I chose to start this intimate writing piece by intentionally letting you know where I’m at now. I let you know in Part I that ‘it took me a series of wrong turns and valleys to point me to the most beautiful place I’ve ever been’. I did that because that’s what we all really want, and it’s what I want you to know if you’re going through a hard time; despite and in spite of everything, it’s going to be ok; you’re going to be ok. Unfortunately, real time can’t be retrospective. We all just do the best we can, when we can, and hope that we will be fine.
Going through my storms, that’s what I hoped for, that I would be fine. Some days were easier than others to believe it.
As I type there is so much I want to say, but whether or not we like it, our lives are shared with others, and some of the things I’d love to tell you about, out of respect for prior and present relationships, I won’t. Take my word for it though when I say, my life became a lifetime movie. Like a really bad one. Actually, you don’t even have to take my word; I’ve had enough people walk up to me and say it. A spectacle. The whole situation was one of those train wrecks people couldn’t look away from. And really not of my own making but as I said, our lives are shared with other people, that’s what makes a world; unfortunately, just because you see an end to your particular starring role in someone’s life, everyone else doesn’t follow suit. That meant that in the process of closing a five year long chapter and trying to start a new one, I was being captured in the tide an epilogue I wanted no parts of. It actually threatened to drown my existence…but God!
We all see age 30 as this kind of new dawn. I distinctly remember sitting at lunch in secondary school with friends and talking about the age we wanted to be married at, have children at. For most people that age was 30. Has never been for me. All I knew was that at 30 I wanted to be in love and to complete some major career goals. I wanted to be married to, and have children with, the ‘right’ person, at the ‘right’ time, whenever that was. Two months after my break-up was my 30th birthday, I wasn’t in love but I was on the way career wise.
I’m not going to sit here and act as if that relationship coming apart didn’t move me or better yet shake me to my core. I think anytime you part ways with someone, romantic or otherwise, it is important to mourn and to evaluate. And mourn I did, for what had passed and the revelations that came in the aftermath. But even in mourning, I knew there was better on the horizon, a different kind of happiness, which made me excited to turn 30. This is a direct quote from an Instagram post I made on my birthday.
‘I enter my 30s proud of the woman I am…my experiences, my strengths, triumphs and ‘defeats’, blessings in storms, laughter, tears…today I celebrate life’
But truthfully, shortly before my 30thbirthday, something else happened. I lost a friend. No, no one died, but our friendship did. If it has never happened to you, well let me tell you…first of all, good for you, and second of all, it’s the worst pain. Maybe if our friendship had come to an end because it had run it’s natural course it wouldn’t have been so painful, but it ended because someone’s lies at the time overpowered the truth, which then left me facing heartbreak #2 in the space of just over two months.
Now I know that may seem like a ramble and by now you’re asking yourself, ‘how does this tie into self-love?’…well, because a big part of not loving ourselves is allowing people to validate us and tell us who we are. Sadly, I did it without even realising.
I started to doubt myself, the two months of strides I had made fell back. If friends who I knew and loved could believe lies so easily and in some cases help propagate them, wouldn’t everyone? Did everyone secretly think I was ‘playing pretend at perfection’? And I cried and cried and cried. Celebrated my birthday, and then cried some more. This had now become bigger than losing a relationship, I had now become ostracized from a group of people I loved for lies, lies that were totally contradictory to everything I am.
While I prayed that my character would speak louder than words (which it ended up doing, thank God!), the first instinct was defend my self with the truth, but how? The high road was the only road I knew how to travel. I was so intensely private and maintained that throughout the maelstrom and circus that was building around me. Did I now go against my principles? I couldn’t. It wasn’t me and I just couldn’t. I sought the counsel of the like-minded people in my life. One person sent me this passage:
So I stood still for my salvation and the energy it would have taken to engage people, I turned it to myself.
I was on vacation and can distinctly recall sitting on the floor of Barnes and Nobles immersing myself in self-help books. You know the ones I mean, the ‘how–to-turn-the-worst-experiences-of-your-life-into-the-best-experiences-of-your-life’ sort of books. I started journaling from the flight back home, I immersed myself in positive self-talk, I kept a list of affirmations in my car, I cut my hair, continued on the fitness journey I had already started and was smashing, found hobbies, travelled to new countries…in the space of a few months, I got to really know the woman I was. There are three other things I did that stood out the most.
#1 I reconnected with my family and friends.
Sometimes we can focus so much on what we’ve lost that we neglect to see what has been there all along. Now I’ve always loved my family, but the way I got to know them last year was different. And everything can’t be explained but it was different. It was beautiful. They were my ultimate squad. And let’s talk about friends. I never wanted to experience the seasons of change in friendship. Gosh! I still think about the friendships that I lost or that changed because of one situation. To be honest, it hurt me more than anything else that happened that year, and that says a lot, but…they are some people that showed up with my family, I call them Helium, (taken from a Sia song). Those friends were there all hours of the day, they just wouldn’t let me carry my burdens alone. Some of them were newer friends, but some of them were friends I had all along, friends that were waiting for me to return ‘home’ so to speak, like a prodigal daughter, and as I type this I hope I have let all these people know what they mean to me.
#2 I realized that people need boundaries, so I got some.
What I mentioned before about putting others before yourself is all good and well BUT, you can’t pour from an empty vessel fam. That kind of intensity and fierceness you devote to others, give it to yourself! And that includes letting people know what is and what is not acceptable. I’ll say it, some things that happened in past relationships, romantic and otherwise, I am partially accountable for. Why? Because I allowed it, even if sub-consciously so. By allowing people to do what they wish and then covering it with a cloud of forgiveness or suppressing the way things make you feel, sometimes gives people a license to think that it will always be that way. It never crosses their mind that they can lose you, but forgiveness doesn’t equal acceptance. Likewise, being nice and being assertive aren’t mutually exclusive and somewhere along the line I thought so without realizing. Being assertive, isn’t being a bitch. I repeat, being assertive is NOT being a bitch. I had to learn that. And sometimes I do trip, I overdo on the too nice and forget to set boundaries; I sometimes even cry over that thinking that all of a sudden I’ll revert to the old person I was and get hurt in the same ways, but I’m a far way from the girl I used to be and forever a work in progress.
#3 I smashed every career goal I set for 30! *happy dance* #twirlonthat
Life is unpredictable, this we know, but in spite of any setbacks, hurdles, never forget your purpose and what you want to accomplish. I knew what I wanted and nothing was stopping that grind. The career opportunities that flowed immediately since then, icing on a nice, decadent chocolate cake.
It’s 2018 now and I’m happy and healthy. The kind of happy that when I’m sitting alone at home on my sofa I smile, just because. Ask me again…do I love myself? ‘Yes! Duh! Can’t you tell?’ I love the parts of me I even thought were unlovable, because we all have to love ourselves for where we are, while we do the work that it takes to evolve into who we want to be. About those fickle little insecurities I mentioned before: I love my size, acne where bish?, my nose is cute and to describe my complexion…well see, take some dark chocolate and pour some honey in…keep pouring…keep pouring and don’t forget stir…does it look like perfection? Ok, then…you’ve got it.
Flaws and all…let me get my crown! This is who I am. My never-ending journey to self love. My never-ending journey to me. Hope this inspires you on your own journey.
Author’s Note:Soundtrack to the 2017 and forever ‘Long Live the Angels (Deluxe version)’ Emelie Sande.
Keep breathing underwater. ❤
I believe in miracles
Cause it’s a miracle I’m here
Guess you could call me spiritual
Cause physical is fear
And it’s safe to say the storms gone away
And I’m dancing on the morning after
Yes I’d love to stay, but my home is the other way
And I miss the love and laughter
Something like flying
Hard to describe it
My God, I’m breathing underwater
Something like freedom, freedom
My God, I’m breathing underwater
-Breathing Underwater by Emeli Sande