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Monique Ruffin Headshot

Single on Valentine's Day

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Several years ago my now ex-husband, then boyfriend, told me that his prayer for me was that I would know how beautiful I was. These words penetrated deep inside of me because I had never been told I was beautiful in such a pure way. In addition to those heartfelt words, I also heard him saying, I wish you knew your worth and didn't need me to be your foundation and assurance. I could feel him saying it's too much for someone who is beautiful to need assurance from someone outside of herself. It took many years but I finally got it.

For years I dreamt of being married, the actual ceremony running like a movie in my mind, long before reality television shows taunted us with lavish weddings, designer wedding gowns and a rock star mentality about a romantic union. Love and marriage were the ultimate pinnacle for me and I spent every day as single woman, looking and praying for the man that would choose me and validate my reason for being alive. Yeah, I know it sounds dramatic and needy, but it's true and because I experienced it so personally I can spot it in other women like I can hear my name being called. I was so trapped by the illusion of happily ever after, Cinderella style that I'd take anything, crumbs to be chosen by a man.

What cured me? Marriage. Simply put being married cured me and helped me see that in order to be a partner in a good healthy, thriving, loving marriage I needed to be happy, thriving and confident as a woman. I needed to know that I was enough single, married or whatever incarnation I had assumed.

Marriage is something that women in American are sold on a daily basis. We ain't right or complete unless we've got a man behind us to validate our worth. Check the BET hit Being Mary Jane. She is a successful, gorgeous, smart and likable woman who is desperate for a partner, so thirsty that she can't see herself, her beauty, power and magnetism. Mary Jane is so real to me because I was her minus the fabulous career.

As I work with myself and other young women who abandon their self love and knowledge to be partnered I have to acknowledge that the desire to procreate is very compelling. It is undeniable that women have a strong desire to have children. I will also say that having a child did something within me that nothing else could ever touch. Becoming a mother helped me see the power and magic of being a woman. For the first time, I understood that I am woman, I have a womb and I make people.

It's a confidence booster and a motivator like nothing else. And maybe this is where the ball stops. Maybe women are so driven by their desire to have children that they attach it to the romantic idea of love in order to bring the chariot home. For some women this is true and for most I believe not. I didn't yearn for children before I was married and knew that marrying a man who desired children meant that I'd have children. I also know women who say they want children and marriage and have had unplanned pregnancies and chose to terminate them. I also have a number of friends who have chosen to adopt or be inseminated to have children without being married. This tells me that in today's society, if children are your desire, they can be had, husband or not.

All of this brings me to being single and happy. I never thought I would ever be single and happy about it. For decades I sought validation outside of myself, with so much fever and thirst that the men who loved me could spot my wound a mile away. I had another boy friend tell me, how important it was that I follow my own dreams for happiness and not make him the center of my world and responsible for my sense of self and peace. Fast forward to today and I never imaged that one day I'd have several really wonderful men in my life and I wouldn't be manipulating and finagling to get one of them to choose me, make me their woman. When I heard myself telling a really great guy that I'd been dating, "I'm not interested in a committed relationship right now because I want to focus on my career and my health," I had to look to see who I'd become. Somehow I escaped from the vicious cycle of looking for love and found a place of comfort with myself. I say no when I mean no and yes when I mean yes. Valentine's Day gives me an opportunity to choose who I will be and whom I will choose rather than waiting to see who will choose me.

For the first time I finally see that being a woman has more to do with really believing that we have all the power. Men say it all the time, "You have all the power." For me all the power means I can choose and I choose myself first. I choose to see myself as a beautiful, creative and desirable woman who'd make a man's life more amazing. And the best part is that my life is amazing already. I don't need to have a partner or husband to know I'm valuable. It's so nice to be free and unencumbered by false illusions that continually remind me happiness is out there just beyond the horizon.

My ex-husband's prayer for me came true. I no longer make other people responsible for my sense of beauty and feeling loved. It took me decades to get this. I wish I could help other women get it faster than I and with less heartbreak and self betrayal. Everyone has to walk the path they choose to enlightenment. I hope those of us who are spending Valentine's Day alone or without romantic love, do so knowing we are enough by the mere fact of our existence.

Check out Te-Erika's list of what to do if you're single on V-day here.

Also follow me at Generation Sex and Purple Clover for more adventures in sex, dating and self love.