“I will not be ‘famous,’ ‘great.’ I will go on adventuring, changing, opening my mind and my eyes, refusing to be stamped and stereotyped. The thing is to free one’s self: to let it find its dimensions, not be impeded.”
― Virginia Woolf,
Freedom. It took many years and plenty of breakdowns to get here. However, I have learned to appreciate everything in life and never complain about things, but pray about everything.
It took a rather extensive duration to conceptualize that any trauma I endured over the years was of no fault of my own. I have always possessed a compassionate and caring heart. It is my own feeling that this was somewhat of a catalyst for the individuals who aimed to take advantage of me. In my years of youth and naivety, I assumed that everyone was being as forthcoming as I am. I still have night terrors of the sexual assaults and endless flashbacks of people I used to referred to as my family, that used love as a weapon. Those people will never be in my life, ever. I deserve better, I always did. Part of achieving happiness meant taking responsibility. I know, I couldn’t control being raped or severe abuse that I received as a child, but I could choose to not allow it to rule my life. It hasn’t, and instead I choose to empower others.
I had to learn to let go so that I may live.
I know it’s easier said than done, especially on those nights that I am so afraid to close my eyes that I panic. I tell me myself that “this too shall pass” and eventually it does, but sometimes it doesn’t. However, I don’t blame myself when it doesn’t pass as quickly as I would like it to but instead, I pray.
Acceptance. The key to freedom is acceptance. It is when we attempt to control every aspect of our lives or we allow our pride to speak for us, that we imprison ourselves. When you come to accept that every match will not play out in your favor, and the fact that you cannot control what people think/do, you’ve made steps to releasing yourself. I can’t control what people do or how people perceive me and I accept that. You have to care more so you can care less. I’m not perfect and I make mistakes but I accept those mistakes as stepping stones and gained wisdom.
I decided to be still, and in that I made insurmountable movement. An emerging epiphany that if I dedicated another hour or moment blaming myself or consuming thoughts about the past or grim future that it would result in an emotional suicide. It’s the notion that every moment we spend worrying about the past, we negate the future.
Loving Yourself. Learning to love again meant loving myself first. It’s strange that I even had to go through a process of allowing myself to do so. It had been so foreign to me that it felt wrong. Everything I ever thought I knew about love was wrong. When I first escaped, one of the first people I met was my now best friend, Mo. I remember we met days before my birthday at church. She came up to me, said “hello” and has never stopped talking. She asked me “what are you doing for your birthday?” I replied “nothing” so she said “come over.” To be perfectly honest, I didn’t know what was going to happen, but when I arrived she had purchased me balloons, a cake, and she had cooked a beautiful dinner. I broke down and cried for about 15 minutes, I was so embarrassed. No one had ever done anything for me on my birthday, ever. I was so used to always doing, doing, pleasing, going out of my way for everyone else, that when someone finally sat down and DID for me, I couldn’t believe it.
I had to learn how to “do for me” and I have. Understanding who I am in God helps me to never make the mistake of caring who I am in the eyes of all the people in the world. Learning to love again means know your worth and never settling for less. Regardless, if those people in my life were loving me the “best way they knew how,” I deserved more. Love is kind, Love is grace, but most importantly, love is never abuse. I will not compromise my integrity and grace for anyone. Sometimes, I think we forget that in order to be loved, you don’t have to give anything but yourself. It doesn’t require losing yourself and proving that you’re worth loving.
You are enough, no additional apps or filters required. If you’re in a situation where your self-esteem diminishes based on someone else’s approval, then it’s time you learn to love again.
Happiness. It is normal to lose ourselves in relationships and even in break-ups. We are human and we are deeply flawed. The key here is to never sacrifice your happiness in order to keep a relationship going. Aren’t your partners and friends supposed to make you happy? So then why are we losing our happiness to appear happy on the surface? Think about it.
Life is too short to be unhappy. It’s easier to walk away when you know you did everything you could. If the person couldn’t see your worth, then they never deserved you. You deserve happiness, and don’t ever let anyone tell you differently.
Safe. It’s such a complicated word. I used to change my phone number every few weeks when I was trying to escape an abuser. I never felt that word: safe. I can proudly say, that I feel safer now than I have ever felt in my life. It feels good.
Forgiveness. I forgive all people who have not done right by me. Do I expect or require an apology? No. I wouldn’t hold my breath nor does it matter. I don’t need anyone’s permission to move on with my life. Neither do you.
Let Them Talk. I have never been one to follow any crowd. I’m a leader and I will always be. I have learned that being leader requires the ability to listen and an on-going practice of patience. I think Stephen Hawking said it best, “The thing about smart people is that they seem like crazy people to dumb people.” When you step up and go against the norm, people will question your sanity. I have learned not to take it personally because ignorance is bliss.
It is also true that some people just do not want to hear the truth, so it’s easier to just call someone crazy or be rude. Some people are intentionally NOT self-aware; that’s why some people never change. There are those who do not like to feel “inadequate.” For example, in high school you have those “mean girls” who pick on smart girls and call them
“crazy” or “weird” because they do not feel smart themselves. The point is, even as hard as it may seem when people are rude to you or do not treat you kindly, it has NOTHING to do with you. It says more about them than it ever will about you. This is why it is essential to know who you are and love yourself. I speak my mind without requiring validation and practice daily forgiveness because I know what God says about me. I’m the apple of His eye.
The right people will people come into your life, but you have to be patient. Everyone doesn’t see the same thing in a painting, just like everyone doesn’t hear every lyric in a song. You just have wait for the right person with the right ears to receive the lyrics or the right soul to feel that special brush stroke.…and you learn to Love Again.