One day several years ago, I asked my dad if he believed in “the one.” Considering my dad is both Catholic and deeply in love with my mother, I was ready for a firm yes. What I got instead was, “love is like ice cream.”
When I was seventeen years old, I fell in love with a man. He was beautiful, strong, and exciting. He was loud, drank whiskey, and kissed me deeply. I admired his focus and blatancy. As our time together grew longer, I recognized that his blatancy hurt people, his focus steered him away from what was important, and I longed less for his kisses. Even so, I didn’t leave. The displeasure of that relationship wasn’t strong enough to turn me away, even if I knew deep down I’d be doing us both a favor. He ended up leaving me for another woman, and as debilitating as it was at the time, I realized I hadn’t been holding on because of him…
After that relationship, I had two pronounced romantic experiences. The first was with a childhood friend. We grew up together, had always found each other beautiful, and yet our lives took separate paths. When we reunited years later, it was explosive. For two solid weeks we were nearly inseparable. He was reckless and sensitive, kind and spontaneous. My heart melted every time he touched me. He said he was going away, but he’d be back. He asked me not to fall in love with anyone while he was gone. I said nothing. When he left, I waited for his text messages and calls. Instead, I saw him months later, passing me in his truck with a bunch of women laughing alongside him. My heart sank.
The second experience was with a friend of a friend who had also just ended a long-term relationship. We began texting each other, and he was forward about his romantic side. He wanted to take me to dinner and then out dancing. Finally, when we met, his description was far from the truth. After an intimate evening, and learning he was dealing with some deep-rooted insecurities, he ghosted me, then, of course, told all his friends (AKA our mutual friends) that I was “crazy.”
With those three experiences under my belt, I felt broken. When my dad found me crying one day, and asked me what was wrong, this is all I could muster: everyone leaves me, and I have no control, no choice.
Applying the Ice Cream Theory
My dad sat with me, pulled me into his arms and, like dads do, said, “it’s their loss.” I tried to let it sink in. It didn’t. But then he posed one of the most important questions I’d ever been asked, “Did any of them bring out the best in you?” I took a breath. “Truly, did you feel entirely good and yourself around them?”
I didn’t. I became a false, fragmented version of me. The cool girlfriend. The nonchalant, booty call. The chill, party girl. I was, by no stretch of the imagination, any of these personas at that time. I was a wreck who wanted to feel loved and valued, which left me reaching for people who didn’t have the desire nor capacity for such things. That is why I stayed five years in a broken relationship. That’s why, for two weeks, I followed a man who was so blatantly afraid of commitment. That’s why I hooked up with a guy who spent an entire evening ignoring me.
I was trying to prove to myself that I was important, an exception to the rule. What happened instead was deeper wounds, more self-loathing.
In that instant, I knew what I had to do. In that moment, I had to apply the ice cream theory. I was going to become my favorite flavor, and enjoy every inch of myself before I let anyone else in.
Dangers in Lalaland
People throw this word around like it’s the easiest thing to achieve: self-love. Well, it’s not. We have brains that are programmed for negativity (you can thank lions and our ancestors for that). What we do have on our side, however, is awareness, and that day, my dad lit my consciousness up like a Christmas tree.
You see, there are so many magical things about romance and love, but there are also dangers. The greatest one of all is what some psychologists and coaches call “love addiction.” My definition of love addiction is the opposite of self-love:
Love addiction is a sober way of describing a person who seeks validation through romance and intimacy; it’s a person who desperately needs acceptance, and in that desperation, hands their power over to romantic partners. In other words, a love addict uses love and intimacy to shield themselves from, well, themselves (AKA psychological pain).Yours truly
Love Addiction with a Cherry on Top
Discovering my need for male validation nearly put me through the roof. Yes, I was trying to fill a void. Yes, I dreamt of the kind of relationship my parents had. Yes, I was (and still am) a passionate, loving, and physical human being. All of that to say, not every human on the planet could handle me. Truth be told, I wouldn’t trust just anyone with these qualities of mine anymore. That’s where I had to start. I had to accept that I am someone who values passion, communication, affection, and sexuality, and these are non-negotiables. I had to learn to take responsibility for my own actions and relationships, because every time I pointed the finger, I was handing my power over to that person.
If someone can make you angry, feel hurt, jealous, anxious, or any other disturbing emotion, be it within a romantic relationship or not, you are giving them control. That isn’t to say there aren’t people who thrive off harming others in this way; however, if you are aware of your own emotions, and understand that they belong to you, it will be easier to decipher whether your reactions are rational (you’re in an unhealthy/unsafe space) or you’re seeking to gain something through those emotions (i.e. if you act sad or ill, your partner may soften and show you more attention). Both scenarios will provide clarity into how right a relationship is for you. If you victimize yourself, or someone goes out of their way to get an emotional response, maybe they aren’t bringing out your best. Or, perhaps, you’re not.
Moose Tracks Ice Cream Forever
When you hear “you can’t love someone until you love yourself,” believe it. Listen, when I met my hubs, I was recovering from bulimia nervosa. I was riddled with anxiety and had even begun having panic attacks out of fear of experiencing more heartbreak. You can look at that and easily think, “well, you didn’t love yourself and you found the love of your life!” Let me explain…
I did love myself. I loved myself so much that I recognized I needed help, and that I was going to do everything in my power to get better. No, I hadn’t planned on meeting a special someone during that time, but guess what, the Universe doesn’t always agree with our plans. Yes, I was triggered constantly. I feared him judging or leaving me… But, with all those fearful thoughts came the soothing ones: if he leaves, he’s just making space for me, and that’s okay. I will be okay, because I have myself, and that’s a beautiful thing. I trained myself to combat the negative with facts. Because, let’s face it, positivity can only get you so far, truth will carry you home!
So, even though I still had a long road ahead of me when I met Fabian, the self-love journey had long-since begun. I knew the difference between the external crazy-makers and the one in my head. I could differentiate between my own anxiety, and that in which another person caused. Remember, love is like ice cream. There are many flavors. You’ll like some, dislike some. The question you really must ask yourself is which flavor brings you the most joy? Because, like ice cream, love is meant to feel good! And sometimes, most times, always, that love begins with the self.
Choose yourself forever.
How to Choose Your Flavor First
You know me, I can’t leave you with stories and no tools. As someone who once cried at the sight of herself in the mirror, to now feeling like a badass bitch all day, I know this road is not always smooth. What I can tell you though is it’s worth every single step, fall, climb, crawl… Because you’re worth it. So, here are some of the tools I use, as well as external resources that will help bring out the best version of you!
I feel this is the one people most fear, because they think it means there’s something seriously wrong with them. Listen, therapy is a resource, and it can be a powerful one. If therapy is truly too big a step, try seeking a life coach of some kind! Click here if you want to put your feelers out; I offer free consultations.
Creating a routine that incorporates these three things will have tremendous and rapid positive effects on your mood and self-esteem:
Affirmations. In the end we are what we think. Our reality is based on our thoughts of the world and the people in it. Affirmations is a proven method of self transformation – I am walking proof. Don’t know where to start? I recommend you read this article by HuffPost to get started. My advice for fuller effect, choose or write some that resonate most with you and are relevant to your life and struggles. Stand in front a mirror and say them to yourself. Repeat them at least ten times. Take breaths in between, and just let yourself feel the words. Remember, this is a practice, and won’t work over night. Continue, believe, and I promise the change will come!
Gratitude. If you haven’t read my recent post Me Time: A Road Map to Peace (of mind), I recommend you do. Simply put, gratitude makes us happier, more optimistic, present, develops our positive emotions and adds years to our life.
Meditation. During my recovery, I practiced meditation in the morning and at night. It increased my ability to focus and stay out of spiraling negative thoughts. It strengthens your presence and awareness, which is critical for personal growth and building self-esteem. If you’re someone who has triggers around specific topics or situations, meditation also provides breathing/calming techniques that will help reduce you during triggered moments. I recommend apps like Headspace, Insight Timer (includes free mediations), and Stop, Think & Breathe (includes free mediations).
BOOKS & GURUS
These are some of my favorite books and people – they’ve changed my life.
- You are a Bad Ass by Jen Sincero
- Anything by Brene Brown! Recommendations: Braving the Wilderness, and her TEDx Talk on Vulnerability!
- Anything by Eckart Tolle! Recommendations: A New Earth and The Power of Now
Share Your Story
We aren’t on this planet to speak monologues and walk off stage. We’re here to love and lift one another, so please, share your story in the comments below or by contacting Fab and I here. We can learn so much from one another, and we genuinely want to hear from you!
With love and peace,
Brandi and Fabian
We so appreciate you coming and checking out our slice of the web! Your support means the world to us! For that reason, we want to keep you up to date on what we do. I, Brandi, wrote a novel and am believe it would be a perfect addition to your bookshelf! I’m also offering signed copies at a discounted rate, simply for being a part of our journey! For your personalized copy, contact me here. Otherwise, feel free to click the image below.