Updated: May 11
"It ain't no way for me to give you all you need. If you won't let me give you all of me. " - Aretha Franklin
When Mara Brock Akil’s Love Is__ was set to premiere on OWN. I was more than excited to watch! Not only was it set in the '90s. It was based on Mara's real-life relationship with her husband, Salim Akil. The show is all about two writers falling in love. But when I started to watch the show, it hit a little too close to home. The first episode showed the couple having an all-night conversation at a coffee shop—my heartache at the similarity.
When Sincere and I first met, we stayed up all night talking at Tim Hortons. While I loved that I had something in common with one of my favorite writers, it was slowly killing me inside. As the show continued, my relationship deteriorated, and I didn't have the heart to keep watching. Fast-forward two years later, and I see Love Is sitting on my brother’s Amazon account. It took me nearly two weeks to watch the show. And even then, I took it slow. The show was like relieving and grieving my own failed relationship.
For most of the break-up, I spent time obsessing over what went wrong. But while watching this series, I was reminded of those earlier moments for the first time in a long time. It was nice to be reminded of all those special moments that built our bond. Then shit started to take a turn. If you watched the show, it was around the time Ruby had plastic surgery. If you haven't watched it, this was the episode where Yasir (Salim) declared that he didn't believe in Valentine's Day.
So Nuri (Mara) proclaimed that she didn't believe in it either. She then spent the following day in her feelings while everyone around her celebrated. Spoiler alert, the episode ended with Yasir having a change of heart. He didn’t do anything over-the-top thing. He simply declared that he would make every day Valentine’s Day. As I sat on my couch in a pool of tears, I couldn’t help but think that I had it all wrong. Maybe I wasn’t the Nuri of this love story? Maybe, I was Ruby all along.
Ruby was the woman before Nuri. She was the one who helped Yassir get on the road to turning his dreams into a reality. While she worked to provide for both of them. And unfortunately, in the end, she was the one who Yasir left for Nuri. It wasn't that I identified with Ruby being left high and dry. It was Yasir's actions that touched me most. His actions showed me that if a man is serious about you, he will make adjustments and accommodations for the woman he loves. When a man (or woman) wants you, he will let it be known.
He will be transparent in his actions and intentions. As well as go out of his way to remove all doubts about where he stands in your life. As hard as it was for me to admit it, those were the missing qualities in my relationship. I was doing all this stuff to "better" myself, just so that I could prepare myself for the inevitable. Watching Love Is taught me what was not in my relationship. I can identify with Nuri wanting to be loved, nurtured, and protected. But looking at this series through a more mature lens, I can see some red flags with Yasir.
He was controlling, and Nuri was just a little naïve. While I believe they had a great romance. I can't help but think that Yasir's pride always seems to overshadow Nuri's shine. In the middle of the Love Is_ series run, there was a sexual allegation launched towards Salim. Due to the rumors (and lawsuit), the series was canceled. Meanwhile, Salim's Black Lighting series continued and ended on the creator’s (Salim) terms. If you didn't watch Love Is, there was a scene towards the end of the series where Yassir ruined a career first for Nuri.
She had just written her very first script (after fighting for it), and instead of using this opportunity to bask in her glory. Nuri chose to share this moment with Yassir by inviting him to the live taping. She planned to introduce him to some agents and the head writer. Long story short, Nuri missed her moment in the spotlight because Yassir was late and got into it with the doorman. Not only did he embarrass her at her job, but he also made the moment entirely about him! Now flashback to the present, you can't help but see how this pattern continues to play out
in this couple's life.
Love Is being canceled is messed up. But I don't believe it's entirely based on Salim’s allegations. The show started off very strong initially, but it took a nosedive at the end, unlike any of Mara’s previous work. Perhaps Mara knew that this allegation was coming, and it hindered her from completing her story. Either way, it's sad to see this big moment fall flat. But it all taught me a valuable lesson: the person you choose to marry can make or break your life(and career). I've watched countless biopics where powerful women's careers were nearly ruined because of an insecure man.
It’s not just important that your partner sees your shine. But your partner should never be the one to throw shade on it. This situation showed me that if you don't fix a toxic pattern at the beginning of a relationship, it can come back to haunt you. We've all heard the saying: How you find him is how you will lose him. But maybe we should say: How a relationship starts is how it will more than likely end. Like a child, it is critical to set the tone of the relationship in the beginning stages. Love Is taught me that I am done with struggle love. All that chasing love shit is done!
In my world, Love Is never hard. It’s smooth, dependable, and strong like my morning coffee. I want a love that’s magical, uncomplicated, but extraordinary in every way. I want an old-school love in this digital world—one where a man takes the time to date me. Maybe I've watched too many rom-com movies. But I want a love that excites me and keeps me on my toes. And not because I'm getting whiplash for all the mix signals or the constant head games. But due to the surprising 'just because gifts,' love notes, and late-night conversations. Life has taught me at my grown-ass age that Love is clarity.
As kids, when we talked about what type of husband we want - I remember saying shit like I want him to be tall or light skin with a pretty smile. It was all about the physical, but I never thought about his heart, his character, or if he believes in love? How would his family and friends treat me? Or how he would treat our kids. A relationship, especially marriage, is so much more than the physical. I want a partner that will help me evolve into the best version of myself- not out of survival or fear. But because I feel safe, loved, and protected. I want a love that people-based fairytales on, and I won't settle for anything less.
Love Is allowed me to heal this part of me that was dreading the end of my relationship, the part that believed maybe Sincere and I could get it right. But what I realized is that when your foundation is shaky in the beginning. It’s bound to fail. As painful as it’s been for this tower to fall. It was necessary for me to learn and grow. If it hadn't, I would have spent the rest of my life chasing love. While I do feel like Yassir's intention was clear from the beginning. The relationship was built on co-dependency. When you finally find that person who sees your light and truly gets you. It becomes a safe haven. You feel like if you let go, you will never find it again. But love is not meant to be hoarded. It’s meant to be experienced.
Nuri's need for love and acceptance didn't allow for their love to bloom organically. Young love is obsessive, and it’s fast-paced. But mature love takes its time and respects the life that was there before it arrived. Now I understand why the bible says “love is patience” because if it’s real.There is no need to rush. It will be able to withstand the test of time. To date, Mara's still with Salim and happily married. Back in April, she posted "22 years" in an Instagram post to commemorate their love. Though her show was canceled on OWN. She was still able to sign a deal with Netflix. So I’m sure there is plenty of great shows in the works for Mrs. Akil. I just hope that this time around, her star can shine brightly. All on its own.
In my Black Angel Oracle Deck, there is a card called the Sun Daughter, and it says:
Unconditional love does not equal love under any condition. You cannot feel love under any condition. If someone is abusing you, it is not love; it is pain. If the love is being controlled and directed, it is not unconditional. Unconditional love can only be felt between those who can be vulnerable, unveiled imperfect and undefensive in their loving. Those are not conditions; they are qualities that support love. With those qualities, love can be unlimited.
Love is not like the movies or anything the world tries to sell us. It's undefinable, and yet it's a feeling that we all know so clearly. Love Is a verb, and it’s being able to grow. I’m so grateful for this show because it allowed me to close this chapter of my life with Sincere.
By knowing what Love Is not for me,
I can open my heart for what Love Is.