How Rihanna’s ‘Anti’ Helped Me Love Unapologetically

Art by Teneille Craig.

Words by Stephanie K. Walls. Art by Teneille Craig.

I love hard. I get tunnel vision, and I can’t handle dating more than one person at one time. My heart doesn’t have the capacity for it. When I love someone, I’m all in and it takes a series of unfortunate events to get me off of the person and even then, there’s a piece of me that will give a million more chances if asked. I like what I like, and not much outside of that. If I couldn’t tell from songs like “Photographs,” “We Found Love,” and “Stay” that Rihanna loved in a way somewhat identical to mine, unapologetically, her eighth studio album ANTI opened my eyes completely.

ANTI is a form of liberation: from breaking away from a creative format that isn’t a reflection of the you now, to the agony of loving someone who’s no longer meant for you, to feeling what you feel, with no regrets.

The album’s closing song “Close to You,” specifically, is my heart in audio format. You can hear Rihanna fighting to hold on to a love that’s no longer. My first boyfriend and I were together for a year, and have been in and out of each other’s lives for the last seven years. Our relationship ended due to his priorities not being intact, but we remained “friends”–Actually, he was my friend and I was the girl who lingered around, hoping that he would be ready to really love me.

“I know you don’t need my protection/ But I’m in love, can’t blame me for checking / I love in your direction,  hoping that the message goes somewhere close to you,” Rihanna sings, desperately.

I remained close by. My presence was felt, no matter how distant he was at times, and my support was plentiful.

We always had this connection unlike anything I’ve felt, and it began to feel almost uncanny. When he’s on my mind, he finds me. When something’s not right on his end, I sense it. When I’m stressed, he’ll surface and calm me. We exchange secrets we don’t share with others. As I was silently begging him to tend to my heart in a way I wanted him to at the beginning of our relationship, I realized that what was naturally happening, what we were becoming, fulfilled my heart–We were becoming best friends.

I went with how I felt, at all times of our relationship, and am glad I did, because what we are now is what I feel we’re meant to be.

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