she too gave so many pieces of herself away.

I wonder if she knew better and if she did, why didn’t she act that way? Better? Why don’t I act better?

It’s not like there weren’t signs. I might not have been sure, but I had an inkling. There’s always an inkling. Where did I learn to ignore my intuition? To favor the rationalizations of my brain instead of listening to the ever constant beat of my heart? A beat that has never let me down or steered me wrong? That little sinking feeling that travels from the heart’s chamber to the guts attaching itself to every membrane possible, infecting me with the knowledge that I was probably screwing up, nestling itself deep down in there, in my gut. Where did I learn to hide things from myself? To bury them so deep inside they had no choice but to infect me in hopes of finding their way out.

I can never eat the day after a heartbreak. I had a beef patty in the fridge.

You ever felt your heart break before? It happens quickly. One of those little imperceptible shifts in the universe so you’ll miss it if you weren’t paying attention. It’s sharp. Leaves you breathless.

My lesson in love is actually a lesson in heartbreak. One I should’ve learned a long time ago, but only figured out in this current iteration. I hope I learned it for my grandmother too - I like to think I’m her reincarnation. 

Dysfunction isn’t love.

What would it look like if I had enough confidence in myself to know that anyone who isn’t sure, isn’t someone I should want around in the first place?


Gabrielle Hickmon is the Creator-in-Chief of The Reign XY, an online publication for millennial women of color that celebrates doing both and everything in between. There she writes about a little bit of everything and prides herself on always leaving it all on the page - whether she's serving up poetry, prose, or a good read.

Honoring the collective voice of womanhood, the Lessons From Love series was created to provide a community of support for women currently in love, or healing from love. The series will use personal narratives + testimonies to empower women to make effective dating decisions and to pursue the love they rightly deserve. 

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