I have a Google document that reads “The Not So Good Sides of Me.” I don’t remember when I created it. Nevertheless, it’s a blank page. My intention was to pen a piece on my shadow side as part of my self-love journey. I planned to describe in detail the parts of my personality that I needed to “fix.” Because I’m a fixer and I thought I needed fixing.
I’ve had a change of heart. I understand now that I am (im)perfect just the way I am. Still, I believe in personal growth and personal development. I am a proponent and an active participant of self-examination and exploration. Simply put, I’ve entered an exciting phase in my self-love journey where I actually love myself. I have ceased picking myself apart, limb from limb and trait by trait. I’m focused on the beautiful aspects of my personality, my heart, and my mind.
For decades, I thought that my actions and thought processes were wrong. I convinced myself that I had to change my behavior in certain situations. I believed that in order to mature and be the best version of myself I had to be less reactive and more selfless, less expressive and more “zen,” and less energetic and more introverted. In this head and heart space, I committed to men who didn’t love me unconditionally because I did not see my worth and value just as I am.
I thought the answer to a loving relationship lay in changing myself. So I took in my exes criticisms and tried to talk less, shine less in social settings, and become more “responsible” and less of a dreamer. During the last few years of our relationship, he discouraged me from pursuing a creative career due it “not being stable.” He often asked when I’d “give up” on my creative pursuits. I didn’t have an answer to that and told him so.
The Need to Please
Still, I wanted to please him. I wanted him to feel proud of me and to see that I was indeed enough. I hid my selfie game and the grand events I hosted for my brand, like Stassi from Vanderpump Rules hid from her then-boyfriend, Patrick. At one point, I took odd jobs, even working at Century21 in the mall, so that I could pay my bills and “provide” for my family. I did all of this and more because I did not love myself enough to say no and say, “Love me as is or don’t love me at all.”
Yet I’m grateful for it all. I have my son, Evan, thanks to my former relationship and I found myself through it as well. I learned so many lessons in self-love and, yes, responsibility. Because my ex was my mirror.
I chose a man who didn’t like how much I talked because I felt insecure about how much I talked. He thought I lacked a strong work ethic and a sense of responsibility. In the conventional sense, I did. I felt terrible that I was unconventional. I took his jokes to heart when he poked fun at my style (bright colors and patterns for days) because I desired to be stylish and graceful, like a Libra ruled by Venus. Instead, I felt like my style was scattered and rushed, much like Mars, my astrological papi. (Hey Aries!)
Continuing My Self Love Journey
My point is not to hate on my ex. Although I truly could. I had one goal for penning this piece. That’s to be accountable for the way that I felt about myself due to a lack of self-love. To finally release that version of myself. Because I believed something was wrong with me.
I didn’t have to change myself to be loved, I had to love myself to be loved. And that, my friends, is growth.
Sujeiry Gonzalez is a freelance relationship writer and author with over 14 years of experience. Coined the ‘Latina Carrie Bradshaw’ and the go-to chica for all things love, she has shared relationship stumbles, dating anecdotes and heartbreak on various platforms, including Latina, Cosmopolitan, and Well + Good. The relationship expert and radio show host has also been featured in People, Stylecaster, USA Today and Cosmo, and hosted her own radio show (Love Sujeiry) on SiriusXM. Author of Love Trips and Founder of Latina x Love, she is currently writing her first romance novel while educating writers on how to self-publish and create brandtastic content online for marketing.