Two years ago today, I walked into the post office in Delray Beach and my life changed forever. It was like all the work I had done on myself, for others, for the world, had finally become my reality. All the prayers I prayed, all the abundance I manifested, all the love I had given away found it’s way back to me.
On August 9th, 2016, I made a wrong turn into the post office where Howard James Fowler Jr. approached me and asked me on a date. That one date led to a 2-year relationship that I am forever grateful for. And today, I express my gratitude in this writing. (See previous post on how it happened by clicking here.)
See, I never knew real love. This is true. Because prior to James, everything I was taught about love came from people who didn’t really love me.
In my past, I was cheated on. I was abused. I was manipulated. I was used. Time after time after time. I had anxiety. I experienced depression. I had sleeping disorders. And when you’re conditioned to that, that’s all you know. How do you expect better things in life or in love when your reality is what it is? ... Full of pain, full of betrayal, full of fear, full of anger.
Well, I don’t really know the answer, and I'm sure everyone is different, but I know what worked for me. I went to therapy (and still do). I went to church. I read self-help books. I did acupuncture. I underwent hypnosis. I learned about meditation and breathing techniques. I gave up all the habits that didn’t help me feel better, like negative self-talk, cyberstalking, binge-eating, drinking and smoking, and instead, did everything I could think of that was positive. I did what I needed to do to get past my issues and over time, I got through it.
While I wanted real love so desperately, I still had no idea how I would be able to do it the right way based on my past. How could I trust someone? How could I be sure they’ll commit to me? How can I be sure it’s real? Will I be crazy? Will I be able to do it? Will I trust him around other women? Will I be good enough for him? Will he even think I'm pretty? Will it be another one of those stupid back and forth games? ...
All these things ran through my head and I soon discovered that when Love is real, you'll know, without question. And all those little things that the others didn't love about you or criticized you for will make so much sense to the person who is meant for you.
There's no method on how-to in relationships because they're all so different, but with real love ... that soul-mate, ride or die kinda bond, it just clicks. You just do it. It just works. You just know. It just happens. Maybe not right away, but eventually. You just meet someone and bam! They're now your person.
When James appeared in my life, the game changed. Like for real changed. When I look back now, it felt like the entire universe conspired for us to be together. All the things that led me to the post office that day were by accident ... and it's comical because it was no accident at all.
Love is not accidental. It may seem that way when it's occurring but it's not. It's fate. It's destiny. It's His plan. And it's amazing. So amazing, that you can plan your entire life for this Prince Charming to come in and sweep you off your feet in a horse and carriage, and instead, he's in a cutoff t-shirt, Nike sliders and whips a black Cadillac ... but because of that energy and connection you know is there, and that magic that happens when you find the one, you're totally cool with the caddy and his rib tat showing. While that may not be the storybook Prince Charming, it's my Prince Charming.
James showed me that real love does exist. That real men do exist. That you can trust again and that you don’t have to be afraid to let your guard down. And he reminds me of this every single day.
See, anyone in this world is worthy and deserving and able to be in a real relationship and experience real love, but it's hard to do it without first loving yourself. Because relationships involve true commitment, honesty and loyalty. It's the basis of any lasting love and it all stems from people who love themselves.
If you can’t commit to becoming better for yourself, how can you commit to someone else? If you don’t care about being honest with yourself, how can you be honest with someone else? If you don’t appreciate loyalty, how can you be loyal to someone else?
I learned through my experience that real love starts from within. And because it’s an inside job, it has no limits. It can find its way to you at any point in time, without warning, without hesitation, without planning once you have done the work. As long as you believe in its power, it will find you.
And when it found me, it found parts of me I didn't even know existed.
As I reflect, I can see so clearly that real love stands by you during the best of times but especially in the worst of times. It acknowledges. It comforts. It overcomes.
Real love is about growth, about positive change, about evolving, no matter how hard it may seem. Real love is free. It’s supportive. It’s elevating. It’s freedom in its rawest form. It’s faith. It’s gratifying and full of gratitude. It’s pure joy.
Real love is waking up every day and freely choosing the same person over and over and over again despite the condition you're in, what the day brings or who else walks into your life. It’s knowing, that no matter what life throws at you, you still win with love because love always wins.
Real love is energy. It’s passion. It’s emotional. It’s chaos in all the best ways. Real love is connection. It’s laughter. It’s romantic. It’s intimate. It’s the truest friendship.
Real love is patient. It is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud. It is not rude. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. It does not delight in evil. It rejoices with the truth. It always protects. It always trusts. It’s always hopes. It always perseveres. Love never fails.
Before this, I didn’t know what Love was, but I did know what it was not.
It was not pain. Love is not pain. The loss of love can feel painful, but real love is not pain.
Love is the only thing in this world that never fails.
If we give love, if we feel love inside, if we are so full of love in its purest form which is, in fact, joy, we can accomplish anything. It’s when we mistake what love is for what love is not that our life turns upside down. We have to get so true in who we are and figure out what we expect from ourselves in a relationship and then the world will give you a partner who is ready for what you expect.
When one feels surrounded and appreciated in their own essence, being loved just as they are, they can freely be the best versions of themselves and do and be and have anything they desire. They become instantly empowered and transform. That's the love I get to share with James every day. Authentic, pure, real love. And I share this with you because I've been loved in a way that has empowered me to remind you that no matter how difficult life may seem, no matter what is going on in your relationship today, loving yourself will lead you to the love you so desperately seek.
For those of you reading this who may question if you’ll ever find the one, I hope this reassures you that once you learn to love yourself, you will. Maybe not in the way you may expect and maybe not at the time you may want, but you will eventually find the one that’s meant for you. You can’t rush something you want to last forever. You just have to know that it exists and have faith that what’s meant to be, will be. Always. Because real love never fails. Ever. It is eternal.
I am grateful today for the amazing man in my life who I get to share my love, friendship and happiness with, my sorrows and worries with, my fears and obstacles with, my mission and visions with, my jokes and joys with. I am grateful for the food we eat, the trips we take, the love we make, the cats we raise, the memories we share, the way we care ... I'm grateful for the conversations we have, the partnership we’ve created, the respect we give, the friends we’ve made, the families we're blessed with and most importantly, the faith we both have in knowing that no matter where life takes us, it will always bring us right back to where we’re meant to be ... next to one another.
James, I claim this here and now: my love for you is eternal. Happy Anniversary.