September 23, 2018 marks a whole year of being in love with the most thoughtful human being. My heart is all mushy and love is most definitely in the air, but its not hard to think back to a time when I felt worthless and irrelevant to the world around me. Now I can’t go blame all of my issues on previous boyfriends, however I can say that getting treated poorly in a relationship tends to diminish the desire to love yourself. I went on for years hating myself and searching for the things I could change about myself in order to be loved by someone else. It took a full year of loneliness and contemplation to realize that I was never going to find what I was looking for until I learned to love everything about myself, the good and the not so good. Wow, that sounds so cliche but it couldn’t be any closer to the truth. I began to realize my worth in one of the most painful, mentally exhausting relationships. He belittled me, called me names, and made me feel foolish for wanting to get treated in a respectful, loving way. One day, he got so angry that he kicked me out of his apartment and told me I was dead to him. Hours later, he called me to say he overreacted and to come back over. Stupid me, I went back over to his apartment where he proceeded to yell at me and NOT apologize because “he had no reason to apologize, I was just being crazy”. Time after time I continued to forgive him and time after time he continued to show me the millions of reasons he didn’t deserve my forgiveness. My self-esteem was diminished and the love I had for myself was nearly nonexistent, so I turned to God. I listened to my favorite worship songs and I prayed that he would give me the knowledge to understand why I wasn’t good enough. And he did answer my prayers, but rather than helping me understand why I wasn’t good enough, he helped reveal to myself the many ways I am more than good enough. He gave me the knowledge to know what I deserve, whether it be in a relationship or in my everyday life. He gave me the strength to remove the negativity from my life and look solely at the positives. During this time of growth, finding myself, and learning to love myself, God placed a wonderful man into my life. A man who doesn’t try to diminish my self-worth but instead shows me reasons every day to treasure my self-worth. A man who, everyday shows me the true meaning of unconditional love. I love my boyfriend for a million different reasons, but everyday he teaches me how to love myself and thats a debt I will never be able to repay. So ladies, if you are in a toxic relationship and have been dragged down so far to the point of not knowing if you’ll be able to make it back to the surface, know that there is hope. Know that there is someone out there who will love you for you, imperfections and all. And lastly, know that you ARE beautiful, you ARE strong, and you ARE capable of living the life you deserve.