The Color of Love: How I Finally Found My Soul Mate
By Bianca Alexander
Before getting married, my life was like a rerun of Sex & the City. On an endless quest for Mr. Right, I dated every loser in the book. The nice guy next door: he was a perfect gentleman but boring in bed; the jet-setting playboy who made my spine tingle: he was a verbally abusive philanderer; the freakishly handsome jock with 6-pack abs but the IQ and emotional maturity of a 12 year-old; the artistically talented but tortured artist with an incurable drug problem; and the brilliantly insecure attorney who wanted me to shelf my career to become his stay-at-home trophy wife. I could go on, but I‘ll spare you the drama.
This chapter in my life came to an abrupt halt nearly 15 years ago, when I tried breaking up with my then-boyfriend, a possessive commitment phobe. He mocked my dream of marrying “the one” but was unwilling to let me go find him. That night, out of anger and desperation, he brandished a shiny 9-millimeter and pointed it in my direction. Other than on TV, I had never even seen a gun. My life flashed before my eyes. I saw family and friends mourning at my closed-casket funeral over a life cut short. Fortunately, I was lucky: he let me go with just a scare. On the teary drive home, I decided to no longer settle for less than what I deserved. After deep soul-searching, I resolved to stop dating (and having sex!) all together until I found my soul mate. Needless to say, I spent many a lonely Friday night binging out on ice cream and Lifetime movies. Those nights were so much more peaceful than any I had ever had when I was dating.
Following advice I’d read in a self-help book, I began envisioning my ideal mate. Instead of hanging out in the usual bar scene or going on empty dinner dates and booty calls, I spent my newly found alone time introspecting on what I wanted my life to be from that point forward. On a legal pad, I wrote down everything I wanted to experience in a soul mate relationship. The list was long: companionship, spiritual growth, adventure! On one side, I listed everything I wanted in an ideal mate. On the other side, I wrote down all of the ways my own character traits did or didn’t match the wish list. It was clear I had some inner work to do. In the coming weeks, I thought long and hard about the person I wanted to be in a healthy, balanced, loving relationship. I wanted to find a whole person to spend the rest of my life with, so I, too had to be a whole person. It was a tall order.
I slept with the list under my pillow. In the meantime, I went to church, I worked out and kept watching Lifetime on Friday nights to keep me company. I started to romance myself. I even sent myself flowers and love letters! Almost like magic, exactly two month’s later, I met Michael. We literally bumped into each other at the least likely of places—a gay party in West Hollywood. The attraction was instantaneous: He was tall and handsome; witty with a fun-loving personality; romantic and adventurous; artistic and entrepreneurial; a yogi, and most of all, spiritually grounded. He was everything I wrote down on my soul mate list, and one thing I hadn’t: he was white.
Although skin color wasn’t important enough to include on the list, after meeting Michael, the thought of dating outside my race gave me pause. Would dating a white man make me a “sell out” to the Black community? Would he ever understand what it felt like to be a black woman living in America? Would either of our parents approve an interracial marriage?
After a few amazing dates, it didn’t take long for us to figure out we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. Nevertheless, our first two years together were difficult. Growing up on opposite coasts, we had dramatically different backgrounds and experiences. I loved to dance, he loved to snowboard (read the story here about our hilarious first ski trip together). I believed most white people in America were inherently racist; he believed that other than the LAPD and back-country hicks, racism only existed in people’s heads. Whenever the topic of race came up, it always ended in an argument. So we skirted the issue.
One day, walking in New York City’s Greenwich Village after a fun day of shopping, a well-dressed black man in a bow tie called Michael a “white devil” to his face. It was shocking and hurtful, especially since we were in New York City, not rural Mississippi. It was finally time to confront the pink elephant. We spent the entire rest of the day processing the incident, and all the other times we felt discriminated against as individuals and as a couple. Like the time when I was three living in Maryland, and my best friend uninvited me to her birthday party because her daddy didn’t want any “niggers” in their pool. Like the many times Michael was chased, bullied and harassed for being a “white boy” in his predominantly black middle school in San Francisco. Like all the times Michael got better service in fancy restaurants when I wasn’t with him. Like all the times white women sneered at me for no apparent reason, and black men scowled at him whenever we walked by hand in hand.
We decided to rent the 1977 award-winning miniseries “Roots”, based on Alex Haley’s best-selling novel about his African ancestors’ brutal journey into slavery in America. Watching the film, we cried together for almost eight hours straight. It forced us to confront our nation’s painful history, our own backgrounds as descendants of both slaves and slave owners, and come to terms with how being with someone who the world viewed as “different” made us feel. We talked about how it felt to live in a country that in some states, outlawed interracial marriage until 1972.
By asking one another powerful questions, and listening carefully to the answers, we stopped making fear-based assumptions about our differences. By creating a space to share openly and honestly without judgment, our defenses slowly started to come down. One day, just for fun, we took one of those DNA tests that can tell you where your ancestors come from. I’m African-American with Cherokee Indian, Ethiopian and West Indian roots. Michael’s family hails from Germany, Ireland, England and France. But guess what? When we received our ancestral reports, our DNA lines looked almost identical: for some reason, they both traced back to East Africa. Go figure.
Today, I’ve come to accept that being racist has nothing to do with skin color. During a recent year living abroad in Asia, we experienced pointing, jeering and staring (from other brown and beige- skinned people in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam) not unlike what my parents must have experienced in the ’30s in the Jim Crow South. The fact is, racism is just another spiritual malady, a meanness of the heart that stems from a fundamental lack of self-love. For us, a solid spiritual practice is the balm that heals all wounds. When we meditate, we feel more connected to a Universal higher power in each of us that exists beyond race, ethnicity, gender and religion. With this as our foundation, we’ve managed to transcend the illusion of race—at least with one other. I guess it’s easier not to be racist when you love someone.
As soul mates, we face the same challenges, arguments and ups and downs most relationships do. I hate picking up his dirty socks and sometimes, his Irish temper. He thinks I’m overly critical and talk too much. Despite our imperfections, we’ve built an unshakable spiritual connection that like it or not, has forced us to dive beneath the surface that dooms many skin-deep relationships. There, we’ve discovered a universal truth that despite being different “colors”, we share a divine love that exists in all hearts.
Want to hear more of our crazy story? Read 8 Secrets For Lasting Love.