Soon after Terrence and I started dating, I shared with him that if we would have met 2 years before, there’s no way that we would have worked out. We had both gone through some kind of serious relationship challenges, and while his had left him nervous and tentative about love, mine had left me bitter and mad. Add to that feelings of inadequacy that I had stemming from my childhood, and I was just an angry, angry woman. Even more than being upset with those around me, I was mad at myself. I was my own worse enemy. I started to believe that I didn’t deserve more than what I had, didn’t think I was worth of love or respect, I was my very own foe. I made decisions that were counterproductive to my success because I just…I don’t know, y’all, I was just a mess. I was carrying around so much baggage through most of my twenties, I still marvel at the fact that I made it through them.
Okay, so what changed? How did I go from a life filled with self-sabotaging decisions, to one filled with love and acceptance? Well, Ayva happened. When I was pregnant with her, I realized that I couldn’t be an effective mother to her with all that lingering crap hovering over my life. After one particularly draining experience, I decided pretty definitively that I was ready to do better, I had to do better, for Ayva, and for Brandi. Seriously, going through the journey of becoming a mother gave me the strength to get my life together. I sometimes wish my story was that I was strong enough to do it on my own, but I wasn’t, and I don’t want to lie to y’all. I couldn’t do it for myself, but I could do it for my unborn child. I started to forgive myself, and started advocating for Ayva, and for myself, both internally and to others.
By the time love entered my life in the form of Terrence not even 2 years later, I was ready. I wasn’t looking for love, but I wasn’t blocking it either, like I would have done in my previous life. I loved myself, and even though there were still areas of myself that were still (are still) broken, at least I was able to be in a relationship as an ally, rather than a foe. When Terrence and I disagree, I’m able to deal with the real issue, rather than some made up stuff that my former self would cook up in an effort to complicate and sabotage things. Instead of letting a situation go to the point where I feel disrespected or not heard, I can address it before it becomes a problem because I think, I know, I deserve to be treated with dignity and love.
My experience with learning to love myself is an ongoing journey. I have a ways to go, but I still attribute it to being one of the reasons Terrence and I were able to have a great relationship, and eventually get married. If I was still working against myself, there’s no way we’d be here. I wasn’t able to be a friend to myself, let alone a wife to someone else. I’m not trying to be one of those relationship expert folks that make it seem like they have all of the answers because they’ve been married for 30 days (Happy Anniversary to me!). I just know that while you don’t have to be all the way healed to find love and happiness, you do have to believe that you deserve it. Otherwise, it won’t last. Your inner foe won’t let it last. And I believe we all deserve long-lasting love. Even me.