“I’m havin’ a private party
Learning how to love me
Celebrating the woman I’ve become”
-India Arie “Private Party”
Today marks the beginning of chapter 31 in my life and I’m celebrating it without being surrounded by loved ones like I initially planned. As we all know “Rona” has cancelled Aries season, so I’m celebrating at home while quarantined. At first I was disappointed, but the closer it got to today I found peace in the “private party” I was planning. So much has changed for me lately and I couldn’t let everything going on in the world distract me from the the shift taking place in my life. Just weeks before my 31st birthday, I signed papers that would close the door to a challenging, yet necessary chapter in my story. People keep asking me how I feel. Am I sad? Am I anxious? Do I have any regrets? I answer them all with one simple word…No. I am excited. Life has been a journey of twists and turns and while things are still not perfect, I finally feel like I’m getting back on solid ground. I am finally able to see the beauty and necessity of my journey and that alone gives me a reason to celebrate. I am walking into a new season and this celebration of life marks the beginning of the best days of my life.
It’s no secret I spent my latter years in a relationship that I like to describe as the best and worst times of my life. No hard feelings to my ex. We were two broken people trying to figure out this thing called love and it just didn’t work. I’ll tell anyone who asks, I have no regrets and while I made some of the dumbest mistakes, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today had I not experienced that relationship. Things officially ended in 2018 and between that, my aunt and grandma dying within less than six months of each other, I’d say my life pretty much fell apart (in my mind). I was angry. I was depressed. I was in denial. I was grieving and I was grieving bad. Sadness consumed me and while I smiled and continued on with life as usual, I honestly felt like I was dying on the inside. I don’t remember what clicked inside of me, but I remember not wanting to be sad anymore. I really just wanted to be happy. 2019 began and while I didn’t have exciting plans to bring in the new year or a long list of resolutions, I made a promise to myself to begin living my best life.
I didn’t know where to start on my journey. I sought advice from my dad, started praying, meditating and reading self help books until I found my foundation for change. I started with speaking life to myself. It sounds simple, but honestly it wasn’t. I pretty much had to tell myself things I did not believe or know to be true until I saw them become true in my life. It was one of the most difficult things to do because it wasn’t until this journey began that I realized how broken and damaged I was. I felt like I was lying to myself, but the more I practiced speaking positive affirmations to myself, the more I believed it and felt better inside. Speaking life to my circumstances became a way of life for me. I won’t act like everyday was or is a beautiful walk in the park because some days I literally have to talk myself off the ledge (figuratively), but because my cup is filled with self love and motivation, it becomes easier to redirect every negative thought that fills my mind from time to time. Every morning I begin each day reminding my self I am beautiful. I am confident. I am deserving of love. I am successful. Sometimes it’s as simple as reminding myself that I am ok and that is good enough to get me through whatever I am experiencing at the time.
Affirmations got easier, but something still did not feel right. I began reflecting on my relationships with others, specifically men, and noticed an ongoing trend. When I began dating, every guy I ever developed any deep feelings for seemed to be the same. I attracted broken men and constantly settled for less out of fear of rejection. One day I was listening to a YouTube sermon and heard a pastor say “you can’t heal what you won’t reveal.” I probably nodded my head and maybe even said a little “amen” when I heard that quote, but it wasn’t until I read the same words on someone’s Facebook post that it stuck with me. Sometimes we tell ourselves we are healed from certain situations, but what really happens is we sweep the issues/trauma under the rug until they manifest in other areas of our lives and we call it something other than what it truly is. That was me. I had years of unresolved childhood trauma due to my abandonment issues from my mom leaving me as a small child and being inconsistent/non-existent in the rest of my life. I never knew how to handle it or even how to identify it, so eventually it took root in other parts of me. Many people talk about “daddy issues” when it comes to forming unhealthy relationships, but who really mentions “mommy issues”? The feelings of rejection I felt after my mom left showed up in my dating life which often led to me ignoring obvious red flags in my relationships. It’s crazy how my journey to healing from my relationship led to my journey to healing my unresolved issues with my mother’s absence. Me and my mom still don’t have much of a relationship other than a text or two throughout the year, but my love for her has helped me acknowledge her own life struggles and accept her for who she is without expectations.
After I began dealing with the things of my past, I felt like I was ready to jump back out there and date again. Boy was I wrong. I remember hanging out with a guy and just not feeling comfortable. It wasn’t anything that he did or didn’t do, it was all me. I felt fat and definitely did not feel sexy. It was weird because I’ve always been a big girl, but this time it was different. For the first time I felt insecure and realized my self-confidence was gone. Between 2016 and 2017 I gained at least 50 lbs in a matter of months because of PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and since then my weight has continued to fluctuate. I did not really notice the impact it had on me emotionally until I was driving to work one day and started crying because I just didn’t like the way I looked. The sadness and disgust I felt when I looked in the mirror was uncommon for me and I knew I needed a change. I made the decision to eat better and started working out more. I did that for a few months and was pretty consistent for a while before falling off, but I didn’t beat myself up about it. Again, those affirmations really helped me get to this point, but I also personified 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 daily and began to love myself the way God loves me. I learned how to love and accept me no matter what the scale said and my self-confidence began to increase day by day. I felt beautiful again. I felt free. I loved all my chocolate goodness and it showed in the way I carried myself. I stopped putting myself down and made daily efforts to build me up. I FELL BACK IN LOVE WITH ME and it feels amazing! Besides, I couldn’t even begin to fathom the idea of falling in love with someone else again until I genuinely learned how to love myself.
Today I can’t “turn up” up or celebrate like I want to, but I choose to celebrate the way I DESERVE to. I celebrate every obstacle I’ve overcome, every failure, every setback and every victory I’ve ever won. This hasn’t been an easy journey, but I made it. God has favored me and when he could have let me fall by the wayside, he carried me. I am forever grateful for his love. I am grateful for his grace and mercy during times when I did not deserve it. In my previous seasons I’ve allowed fear and defeat to dictate my life. But today, I choose freedom. I choose to live. I choose me!
“Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to me. Happy birthday”