I remember the series of events I am about to share with you as if it were yesterday. I moved to Atlanta in the Fall of 1996 after spending the summer with my boyfriend's family at the Summer Olympics. I had fallen head over heels in love with everything Georgia had to offer. The weather, the people, and the smells were all infectious. I was 23 and felt as if I could rule the world, yet I knew nothing about the world at that time and what would happen next. The choice had already been made in my mind. We were moving. Our parents asked what we were doing, and we looked bewildered. What do you mean? We are moving and we are in love. Aren't we??? But we had no idea about the meaning of true love and all that it meant.
As we settled into our first apartment in Georgia it was something brand new and such an adventure. If you asked me at the time how I felt I would without hesitation say it was the best time of my life. It was different, it was exciting and I felt a new level of freedom I had never felt before. Time continued to move forward as it always does. The excitement fades, bills are due and life happens. I started working and met new people that led the way to interesting conversations and new ideas. Suddenly I felt a sense of empowerment that I couldn't wait to share with my boyfriend.
I love myself!
And the arguments started from there. He went on and on about how loving yourself was stupid and a very conceited way to think. I mean after all, who walks around saying they love who they are and shares that with others? With my head between my legs like a scolded puppy, it would be over 20 years before I uttered those words again. When you share a part of your life with someone you expect certain things. You want to know how they feel about your day and the things that happened within it. How does this outfit look on me, babe? Does it make me look super skinny or a bit chunky? I want to change my hairstyle, what do you think? And the question that wins the award for the 'most asked' when you are in the process of finding yourself is, do you love me? If so, tell me why you love me.
Stepping through life can be rough. There are many hills to climb and battles that we must endure at times. Not one person's journey is the same as another's. At times it might feel as though you have received the short end of the stick. Or as they say, you are 'the low man on the totem pole'. We are taught to believe that being on top is the most important and if you aren't, then in some way you have failed. What a feeling to know you aren't as great as others, right?! No, it's so wrong and quite the opposite.
The most important teaching in life is the ability to love one's self. Not someone else first, it all starts with you!
Within a year of moving to Georgia, my boyfriend and I decided to part ways. We seemed to argue more than we discussed the future and the tears were a constant between the both of us. What was the point if it was going to be this way? We attempted to grow up together and went about it in the wrong way. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done. My emotional and mental state of being was programmed to believe in some ways the man was always right and I should submit to his way of thinking. So, that's exactly what I did.
I've watched many shows and heard people speak about how to find yourself and know the moment it happens. I always admired those who seemed to have an abundance of self-confidence and spunk and wondered when I would join the ranks of people like them. I began to have my doubts as it had been years and I still didn't have this magical feeling I kept hearing about. Hope faded and I gave in to accepting this was just how it was meant to be.
There were other boyfriends, strange relationships, and situations that would come and go. Approaching 40, I suddenly felt old. You can laugh, I just did! I know that is the furthest from the truth, however, I was still stuck in my 23-year-old brain. I realized that there hadn't been much progression because of my mental state and what I allowed myself to believe.
Six years had passed just like that, and it felt like a blur. It also felt as if God had flicked the light switch in the permanent 'I love myself and I should' position and I began to feel a change from within. And just like that, I knew my moment had arrived. Feelings of not being enough, not being worthy of love, and releasing hurt and pain were leaving my body as if they knew they were no longer welcome. Change doesn't happen overnight, although it would certainly be nice. Reflection is natural, you wonder what could have been done differently, however, you accept what was and is. Lessons of life are only worthwhile when you apply them and allow the universe to simply do what it's meant to do.
Mental health is as important as physical health, if not more. We are what we eat, well, we are what we think. The ability to empower yourself and stand with that conviction is the sign of a strong person. When you begin to love who you are from within your entire vision will change. You will enter into this next amazing phase of your life and learn to accept only the best. Embracing what feels right and what meshes with your state of being. Relationships will change, and some will end. People will notice there is nothing they can do to sway you in any other direction that is not of love and positivity.
I think back on my 20's and at times I laugh. Reminiscing on how it all started, and accepting and loving how it will forever go from here on out.
"Don't forget to tell yourself positive things daily! You must love yourself internally to glow externally -Hannah Bronfman"
"This is how you do it; you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it's done. It's that easy, and that hard." -Neil Gaiman