I think it’s safe to say that 2020 was kind of a shitshow.  For multiple reasons, humanity across the board was ready for a fresh start.  Personally, the end of 2020 was the catalyst for change and self-discovery.  I was dating my partner for several months.  Everything was great, but what “honeymoon phase” isn’t?  We were completely love drunk.  We spent every minute together, and dove in like a cannonball very quickly.  We had keys to each other’s places, Christmas shopped together, stayed at each other’s places all the time, and had date night’s all the time.  However, all it takes is one bad night with an argument (he made a bad choice that jeopardized our relationship), and all of the red flags that I was ignoring shot up in the air like fireworks.  I realized that our communication was lacking big time.  I realized that I was giving and giving and giving, but from a place of insecurity that I would be abandoned.  It clicked that I had given up myself in many ways in the relationship.

I made the choice to break things off, and even through the break up – I launched the codependency behavior I learned from my mother.  I would try to text and see how he was.  I would try to explain myself and my reasons why.  Looking back, I wish I could have slapped myself in those moments.  Then, one day I made the choice to start to heal.  I made the choice to tell myself that I am worthy of a partner who wants to fight for the relationship, to fight for me, and to be strong enough to weather the storms in life together as partners.  I made a list of ten affirmations and hung them up in my bathroom (these affirmations still remain there today).  I got a tattoo of a crown on my wrist to remind me that I am a king; that I am royalty and will not settle for anything less than the best.  I leaned in to my two best friend’s for support and strength.  I took myself on coffee dates, and started to reconnect with myself in a way I never have before.  I made the choice to treat myself like someone I loved.  I started to love myself for the first time in my entire life.

This will be an on-going journey, trust me.  But it’s a journey that I think a lot of us neglect or are afraid to vulnerable enough to take.  I wake up every day and look in the mirror and tell myself three things: 1) Good morning, handsome!, 2) I love you so, so much!, and 3) Have an amazing day, buddy!.  I tell myself these three specific things because this is what I yearned for from a companion to tell me.  These three specific things have provided the opportunity and the space to lean into myself, and in fact, learn to love myself.  It’s so true when they say it’s impossible to love someone else when you can’t love yourself; a lesson that 20221 will hopefully continue to solidify within me.

Below is the list of the affirmations that I have hung up in my bathroom, and I can’t stress enough how much I encourage you to do the same.

  • I am worthy of happiness.
  • I am worthy of love.
  • I am a strong, gay, Christian.
  • I am choosing to be happy.
  • I am talented.
  • I am confident in who I am.
  • I accept who I am and who I was created to be.
  • I am attractive and healthy.
  • I am funny, supportive, and kind.
  • I will not settle for mediocre relationships.
  • I am willing to fall in love again.
  • I am stronger than my past.
  • I am not codependent. I am a king.
  • I am an amazing teacher.
  • I am fearlessly & unapologetically authentic.

Now, some of these you might be able to lean into yourself.  However, the one I want to focus on is “I am willing to fall in love again.”  This is a big one for me, as growing up in a divorced household, I learned to guard my heart and build very strong walls at an early age.  I’ve gotten hurt many times, and trust broken more times that I can count.  With that being said, something amazing happens when you choose to lean into that specific affirmation, when you pray it so fearlessly to God, when you truly start to believe it.  I met someone new.  Someone who truly takes my breath away.  Someone who makes me feel strong, and safe, and confident in myself.  Someone who looks into my eyes and sees my soul, both beautiful and broken.  Someone who respects me and honors me enough to say, “let’s take this slow, because I feel like this could be something real.” 

Now, keep in mind that this is very early in this “relationship”. And he could be “the one” or not.  That’s not the point.  The point is, even though I could be moving to a Chicago in seven months, we both have been hurt in the past, that we honor each other and believe in love enough to see where this goes…to lean in.  When we stop making excuses, we start taking chances on ourselves, we hand over our situations to God, and we start living as our true authentic self – taking that leap doesn’t feel as terrifying.  Regardless of if we land on our feet or on our ass, as can sleep well knowing that we gave it our all…that we chose to live rather than cower.

I have no idea what this year will bring.  There is a lot of “new”.  I do know that I am going to continue to put on my armor every day, to follow my dreams of moving back to Chicago and teaching, to choose to fall in love whenever I can, and to be unapologetically myself no matter who has an issue with it, to be proud to be who God made me.  I challenge you to sit and reflect on if you truly love and value yourself.  If so, how are you showing it and communicating it to yourself, and if not, to ask yourself “why?” and begin to heal in your own way.  Taking the time to do this work is definitely the road less traveled for the majority of us.  It’s uncomfortable.  It’s honest.  It forces you to be fragile and vulnerable.  You know what?  It’s also worth it.  It teaches you to dive in to parts of yourself that have been dormant, and to reignite the fire to be you.  So, go…Live…Laugh…Love.  But start with yourself.