In the name of my love ...


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Photo: Allef Vinicius.

How to apprehend this day of Valentine's Day when it is exterminated? All store windows, all magazines are like so many injunctions to show our love for each other ... Why the other? And if one simply chose to celebrate oneself? Remember that the person who really has the power to make us happy is us? Testimonies of women in love with their own lives. - Isabelle Cerboneschi.

She's a longtime friend. We have known each other for twenty years. We met in Paris last January during fashion shows. We had not seen each other for several months. "You're resplendent," she told me sweetly. I tell him that I have not been so happy for a long time. "Did you meet a man? She asks me. And suddenly, I feel anger rising in me, like the sap of a volcano, slow but devastating. It hurts me, but I do not know why. His words were innocuous though. My reaction was not. I grumbled that no, that I was just happy to be free, and I continued doing what I had come to do in this place. Anger and more.

It was later, much later that I understood: for this friend, happiness could only come from another, man or woman, according to our sexual orientations. It seemed perfectly normal to be deprived of the greatest power in the world - that of making us happy - and to offer it to another human who would have crossed our path. By her question, she told me that this dispossession was in the order of things and it was unbearable. For this power to make happy, and its corollary, the power to render unhappy, is far too powerful to entrust to someone other than oneself.

This perception of a woman with bright eyes and a radiant face because she is in love is too often out of step with reality. "For many people, being happy means having a man in your life, even if things are changing," says Valérie Dana, director of the beautiful Spanish magazine. The Rosa Vida dedicated to women with cancer. It is certain that having someone who loves us is a plus, but can this be the only reason for us, women, to be fulfilled? Of course not, and that goes for men too. "

She says, "I worked for months on the launch of the magazine called Rose at that time, but it was top secret. I worked in the advertising world where only creative teams had the right to be creative ... Thanks to my project, I was rocked by a mixture of excitement and exhaustion. But above all I had to continue to work without anyone suspecting my ancillary activities. My boss, with whom I got along well, seeing myself arriving with a big smile every time I went to the office, asked me one day if I was in love because my eyes were shining ... "

The younger generations understand better than their elders this discordance between the fable that is made believe women since they were children, the happiness that would necessarily pass through a husband, and the reality: "A hundred years ago, the the only possibility for women to change their status, or to be "happy", was to get married. But this prejudice persists even if society has changed, "says Cléo Bennoun, 24, who is preparing a Master at the Copenhagen Business School.

"I grew up watching Walt Disney cartoons where all happy endings meant that the heroine found a husband," she continues. I grew up listening to my grandparents tell me their love story: they were married at a very young age, at a time when the only job a girl could aspire to was "perfect housewife" ". My grandmother gave up her dream of studying medicine because she could not be a woman, a mother and a student at the same time. Would becoming a doctor make her happier than she was? She will never know it. It took me a long time to understand that all the cartoons, all the movies I had watched did not reflect what I hoped my life would become. They did not fit my own vision of happiness, even though everyone around me wanted me to believe that I was wrong. "

"It's the fact of having left a situation, a person, that made me happy. I have less, but I have more. Every morning I wake up in the fullness of the present moment. "

Happiness, since it is towards it that everything tends, can be amplified by a "plus" - a relationship - but it can also be generated by a "less": an unpleasant situation that we get rid of, a weight that we is off, a toxic person who leaves our life. And these "gaps", instead of depopulating and diminishing our lives, make it richer, lighter, and more serene as well. This is what happened to Sandrine Viboud-Wiegandt, an optician from father to daughter, who has just realized her dream: become independent and open her own eyewear shop in Carouge: "To the happiness of the eyes". Moreover, the word happiness is entirely in his sign. "It's the fact of having left a situation, a person, that made me happy. I have less, but I have more. Every morning I wake up in the fullness of the present moment: I am happy in the moment. It's magic!".

"I think we need to differentiate the desire of women to be respected in their activities, to have the same wage rights as men and their desire to have more intimate relationships, says Valérie Dana. The figure of the protective man does not displease me personally, if it does not encroach on my freedom. The role of women has changed in society; they are able to flourish through their work without the presence of a man by their side. But that does not mean that they turn their backs on love, quite the opposite. They dream that a man really loves them, that is to say without false lies. "

Even today, despite the evolution of society and mentalities, in Western countries, girls are raised in the illusion of happiness, a happiness that passes necessarily by a man. "I was raised in the Jewish religion," says Cléo Bennoun. At religious school, on Sunday, we were taught that to be happy, we had to become housewives, learn how to make bread, to hold a house and to dress in a certain way to make a man happy. These ideals never made sense to me, but unconsciously, I thought that if I wanted to become a good wife, I had to learn to do all that. But I also knew that I wanted to travel, to discover the world, to make a career, to achieve goals, to realize dreams, but all that did not seem to correspond to the future that I was supposed to have as a woman aspiring to happiness. For me today, getting married at 24 would be the end of my world! "

"As long as a woman does not see herself as the goddess she is, she will never be happy"

"When I went to the United States at the age of 16, I started experimenting with makeup and some way of dressing," she says. I wanted to draw a portrait of a pretty girl, but for the wrong reasons. I wanted to get the boys attention because I knew that if I found a boyfriend, I would be happy. That was what happened in all the TV shows I watched! But no man has brought me happiness. They could make me feel sexy and desirable, but as long as a woman does not see herself as the goddess she is, she will never be happy, even if 50 men line up at her door to tell her how beautiful she is. I spent a year with my ex boyfriend and never being with him made me happier than I already was: traveling to a country I did not know, getting my driver's license, moving in in a new apartment, it made me just as happy. "

To respect oneself, to love oneself will bring us closer to happiness much better than any other relationship will know how to do. Many men or women will pass through our lives, but we have only one "I".

"Now I live in Copenhagen and in Danish culture, men and women share the same responsibilities towards the home, the family, and their relations seem much healthier than the ones I experienced before, says Cléo Bennoun. Happiness in this country does not mean finding the perfect partner. For friends of my age, happiness is to get a diploma, go out with friends, be independent, buy their first apartment ... We create our own happiness, aware that not all women can experience this in the world today. "

"I am very lucky to be able to live in countries where women are perceived (almost) as equal to men in all aspects of their lives. Yes, a partner can make you happier, in the same way that your family or friends can, but this person can not be the one and only reason for our happiness. To respect oneself, to love oneself will bring us closer to happiness much better than any other relationship will know how to do. Many men or women will pass through our lives, but we have only one "I". And this being that we are, we must cherish, love, and from there, to choose what our happiness can look like. "

I listened without interrupting this young woman 24 years put words on all my feelings, giving me a lesson in memorable happiness. A few hours later, I pushed the door of the gallery Krisal, in Carouge, which exhibits the works of the photographer Charly Schwartz gone in the footsteps of the painter Ferdinand Hodler. Christine Ventouras, the director of the gallery came to me, all smiles. "You are radiant," she said. In love? I waited a few seconds before answering him: "Yes, I'm in love with my life. "

Photo: Brittney Burnett.

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