When I was 15 I fell in love, honey. I was so wrapped up, sprung and so far GONE I would do whatever…even if it put me at risk, mentally, physically, emotionally. Sounds more like low key voodoo and witchcraft to me now, but in hindsight it was the start of someone choosing to accept me and my complicated, confused teenage mess. But you know that first real relationship will have you walking around in a daze, only consumed with fulfilling the selfish desires of someone else. I knew I loved myself but definitely had some insecurity issues. My mom told me she loved me everyday even when I knew I did something to piss her and the whole house off. But it was something about hearing someone of the opposite sex telling me they loved me and expressing it in their own way; whether it made sense to me or not. I was good, but not good enough. I was loyal, but there was always something else I could've done. Before I knew it, I was disregarding what I wanted to do to gain their acceptance…or illusion of love. The love I thought I needed to live. The love I thought would bring me my heart's deepest desires. This was my first encounter of allowing someone to define my value, my worth.
A decade and some change has passed since then. There have been more situations I've willingly gotten too deeply involved in, in hopes for reconciliation. In hopes that it would bring us closer together. Living in a river full of lies, false hopes and 'what ifs'.
I could define my worth on the job…even though I would take less pay than my counterparts. I could define my worth to friends…even if that meant I would sacrifice all of my spare time to be present for them. I could even define my worth to my family…even if that meant I served as a trashcan - unloading their life burdens but forcing me to carry them. But it took a harsh breakup that compelled me to start the journey of defining what my worth really was…and what I was going to do to make sure I didn't create a space where I allowed men (or other people period) to define what was most precious to me.
I let everything go. I let myself go. I let my dreams go. I let everything ideal, the things I thought I knew about myself go. I allowed God to rewrite my story, even if it was eerily painful. I placed question marks where periods once were. I eventually let depression go. I slowly let my analytical self go. Instead of trying to figure it out, I let time answer questions for me. I granted myself the grace to not have it all figured out all of the time. I started saying, "I don't know" with confidence instead of shame. I went on a soul searching quest to redefine my path instead of attempting to rewrite my past.
I set parameters without feeling guilty. I communicated clearly what I wanted. I listened attentively to make sure we were truly aligned. I moved out of the way so God could make room for what He wanted for me. I allowed God to shape the man instead of me. Men don't need another mom, so sis - let that role go. From experience, it won't get you any further to a ring…trust me. A ring is only half the battle - it's not substantive enough when the bills are higher than what's coming in, a chronically ill child or two broken people attempting to justify their brokenness together…I digress. I held firmly onto what I knew God told me, whether it made sense to anyone else. I was unapologetic. I became less afraid, less fearful. I made it all about me. I was selfish for a change. I fought and fought my flesh - every minute. I desired true change more than relief. I broke down often, but I wasn't operating as a broken person.
I smiled more. I crept out the shell of protection I built for comfort. I finally saw my light even in the midst of darkness. I loved who I was. I loved who I was becoming.
If you are still asking yourself, "what did she do to define and know her worth?"
I made room for the journey.
That’s not to say I never looked back. I looked back often, until I realized my feet couldn’t move forward with my eyes focused on what was already behind me.
Your worth cannot be defined by anyone else, nor can you define someone else's. If it takes too much work for someone else to recognize and appreciate what you have worked so hard to define - walk away. Communicating what they may never be able to comprehend is taxing; no convincing, compromising or coercing should be required.
Let go even when it hurts.
Protect your peace at all costs.
Create space to grow past your mistakes, no matter how recent they are.
Have the expectation you will gain much more than you can ever lose.