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It's None of Your Business: Stop Asking Me When I'm Having Another Child

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It’s None of Your Business: Stop Asking Me When I’m Having Another Kid

For those of you who don’t know, my youngest daughter is 3. And I’m almost certain that before the nurses had her completely cleaned off, someone had asked me if I was planning to have another child. I can’t even begin to count the number of times that I have been asked when were my husband and I going to try for a boy.

And while I’ve smiled through all the questions and laughed people off instead of telling them to mind their own business, inside I was becoming angry and angrier. While I looked great on the outside and people considered that I was still capable of having children, they really did know what I was going through.

What was I going through, you might ask? Shortly after the birth of my last daughter, I made the decision to get my tubes completely removed.

No, I didn’t want them tied.

No, I didn’t want birth control.

No, I didn’t want to just use protection.

I wanted them completely removed because I felt I had made so many wrong choices and had endured so much pain, I could no longer see the purpose or the beauty in pregnancy and childbirth.

At the time, I didn’t realize it wasn’t really the pregnancy that had hurt me. It was the men who I had made the choice to get pregnant by that had hurt me.

I had been lied to.

Cheated on.

Stolen from.

Convinced to consider abortion, had a miscarriage and was forced to this same person go on to have a baby with another woman who ended up having her baby on the same expected due date as our child.

Disrespected…the list goes on.

For me there was no other choice but to take away my ability to have children. And it hurts, deeply. Just like I’m sure it hurts for those women who have been told by doctors that they will never be able to have children whether it is because of a medical condition, some physical harm that was caused to them, or due to the fact that a miscarriage changed their body and took that ability away. The women who gave birth to only lose their children within minutes, days, or months of their birth. The women who were in the midst of preparing for the birth of their child and suddenly had to face the fact that their child had died inside of them.

It hurts. And many people think they’re being motivating or encouraging by asking when are you going to have a baby or when are you going to have another child when the fact is that you don’t know what that woman has been through or is even going through. Daily I struggle with and often regret the decision I made, but I made that decision and I must endure the consequences.

For those of us who have been placed into this position, whether by force or choice, I believe that God can do the impossible and that it is possible for us to all have children one day. But while we are awaiting our miracle to happen, please be cautious before you ask a woman when she is going to have a baby. You never know what really is behind those smiles and laughs.

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Purposefully Suffering

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I could end this year with a blog telling you all the amazing things that happened in my life. I could potentially brag and boast about all the tangible things that God blessed me with. I could tell you all about increase in every area of my life. But I don’t know if that would do any good. And truthfully, though He did do some of those things and I’m grateful for them, it’s not what’s most important.

I actually came to talk to you about suffering. And I’m sure you’re questioning why on earth would you want to end the year talking about that.

You see this was actually sparked by a recent encounter I had with someone who decided they no longer wanted to interact with me because they only heard the part of the conversation where I said, “Sometimes God causes us to suffer...” but they negated to complete the thought with the remainder of what I said which was “because there is a greater lesson on the other side of whatever He is causing us to suffer for or through.”

I had to suffer through some things this year. The definition of suffer is to experience or to be subjected to something bad or unpleasant.

I suffered through financial stress.

I suffered through issues in my marriage.

I suffered through loss/changes in friendship.

I suffered through feeling lost & confused about my purpose.

I suffered through comparison and feeling like I wasn’t where I should be in my life and in my business.

I. Suffered.

And I’m sure you dealt with some suffering, too.

Now, I don’t want anyone confused and thinking that for me 2018 was a terrible year. Because it wasn’t, there were many great moments. But I believe those moments were as great as they were because of the suffering I had to go through. Just because I experienced some bad & unpleasant things that caused me to become uncomfortable, I know that I wasn't meant to endure the suffering long-term.

And that’s because I was suffering purposefully.

My pain had a purpose. The loss(es) had a purpose. Every test and every trial had a purpose.

The purpose was so that I could truly find out who God was so He could show me who I truly am. Not defined by money, cars, or clothes, or the identity of someone else but allowing every experience to draw me closer to Him so I could find my true identity in Him.

It wasn’t easy enduring so much suffering, but it was worth because it brought me closer to Him & the purpose and destiny over my life.

If you’ve found yourself where it seemed like 2018 didn’t go how you thought it would, I dare you to change your mindset for a moment and look at through the lens of what those rough moments taught you or you showed. And I’ll be you will see that just like me everything you went through was intentional.

You were suffering purposefully.
















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Prepared for Purpose: God Why Me?

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Friends Support Friends: Introducing The Bestie Code

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I am so excited to share with all my awesome followers, The Bestie Code.  My good friend Renee and her two best friends TaVonna and Emma have written this book that talks about building and maintaining healthy friendships with other women in our adult lives.  While it has been said that women (especially women of color) do not get along, their goals is to bust this myth with their real, straight-forward and humorous narrative of how they've managed to have an amazing and successful friendship.

The Bestie Code is filled with many topics that are near and dear to my heart - mental health, spirituality, and pursuing your purpose.  I had some pressing questions after reading a preview of their book that needed answers immediately.  Thank you to Renee, TaVonna, and Emma for taking time out to answer some of the questions I believe many people will have after they read this book and strive to improve their friendship with their besties.

  • As we pursue our purpose, we come up against obstacles that will try to deter and distract us from accomplishing our assignment.  What obstacles did you all face and overcome as you worked to get this book written?

Emma: For me, the obstacle I faced most was time management. I had to balance between work, kids, writing and everything else. I was doing everything on the go from my phone. Also, not being able to agree on things at times. 

TaVonna: I had to overcome my desire to want to write the book, mixed with episodes of bi-polar issues. Some days I wanted to do it, some days I didn’t.

Reneé: I think I struggled most with balancing my current business while writing and formatting the book. I had to really be particular about my time management. At times, I got overwhelmed and had to regroup and remember why I’m doing it all in the first place.

 

  • How did you all learn how to speak each others' "friendship language" (compare to "love language") to be able to have such a strong, lasting friendship?

Emma: Basically we had to make time for each other. The only way you can learn someone is to really put time into it. My friendship language is based on being supportive and loving. I try to love on everybody and love you past whatever pain or adversity you may be having. It’s also based on being understanding. My besties know that I always mean well.

Reneé: Yeah, it just takes time. And A LOT of patience. It goes back to acceptance. Once we honestly showed each other who we are, we all had to truly accept one another. I recognize that I bring a sense of balance to my besties. I am very solution-based and always do whatever I can to help fix problems. I’m probably the most non-emotional one of the three of us, so I’m not really sure what my friendship language actually is. But they find ways to love on me anyway (lol).

TaVonna: Time, patience and wine LOL. My friendship language is words of affirmation. They usually do really good about that. Emma pisses me off sometimes when she responds to a message of mine when I’m having a bad day though. For example, if I message them and say, “I’m so angry because I can’t find a pink shirt!” Reneé will say, “Well, maybe try this particular store.” Emma will say something like, “Just get a purple one.” NO, EMMA! I don’t WANT a purple shirt. (Lol) But seriously though, I’m typically the one that has the most issues and they have a way of bringing me back down to earth.

  • Renee, there's a part in the book that talks about your spiritual journey and desire to have a more intimate relationship with God.  How did you all earn to accept and appreciate where you were in your own spiritual journeys rather than forcing them to do or be like you?

Reneé: Well I recognize that everyone’s spiritual journey is their own. In the time when I decided to get serious about mine, I took time to really dive into my Bible and study. I got very active in my church and refocused my attention on finding and fulfilling whatever mission God had for me. But even still, I was very much present in my bestie circle. I didn’t go hang out as much, but I was always a phone call or text away, I came to birthday parties and other events, etc. I would never try to force someone to journey with me on what is designed to be a very personal. 

  • Oftentimes, it is said that Black women can't support other Black women who seem to be doing better than them.  As you all are successful in your own right, what does it take to keep jealousy at bay so that you can support one another while also motivating each other to do better and dream bigger?

TaVonna: My thing is, you have to know how to stay in your own lane. I do what I do well, and I don’t think anyone can do it like I do. I also can’t design a website like Reneé can and I don’t know music or write the way Emma does. I’m very secure in what I’m good at. We’re all so different, there’s no competition. I want to see everybody win.

Emma: I think what keeps it at bay for me is recognizing how beneficial it is that my friends are so talented and I can pull on those talents. Reneé is in business development so when I need help, I have it. When I’m sick, I can call TaVonna quicker than I can call a doctor, being that she’s a health advocate. It’s a win for me that my friends are good at what they do. Also, jealousy gets you kicked out the group soooo, I need these benefits (lol).

Reneé: I wrote about this in one of the chapters. Jealousy and good friendship just simply do NOT co-exist. As a woman, you have to learn how to find joy and purpose in your own journey, so that you can love your own life and support the next sister in hers. If you find yourself on the wrong side of success and your friend is on the right side, you should be able to ask your friend to help you as opposed to hating on her. You can’t hate and appreciate at the same time. And you have no reason to hate if you know your own purpose.

  • With there being such stigma in the Black community about mental health, was talking about mental health something that came naturally throughout your friendship or did you have to learn how to grow to be open and supportive of your friend as she worked through her mental health issues?

TaVonna: In the beginning it was difficult to talk about my mental health issues, but only because in the past it has been used against me. If I was having a bipolar or manic depression episode, people would ask me if I needed to be checked into a hospital. So I was afraid to share it for fear of judgement. But as our friendship grew, I knew it was important for them to know because they had to understand why I am the way I am sometimes and why I may disappear for periods of time to get myself together. Now, after conversations, I know they have a genuine concern for me, am I okay and if there’s anything they can do for me. There’s been trust built. 

Emma: To be honest, I think with TaVonna, she helped me more than I’ve ever felt like I’ve helped her. She is so strong with how she deals with her issues and it made me comfortable talking about my issues. There were times I had thoughts about suicide and that’s something that the black community won’t talk about. But through sharing her issues with us, it helped me be vulnerable enough to express the thoughts that I’ve had.

Reneé: I honestly think that once she was able to share with us what she dealt with, it helped make much more sense in why she did certain things and it wasn’t hard for me to accept it at all. My grandmother is the most important person on this earth to me, and she is diagnosed bipolar. I have a ton of compassion for those who have mental health issues because of her and seek to be understanding. Her being honest allowed us to truly support her as well as look out for her when we’re conducting business and at social events and such. If her anxiety gets high, we can see it. If she disappears, we know she’s not being fake, she’s likely having a needed moment to herself. It brought clarity and we could all be supportive however she needs us to.

Now that you've gotten a quick teaser of some of the things that were discussed in their book, be sure to pre-order a copy TODAY here and add this book to your collection!

 

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His Plan, My Purpose

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I must be honest; this isn’t what I expected for my life. But when God has plans for your life, you just move aside and let Him have his way.

I’ll also be honest that I NEVER thought I would be a therapist. Truth is, in my mind, I only went back to get my Masters in Social Work because I was tired of struggling. I was barely surviving from paycheck to paycheck and the raises we got at work weren’t enough to cover the increase in the cost of living. I was tired of being in an entry-level position and hearing, “We would love to promote you to one of the higher level positions but because you don’t have your social work license we can’t promote you.” Do you know what that does to your spirit to constantly hear that you’re unqualified? I was tired of it all!

So I applied and was accepted to one of the nation’s top 10 social work programs. But what does that matter when you feel like you’re going through 10x more hell? Failed relationship, suicidal thoughts, losing your mom, problems on your job, rough pregnancy, issues with school, just to name a few. I was going through so much, I truly thought I was going to end up in the psych ward. I couldn’t understand why I had to go through all of this. I was just trying to make a little more money so I could take care of my children the best way that I could.

You see what I didn’t realize then that I realize now is that God had me going to two different schools – the school where I would obtain book knowledge and the school where I would obtain wisdom because of the various things that I would go through. He did that so that one year ago when He led me to open Blessings In DisguiZe Counseling & Coaching, I would have everything I needed to help every client He sent my way. It’s good to say you went to school to do something, but people want someone that I like to call real, reliable, and relatable. They want to know that you’re not doing this for the check but that this is your passion, that your dedicated to what you do. They want to know that you’re really here for them when they need you and not just a person you fit in on Tuesday at 6 PM because you’re just “squeezing them in.” And they want to know that you’re not just speaking to them because you read a book, wrote a paper, and passed a test. They want to know that you have real life experience in the things you to talk about. They want to know that you went through so they can have a little glimmer of hope that they can get through, too.

One year ago, I didn’t know that God would lead me to this point. But I’m grateful that He did. I’m thankful that He led me to the place where His plan matched my passion and met purpose. Experience met excitement. Help met healing. Blessings in DisguiZe is here to “help you help yourself” and I’m excited to see what His plans are for this next phase of the journey!

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When One Chapter Ends, A New One Begins

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I can remember my first official day at my job. It was May 13, 2013.  I was so tired- I hadn’t slept because I was anxious, fearful, and doubting what was going to happen.  This was my fourth job in almost a year and I almost hadn’t gotten this one because of my work history.  Yet, they were willing to take a chance on me.  The pay wasn’t the greatest, but it provided better hours for me to be able to provide a more stable lifestyle for my daughter so there was no turning this down.  It was time for me to be a “big girl” and get up and go to work.

I believe that God places us in environments that will help us grow, force us to change, and pushes us into our purpose.  But, initially and throughout my time at my job, there were times I couldn’t see that.  I felt I was walking in as a failure.  I had recently failed out of a Masters program and was facing having to pay a large sum of money because I hadn’t completed all the courses.  I felt inadequate as I saw so many people moving up into new positions and I felt stuck because even when I tried to make things work, it seems like I never had the right credentials to be able to advance my career.  I felt weak because it seemed like I was in a constant fight to prove myself, to better myself, and sometimes feeling like a had to be who they wanted me to be when I wasn’t really sure who of who I was but trying to be me (that was a lot J).

But it was through all of the struggles, the fighting, and the tears that I became who I am today.  I learned who really supported me and who was just there to see if I would fail.  I found how to connect my love for Jesus with my career and not be ashamed of it.  And I learned how to stand out for who I am- a black woman making moves in social work.

I know I’m not the only one who has ever felt like, “God why are you taking me through all of this?”  There were so many times I wanted to leave, but I couldn’t because there was still work left for me to do.  I still had some growing to do.  It wasn’t my time to leave yet.  So many times we miss our blessing because we leave prematurely before God brings that chapter of our life to a close.

5 years later, this chapter of my life is coming to a close.  Nervous? Yes.  Fearful? No.  Because I know with new beginnings come new blessings and new lessons and I ready to see what the next chapter of my life has in store for me.

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Lost in the Loss: A Mother's Day Struggle

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As a child, Mother’s Day was always so simple.  Or at least it seemed that way.  I remember I would go to the store, get a card for my mom or my grandma, sign it in my best cursive writing, maybe buy a flower, and give them their gift with a big smile on my face.  Oh the joys of Mother’s Day.

But somewhere down the line, there were no more cards signed in pretty cursive writing.  The smell of flowers made me nauseous.  The smile on my face was a constant frown just at the thought of an approaching Mother’s Day.

Walking through the church doors on Mother’s Day was a struggle.  The sanctuary on this particular day no longer seemed to be my safe space.  It was the place that stabbed at my hurt because I had to sit and listen to the pastor talk about the joys of this day when I was filled with nothing but sorrow.

Pain.

Anger.

Loss.

Filled with so much but yet I was still empty.

I had suffered so much loss.  In my eyes, too much loss for one person to deal with.

How am I supposed to be happy when I feel as if I am less than as a mother because of the loss of my child?  Yes, I know I have two beautiful little girls but that doesn’t mean I don’t think about the baby that I carried in me that died so unexpectedly.  The baby that I was left to bear the pain of that loss alone.  And left to wonder what that child would have been like now.

Loss.

How am I supposed to be happy when I see so many of my people around me celebrating (or not celebrating) their mothers that they can call or even visit and shower and gifts and affection while I’m forced to stare at tomb with my mother’s name written across it?  Yes, I know that I was blessed to have the mother that I had, but that doesn’t change the fact that I long for one more hug. One more call. One more moment with my momma.

Lost.  I had lost so much and was I lost.

I was lost in my loss.  Lost in my pain.  Lost in my feelings of inadequacy of being a mother.

Mother’s Day used to be one of the most dreaded holidays for me until I found peace in knowing neither my child nor my mother were suffering.  When I found a greater love for my two beautiful blessings.  And when I found joy in the memories and the lessons from each loss.

I didn’t lose my baby or my momma, I just gained two angels.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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I Know What You Said, But That's Not What I Heard

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I Know What You Said, But That’s Not What I Heard

The words were like pulling the pin out of the grenade that set me off.  They were a trigger to set off the internal bomb of my emotions.

I could hear you talking but somehow the words that fell so effortlessly from your lips didn’t flow as easily through my ears.  They were painful.  And internally it set off a ball of emotions that took me back to a place I never wanted to be.

Like when you said to me, “You dropped the ball one too many times,” all I heard was “you’re unqualified” and “you’re not good enough.”  It told me that all the times I sacrificed and went above and beyond didn’t matter because in your eyes I was my mistakes and not my success.

At least that’s what I heard…

Or that time when you said to me, “you’ve just got to get over it,” all I heard was “your feelings don’t matter.”  You wanted me to walk in your shoes not realizing those weren’t meant to fit me, they were only meant to fit you.  So while “just get over it” was your coping mechanism, for me it just reaffirmed that my opinion wasn’t meant to be heard.

And I tried to just get past it but then there was the time when you said to me, “You just need some time but I’m sure you’ll go back,” all I heard was “You’re too weak to really stand by the decision you made.”  It was as if you were sent to shatter the little bit of confidence that I had and to keep me in the cycle of catering to the wants and needs of other people while leaving myself unfulfilled.

But I pressed past those words only to be hit with the time when you said to me, “I’m not really upset about what happened but it bothered the people I’m with so I had to say something,” but all I heard was, “I care more about these people’s feelings than I do about yours.”  It was something I should have been used to but those words stung a little bit more this time than they did other times.  Maybe because I never expected you to say them, maybe I felt like we were better than that, maybe it was a harsh reminder that I’ve always felt like other people’s opinions mattered more than mine.

But that's what I heard.

And I know some are reading this and saying, “Well Jasmine, you just misinterpreted what they were saying.  You can’t blame them.” 

And I don’t.  Because when I look back, I now realize that their words were sent on divine assignment. To the deepest places of rejection, low self-esteem and confidence, the need to please others, and the lack of value and worth I had placed in myself.  I needed you to say those words because instead of sparking an emotional response, they started an emotional healing.  So even when I hear those words or something similar to them, I don’t bow down in fear, self-pity, and doubt, but I stand confidently in knowing who I am and whose I am. 

I know what you said, but what I heard was, “Jasmine, you are who I say you are and not who others think you should be.”

I heard Him and His words were the only words that mattered.

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There's A Young Girl Inside

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I’ve tried to hide her. I’ve even tried to deny that she exists, but I can’t fight it anymore.

There’s a young girl inside that never recognized that she was a beautiful swan because she can remember all the times the kids pointed at her laughing and telling her that she was an ugly duckling. The gap toothed girl with the stain on her teeth and thick glasses that no one considered pretty until she traded the glasses for contacts and the braces straightened her smile but couldn’t brighten the negative thoughts of herself that constantly ran through her mind.   The girl who thought she had to constantly fix herself to be who people thought she should be rather than being true to who she knew she was supposed to be.

There’s a young girl inside who felt like she had to dumb herself down because she was intimidated by the success and achievements of her father. So rather than recognizing the greatness that was in him was also within her, she chose to settle for mediocrity, convincing herself that she was a disappointment to the only man that loved her through every moment of life – the good and the bad.

There’s a young girl inside that longs for the conversation that most girls have with their moms during their teenage years about boys, clothes, simply becoming a woman. Longing for the many missed hugs and intimate moments stolen by unresolved feelings that were addressed in the time that seemed to be too little too late.

There’s a young girl who never learned how to love herself so she tried to create love in her own way. Feeling that if she gave everything she had – emotionally, financially, sexually- that would some how create the environment for someone to love her. But it only led to a black pit of depression, loss, and self-hate.

There’s a young girl inside that’s longing to be connected to the Jasmine that exists today. Desiring to come together and let go of the hurt, shame, fear, and guilt that created the divide and come together and share the story of a young girl who overcame every obstacle set before her and became a young woman that was unafraid and unashamed. Living in the present and using the past as the motivation to pursue purpose and obtain a prosperous future.

There’s a young girl crying out God heal me and free me so I can become the woman you’ve destined me to be.

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The Aftermath of Valentine's Day: Is This As Good As It Gets

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Holidays really aren’t my thing.  But out of all of them, I particularly hated Valentine’s Day.  I just never could really understand why I hated it so much.

I don’t eat chocolate (don’t judge me).

Roses die and remind you how quickly the happy memories of the day fade.

Stuffed animals are only cute as long as you’re in a good place with the person that gave it to you.  Otherwise, it’s just an ugly reminder of what was.

Let me say it again, I hated Valentine’s Day.

But I didn’t know why.  That is, until I took a stroll down Valentine’s Memory Lane.

And there they were.  All the painful memories.

Like the year I was so sure I was spending the day with my forever Valentine.  I was in the midst of one of the toughest situations I had ever had to endure at that point in my life and I was sure that this night would help me forget all of the pain that I was feeling.  He vowed to make the day unforgettable and surely he kept his promise.  Candlelit dinner only to be outshined by the text messages that proved I wasn't the only Valentine he had spent his day with.

I rushed out of that memory and strolled a little further to the year where I thought Valentine’s Day would make up for all the hurt I had endured in the previous months with the guy I was in a relationship with at the time.  Steaks cooked just right, double date to the movies, and drinks with friends.  The night ended as “perfectly” as I thought it would, but the passion would only turn to pain when just a few days later I was hit with the reality that while I still being faithful to him after all the lying and the cheating, he was being faithful to his unfaithfulness he had already shown me in the months prior.  I was just temporarily blinded by the bears, gifts, and balloons.

I gathered my composure and decided to stroll along a little farther hoping to bump into a good memory.  Only to run smack into the memory of the cute bear I got sprayed with his Sean John cologne that I thought was the cutest gift in the world.  We weren’t able to see each other for very long that Valentine’s Day (or any other day for that matter) due to our busy schedules.   In our times away from each other, I could hug that bear and smell the scent of the cologne and feel close to him.  But the scent would fade and so would the good memories when you realize that you weren’t the only one cherishing that scent.

So there I was stopped dead in my tracks telling myself this is why I hate Valentine’s Day. Until I realized that it wasn’t any of their faults about my hate for Valentine’s Day.  One day on the calendar cannot erase the pain and lies that had occurred for months.  This one day on the calendar although marketed as a day of love cannot magically change someone’s heart or mind and make them into a perfectly loving human being.  This one day of gifts, flowers, cards, and balloons doesn’t balance out the loss endured from loving someone who wasn’t capable of loving you back.

I had settled for the thought that I shouldn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day because all I ever got from it was hurt and pain.  I had convinced myself that this was a good as it gets. 

It didn’t take for me to have a good Valentine’s Day (or even a day or two after) to begin celebrating the day again.  It took for me to realize that I could not expect this one day to fix all of my relationship issues or my self-esteem issues.  It was seeing the worth in myself to know that I was too good to be treated the way that I was and to let me self-esteem be dependent upon this one day on the calendar. 

It gets better when you love yourself. Not only on February 14th. But every day of the year.

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