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It’s the first Valentines in a long time that I’ve been single.  No date, nothing to do.  And I’ve come to the conclusion that of course, it’s kind of awesome.  I don’t need a Valentines.  We know of course here that it’s a manufactured Holiday meant to drive the consumption of pretty useless consumer goods.  We should love each other as much as possible every-single-day.

I thought about this yesterday, I was an emotional mess.  My dear friend Gus had passed away exactly one year ago, February 13th, 2012.  He was a very important person to me even though I had failed to realize just how important until he was gone.

That emptiness has remained.  It has been more fully realized since I’ve started making such incredible upheavals in my life, from a divorce to working again.  I have also lost almost 45 pounds having come to the place in my life that I’m secure enough to let go of the adipose armor that has kept me from being able to be close to anyone, the protective tissue that was warding off the world and insulating me from so much.

I am finding myself.  It’s been an amazing six months and quite painful, jubilant, turbulent, and all the other adjectives that describe upheaval.  I’ve been digging deep and such change does not come easily, nor cheaply.  Its cost me a great deal of mental and emotional energy, well spent.

The first part of the journey really started with my commitment to my health and making the realization that I was completely and totally worth caring for and loving to the fullest extent possible.  That meant getting myself to the gym 5 days a week.  Religously.  And I’ve done that for six months now.  I haven’t felt this good in a long time, nor have I been this strong or healthy.  I’ve never been able to run two miles without stopping, ride a bike for ten miles, nor hike 6 or 7 miles without it seeming like a walk in the park.  I’ve come to the point where I am able to give myself the greatest gift, a higher quality of life.

And I deserve every bit of it.

It is absolutely true that you cannot love anyone until you truly learn to love yourself.  It is quite a tough lesson.  It is one I’ve been studying for a lifetime.  I grew up with verbal and emotional abuse and as a child of an alcoholic.  I have deeply ingrained protective mechanisms that were grown in order to survive circumstances beyond my control.  They serve me no purpose now, I am learning to shed them, both physically and emotionally.  As the pounds come off, so do my fears of inadequacy and my inability to embrace everything about myself.  I am learning to say, “This is who I am, deal with it”.

Even the process of dating has taught me some very valuable lessons about myself.  I’m learning to deal with rejection much more graciously.  I am realizing what I’m willing to tolerate and what I’m not.  I am learning what it is I want in a relationship and what I absolutely don’t want.  I am learning what my needs are and how to get them met.  I’m learning what it means to be a healthy part of a couple.

Gus.  I miss him so much.  He knew how much I struggled every-single-day.  Not many people knew how bad things were for me.  But he knew and he would call and check in on me, not many people did that either.  I had really turned in on myself, not just socially but emotionally.  I was walled off to the world and to myself.  Gus knew how to get me to come out, he really got me.  

And Gus saw my potential, he encouraged me to do more and he supported my efforts in writing as so few did.  I really didn’t have many people in my life like Gus.  And I rarely have a day that I don’t think about him and miss his laugh and him calling and then saying Goodbye in that uniquely Guslike and abrupt way.

So I’m learning to be my own Gus.  I know he would be so very proud of me.  If I think about him too much, I tear up.  The last couple of years have been full of loss and it’s time that I start to get some things back.  Too many lost friends and opportunities.  Life doesn’t wait for you to get your shit together.  It’s happening now.

And all this happening has gotten me so overwhelmed at times.  I used to shove a lot of things down, I would just be numb.  I now walk around like quite the live wire.  I get drowned in emotions, it’s quite a feeling and I panic, I shake, I try my best to steady the rough seas.  I’m learning.  And it’s a messiness that I’m embracing because it’s the kind of messiness that includes passion, love and all those amazing ups that life should be about.

I am not alone on Valentines.  I have myself, the best person I know right now.  I’m learning that I am strong, I’m amazingly smart, funny, talented and beautiful.  I am deserving of every single thing I want in my life and that my Valentines is me.  

You are not alone on Valentines, you can be your own Valentines, if you allow yourself to be.  

You deserve the best person out there, so make it so.

Originally posted to Ellinorianne on Fri Feb 14, 2014 at 08:33 AM PST.

Also republished by Pink Clubhouse.

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