Not Valentine’s Day!

I’m not, by any means, a hater of Valentine’s Day. I love flowers, candles, candy, cheesy cards and awful, corny, gigantic displays of balloons. I love having an excuse to do something nice for someone I love. That’s what Valentine’s Day is to me- an excuse. Because, really, I strive to show the people in my life love on a daily basis- not one day a year because it is expected of me. This Valentine’s Day is different. Writing an article focused on love has been excruciating, no matter how I’ve tried to spin it.

About five months ago (five months to the day on Valentine’s Day, to be exact), I suffered a breakup. And I mean suffered! I was heartbroken. Watching a relationship unravel and ultimately end knocked the wind out of me. Admittedly, I went a little crazy. It is in the times when I am pushed past my breaking point, when it all seems an irreparable mess, that I learn the most about myself.

These are my life’s greatest lessons and once I came up for air, I learned a very valuable lesson: when you think you’re all alone, you aren’t. When you’re feeling deserted and insecure, those are the times to lean into yourself and find out who you are and what you are made of. And so began my journey of learning how to really love myself. Not just love, as in, “Hey, that Patricia chick, she’s pretty cool.” But, falling in love.  I have my heartbreak to thank for the new and deepened love I feel within my spirit.  My heart still aches over what I lost and I still have to heal ahead of me, but the renewed love and respect I feel for myself have been a welcome blossom amidst the ashes of my loss.

The good news is, you don’t have to suffer heartbreak like I did to grow and fall in love with yourself! There are things you can start practicing today that will help you get to know your authentic self and begin writing your love story.

Think back to the first moments of your last (or current) relationship. For me, there were butterflies. My heart skipping a beat every time I got a text message from him. Having to let the phone ring one extra time so I could take a deep breath and attempt to compose myself before hearing his voice on the other end. Finding no detail too small- wanting to know everything about him. Wanting to spend every second with him. Feeling a physical ache when he was gone.

Cherishing every moment. Just writing about it takes me back there and gives me butterflies all over again. This is how I want you to think about yourself. There is no one else on this earth like you. You’re the only one! How do you see the world? What do you value and hold dear? What are your quirks? What excites you? By spending focused time journaling about these things, you are taking purposeful steps toward getting to know your authentic self.

My relationship was long-distance, so I was always trying to come up with creative ways to show my man my love in the form of care packages. One of his favorite things to receive was something that came straight from my heart. I used to cut out strips of paper and write happy thoughts on them- whether fun memories we shared, inside jokes, or all the things I loved about him. I’d put them in a jar, seal it up and send it on its way. Taking a cue from my romantic self, I now have a jar filled with thoughts just for me. Struggles I overcame, funny moments, victories, things I love about myself and the things that make me most proud to be me- they are all in the jar. Neatly and beautifully packaged just for me.

When I’m having a bad day, I take a note out and read it. Maybe my day doesn’t turn around and maybe it does- it’s just nice to read something I love about myself. These little notes remind me how much I am cherished. They speak to the broken part of me, gently holding me and lifting me up, telling me no matter how bad the day has been, I still have everything to offer the world.   This jar of notes has become a physical, tangible form of the saying “Be your own cheerleader”. Sometimes, I don’t even need to read a note. Just looking at the jar and knowing what’s inside is enough to give me the strength to keep moving forward.

Whether you’re single, married, or otherwise inclined, I hope you’ll take some time and begin romancing your soul. In my own life, there has been no greater love story ever told.