Rihanna‘s free spirit of being her authentic self, flaws and all, is partly why her navy is over 24 million deep on Twitter. Above all, the 24-year-old Barbadian beauty is relatable. Last night Rihanna’s interview with Oprah for OWN’s Next Chapter humanized her in a way that very few journalists can do like Oprah. Her transparency about her life, her mistakes, was nothing short of commendable. It made me like her even more. Yet there were times the interview was difficult to watch.
Outside of her massive success–highest digital selling artist in history with 50 million downloads–people were most curious about her past and present status with Chris Brown. The Queen of daytime talk shows used her magical interviewing skills to get Rihanna to open up about what many of us had already suspected–she still loved Chris.
“We’ve been working on our friendship again and now we are very close friends,” she told Oprah. “We’ve built our trust again. We love each other and we will probably always will. That’s not anything you can change or shut off if you’ve ever been in love.”
After the two collaborated on the remix for “Birthday Cake” there was much speculation that the two were an item again. The cryptic messages she’d post on Twitter and Instagram led others to echo that notion. Her revelations about her feelings last night are something many women (and perhaps men) can relate to. Certainly she’s entitled to her feelings for Chris Brown despite what any of us think about it. As she said regarding the 2009 abuse that changed her life, “I was hurt the most.” Therefore it would be disingenuous to tell her how she should feel. That, however, doesn’t stop us from having our own opinions.
To talk about Rihanna’s relationship with Chris one must examine her relationship with her father. He was abusive to her mother and battled substance abuse. The connection to her childhood and why she can’t move past Chris Brown after three years is apparent. Mix in the fact Chris was her first love and the relationship ended abruptly and you have exactly what Rihanna is describing. “It’s awkward [when I see him] because I still love him. My stomach drops and I have to maintain this poker face and not let it get to the outer part of me. I have to maintain that and suppress it and interpret it and understand it. And understand that that’s not going to go away. That is peaceful. When you don’t understand those feelings you can make a lot of mistakes.”
My immediate reaction to hearing her revelations was that Rihanna has yet to heal from her childhood experiences and the intimate partner abuse she experienced with Chris Brown. Add in the loneliness of fame and wanting to be with someone she can’t have–she’s clearly hurting.
What tugged at me most about her feelings for her first love was how his happiness mostly takes precedence over her own. “I truly love him so the main thing for me is that he’s at peace. I’m not at peace if he’s a little unhappy or he’s still lonely. I care. It actually matters that he finds that peace.” But does he care about her peace? Is her love for him reciprocated? I want to reach out to hug her, explain to her that her first love is not her last love, that she deserves something that is not dysfunctional. Thankfully she’s young, and intuitive. And as Oprah says, she’ll have her “aha moment” on her own time. Not a minute sooner.