Diving into Love

C/W suicidal ideations

Welcome back, loves. Glad to be here, even if only 5 days ago I would not have said that. Went through a small spout of depression this week. The bad kind. The kind where I could barely get out of bed, brushing my teeth was considered a victory, and the idea of disappearing sounded more ideal than anything else. Haven’t felt that down in a long time. Luckily, the feeling didn’t stick around too long and I am out on the other side.

While it was hard to be in that state, I did get to reflect on some pretty cool self improvements. First, I recognized what was happening. I didn’t try to pretend it wasn’t there or act like I couldn’t explain it. It was a feeling I knew well and I jumped in. I thrust my body off of the diving board, gracefully crashing to the bottom of the pool. Second, when I hit the water and was gasping for air, I listened to that. My body told me to breathe and I took long, deep breaths. It said rest, so I laid on the couch all day on Sunday. It said eat, so I ate. It said don’t eat, so I didn’t eat. It said take a walk, and I took a walk. That is a huge improvement. In the past, I felt as though I couldn’t trust my body; my body was the enemy. If my body said eat, I would say “why are you trying to make me fat?” A gross statement in and of itself. Now, when my body says eat, I say “what are we craving? What type of fuel do we need?” What a relief to find trust in my body. Finally, I didn’t let it hang around too long. I had previously wrote a post about needing to fight. That we need to fight when things don’t feel worth fighting for anymore. This is where listening to your body can get a little complicated, because if I let it my body could stay under water for a very long time. It’s easier to not kick and just stare up at the surface through the water seeing a blur of what life used to look like. It’s safe down there. But see, I had to kick because my body also screamed for air. That line is understanding desire vs need. I spent a few days below the surface before breaking through- pushing my legs and arms as hard as I could to in order to reach the surface. What did that look like in reality as opposed to this diving metaphor?

It was crying and telling myself that all things change. It was saying that this feeling, as hard as it is to feel, will indeed change. It was saying that this is not how I want to live. It was hiding under that covers and then coming out from under the covers. It was going to work, after 1100 ‘snoozes’ of the alarm.  It was doing things one step at a time. It was everything I could muster. It was reaching out for help; it was me telling my friends I’m drowning. (Can’t seem to escape the swim metaphors *shoulder shrug emoji*.)

At one point, I started to feel like a burden. That is a sign for me that I am reaching the lowest place, the place that is hard to come back from. The place with suicidal ideations. I had to repeat to myself that I am not a burden and that people love me. I was sitting in the dark, my arms wrapped around myself, fighting that feeling when all of the sudden there was a bright light in my face. My best friend was calling me. I picked up sobbing into the phone. She said her “best friend spidey senses were tingling”. She knew I need her more than I realized I needed her. We talked on the phone for a couple of hours. When I first answered I was crying, barely able to breathe, feeling like I couldn’t go on. By the end of the conversation I couldn’t remember why I was upset to begin with. It was like my soul had been restored. A simple conversation from a friend who sat there with me and said “I wish I could do or say something, but all I can say is I love you.” The thing is… that was all I needed. I needed to be reminded that I am loved, I am loving, and I am lovable.

Which brings me to the point of this post. I know, it was a really lengthy way of getting here, but I am dramatic and had to build it up. But seriously, it’s that time of the year. If you’re sitting there confused, I’ll fill you in. LOVE TIME aka Valentines Day aka hallmarks holiday. This Friday is that day that romance gets shoved into our faces and us single folx are reminded that we are not in a relationship. Okay, that may have sounded a little bitter, but honestly I am not bitter about it. I love Valentines Day.  When people ask me why (which is just rude, tbh) I always respond with “why would anyone hate a holiday that celebrates love!” I mean I know why, but I LOVE love. Yeah, I’m annoying like that. Every year I make a point to celebrate the love I have for myself. This year I am treating myself to some takeout and a bikini wax! I also believe I owe myself extra because last year I spent the day crying into my pillow because I ran into my ex with another girl. Gotta make up for that disaster. I think I see a massage in my near future.

This year though, I want to make it a point to celebrate even more love. This year, I want to remind the people that I love that I love them, because Valentines day isn’t just about your romantic partners- it’s about having a day dedicated to reminding the important people in your life that you care. My friends, as is evident from the story above, are life saving humans. My family lifts me up and gives me so much support. This type of love, well, its unlike any other. It gives me power to get through feelings of suicide that can lead to me forgetting I was even having those feelings in the matter of two hours.

I refuse to be bitter on a day about love because I am luckily enough to be surrounded by it. That is a gift I will never take for granted. When I was sitting in the dark, crying, asking someone to make the pain stop I got that prayer answered. I am pleading with you this year, for Valentines day, celebrate all the people you love. Pick up the phone and call your friends, family, dog, neighbor. Spread it around like it is bursting out of you. You may just answer someones prayer.

And I know one day isn’t enough, we must say it continually. So, staying on theme, I am just going to dive right in: I love you, my dear reader.

A[wo]men

Black History Month’s featured Black Artist:

“Everything want to be loved. Us sing and dance and holler, just trying to be loved.”

Alice Walker, The Color Purple

Published in 1982, The Color Purple focuses on the life of a black women in America the 1930’s. Alice Walkers way of writing is done in a way that nothing else matters while I am reading her material. The book was also adapted into film and a broadway show. I saw the broadway show and it was hands down the best performance I have seen thus far. I cried… hard. Alice Walker herself is a brilliant mind that graduated valedictorian from her high school. She grew up struggling with personal difficulties and would find comfort in writing poetry and reading. The Color Purple was one of the first books I read when I started reading for pleasure (I was a late bloomer in that aspect). It will always hold a special place in my heart.

My Longest Relationship

As one of my favorite days approaches, I would like to breach the topic of love with y’all. Now, I hope I haven’t lost half my audience already because sometimes just the notion of love makes people want to vomit. I get it, trust me, I do. Fun fact though, love isn’t only made for people in romantic relationships. I have been single for most of my life and I have found head over heels love in a lot of different ways. I have friendships that make me want to scream from a mountain top. I have the love of my family… and that love is so unconditional I could steal all their clothes and they would still love me. I could literally go on and on about the love I have outside of a romantic relationship, but the one I really want to discuss today is the love I have for myself.

TBH, Valentine’s Day was not always one of my favorite days. In fact, in high school I used to make sure I wore black. I had to mourn the fact that I was, yet again, all alone. No one was buying me flowers. It was that ‘none for Gretchen Wieners’ rage I would feel. “Why don’t boys like me?” I would cry, as Dashboard Confessional sang ballads of heart break into my ear. Did I mention I was an emo kid in high school? Maybe boys did like me in high school. I would never know though, because I was too busy hating myself to ever notice. And of course, I was pining for the boy I would never actually want to love me. The cool kid, on the football team, who was a bully. This became a cycle in my life. Falling for the wrong boys. Wishing that they would love me back, when they were monsters and I should have wanted nothing to do with them.

My early 20’s became a mad hunt for boys. I was running out of time. Not sure where I was getting my time table, but I felt far behind. I would search for the wrong love, mostly because it was the most convenient love. Any boys that would listen. Usually it was boys at the bar and usually they weren’t really listening. They would listen just enough to make me think that maybe it could go somewhere. Surprise! It never went very far. I would literally take a puzzle piece that was the complete wrong shape and try to make it fit. “Well, they hate the type of music I am into and they mock my Poli. Sci. major… but he seems like a good guy.” How low I had the bar back then. ‘He seems like a good guy’ now sounds like the title to a horror movie I should produce.

Then BAM! I turn 25 and something happens. I don’t know if it was my move to NYC, the fact that I was halfway to 30, or knowing that Hillary Clinton was running for president, but something in me changed. For the first time in my life, I looked in the mirror and I thought about how excited I was to see where my life goes. MY life. I wasn’t thinking about my life as it related to finding a boyfriend. I was picturing me as a social worker, me as a representative of the United States, me as a mother, me as someone who has paid off their credit card. Everything before that moment was me getting by until the moment I found a boyfriend. I hated myself. HATED. I thought that if I found someone to tell me I was beautiful, then it would be true. Of course, I had my friends telling me every day that I was beautiful, but it didn’t count because they weren’t men. It didn’t look like the love I saw in movies.

However, the biggest thing that was missing prior to my 25th birthday light bulb was me loving myself. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it before. The only person that I am truly in a relationship with for the rest of my life is me. I am with me until the day I day. It sounds corny and stupid. I get it. I’ve talked to many people that believe self-love is bullshit. Maybe I am wrong. I did spend 25 years believing my happiness was hidden in some guy, so it’s fair. But coming to the realization that I was not going anywhere really made me want to try to love myself. Sure, some days are harder than others. I won’t sit here and pretend that I never think about finding a partner or that I never call myself ugly. I have those days more than I would care to admit. The difference now is that it’s not all I know.

I know that I want a partner. Someone who fits the puzzle piece without destroying my shape. And I know that for every day I feel ugly, I make myself look in the mirror and say one nice thing about myself. These shifts alone have made a world of difference for me. And of course, the use of self-care. I know self-care sounds like a fad currently, but to me self-care is telling yourself you love you in even the smallest ways possible. Therefore, Valentine’s Day has become one of my favorite days. I am essentially dating myself. Since the age of 25, I have taken myself out on a date every Valentines Day.  At 25, I got myself a massage. At 26, I treated myself to some float therapy. At 27, I am starting a self-esteem group at the local high school. This is my favorite gift yet.

This Valentines Day, I dare you to date yourself and see how it feels. You may just fall in love with that person.