The other day I decided to unload all the photos off my iPhone onto my computer because I was running out of space.
After they’d all imported, I started to look back at pics from three and four years ago in my iPhoto library. Photos taken in the year after I left my ex.
It’s strange. In so many ways I felt like the 8 years I spent with Jay were basically … just the same. Day in, day out. It was like for 8 years I stopped … growing. Stopped evolving. Or maybe it was just … slowed? I don’t know. That time in my life feels sluggish and half lived.
But looking back on the images from four years ago, when I finally left, it’s shocking to me. The things I went through, the lessons I learned. So so many in such a short amount of time. And I watched them all unfold again while looking through my pictures. I remembered each moment and what it felt like to be experience these things for the first time.
I looked back at that version of me, all full of hope and excitement and just sheer creative power .. finally feeling like a beautiful, desired woman. But also … if you really looked in her eyes … full of such deep rooted fears and insecurities and self doubt. I wanted to hug her and tell her to hold on, this ‘becoming who you’re meant to be’ is going to be a long, painful, thrilling and heartbreaking process but it will be for your good. I promise.
It’s amazing to me too because at that time, I was in the best shape of my life. My face was thinner, my arms were toned and defined. And yet .. the sad truth is? I have many pics that I took simply to look at the parts of my body I didn’t like and shame myself for them. I have a serious amount of sexy pics too (which I’m glad I took because GD I looked good), but to see me struggle and obsess over that last bit of roundness and softness just breaks my heart. For the girl that I was.
So … as much as this month is dedicated to loving friends and building relationships, I also want to dedicate it to loving myself. To loving the woman I am now.
Because to be the woman I want to be in the future, the woman I KNOW I can be … I need to love all that I was before and all that I am now.
So here goes … I am 35, single and I love myself.
I love my round tummy, in all it’s tender beauty. It’s a little fuller than I’d like but that’s ok. It’s full of love and wonder and sheer grit … and a looooottt of donuts. And donuts are the best thing.
I love my strong legs. These days they carry a little extra on them but they’re fiercely capable. Of running a 5k without stopping. Of squatting heavy things. Of kicking ass and taking names.
I love my long arms. They aren’t as toned as they once were but they are more built then they’ve ever been. They hold my puppies tenderly, they hug tightly and they bench over 100 pounds. Ok that’s not a lot but I’m proud of them because when I first started lifting I could only bench about 65 pounds. My arms are gentle and loving. But they won’t hesitate to protect me when threatened.
I love the lines on my face. They were given to me through many funny drunken selfies with my best friend, during many nights of crazy laughter so intense my stomach would ache the next day. I even love that my face is a little fuller than it was a few years ago. I earned that fullness with a lot of late nights drinking and laughing and eating and generally just being merry.
I love my breasts. They are small but they are perky. And I love the definition I’ve given them from lifting. I find them quite sexy if I’m being honest. And ngl, I have pretty great nipples.
I love my bum. It’s got a little more cellulite on it than it did a few years ago. It’s not big like most men like, but it’s mine and I’ve worked hard to get it to where it has the roundness it does. It will get better too. It’s a muscle that can be improved. But I love it as it is.
I love my strong back. It used to be more defined but it is still so very strong. It can pull my heavy butt up roughly 2-3 times in a row. And it has what I consider to be the most beautiful words tattooed on it – ‘Be brave enough’. I don’t have those adorable lower dimples right about my butt like some thinner girls do but that’s ok. I love my softness. I love love love this new me who is brave enough to look at her flaws, her cellulite and stretch marks and say, man, that is still so very beautiful. That is LIFE. That is me.
I love my hair. It’s long and healthy and luscious. It has a lot of grey (though I color it), but it’s full and beautiful and longer than I ever thought I could get it to.
I love my mind and heart. I love that I’m a bit reckless and have broken rules at times. Sometimes this has been for my good, pushing me through boundaries that once caused me great fear. Other times this recklessness has put me in situations where I’ve gotten hurt. But I still LOVE it about me. My heart loves openly and fully, with everything it has. And I have no regrets. I’m learning when to be more guarded and love myself first, but this openness and willingness to risk it all for love is something I treasure about myself.
I love that I have dated a million guys in Dallas. If you’d have told the young version of myself that I would even have that chance, I’d have thought surely not. I was way too shy and could barely talk to men. But I have! Sometimes I see it as a burden … all this dating and still I haven’t found ‘the one’. But should I? I’ve been lucky enough to meet a million different guys who all wanted to show me a different part of Dallas and themselves … and through all that, I’ve learned SO much about myself. Perspective, eh? If I look at it that way, it’s a gift.
And I was lucky that I COULD date so many men. And that I was able to meet so many of them organically. It doesn’t always happen that way.
I love this version of me. I love this 35 year old, divorced, fuller bodied, braver minded, wild and reckless version of myself. I love her heart and her mind and her body. And her soul.
She is a beauty to behold. She is the love of my life.