To Search, Without Searching.

One year. So much change, but mostly growth.

I searched for myself in the wrong ways. I searched for myself in the right ways. I searched for myself in the gray areas between. It was a year of YES. It was a year of saying, “FUCK IT. Let’s do it.” And it was a year of learning.

Since I was seventeen, I have been the girl with a man beside her. While this man has changed faces many times, he was always there to scoop me up when I fell, to kiss away the tears or to bury my face in to hide when I was low or embarassed. He was there holding me up, for better or for worse, in any occassion needed.

But when Jason and I ended things close to the end of 2014, I realized that my whole adult existence had been defined by another person standing next to me. I had become the “girlfriend girl” and not the girl-who-can-stand-on-her-own-two-feet-and-doesn’t-need-a-man-to-define-her. The minute this realization came to be, I stopped. I dug my heels into the soil. I closed my eyes. And I fell.

Only, this time, there were no masculine hands to catch me. There was only myself. So when I hit the ground hard, I had to dust my own dress off. I had to kick the sand out of my shoes, straighten my hair and move forward. By myself. I had to save myself.

2015 was my journey. Sure, there were a lot of guys along the way. But, none of these men stayed and none of them defined me. They each taught me a lesson, one about myself, and I am forever grateful to have encountered each and every one.

But I also don’t want to say they are the reason I discovered myself, because I think that truly, I am the reason. I taught myself how to be strong for myself, and for the people I love. I taught myself how to be a single mom with grace and humility. I taught myself how to be what I like to call a goal digger, and kick ass at my job. I taught myself how to keep my heart open to opportunities of love- and to know the difference between love and lust. I wanted to search for love, but without actually searching, or forcing it.

I learned who I am in 2015. Not who I was before I became an adult, but who I’ve become over the past few years, who I’ve built myself into. I am not the girl I was when I was seventeen before dating Daniel. I’m not a teenager. And while each adult relationship has taught me many things about loving another person, they didn’t ever teach me about loving myself. And isn’t that the most important thing?

If I had loved myself a little more, I would have ended my marriage the minute it became abusive. If I had loved myself a little more, I would have ended my relationship with Jason the minute he put my hands on me. I would have seen the warning signs. I would have known that I deserved better. I deserved to grow, and to change. I deserved to be every version of myself that I will become, and it didn’t have to include them.

So I sit here writing this, very aware of the person I’ve become, and who I want to continue to be and who I want to grow into. It is a really great feeling. I finally feel content.

I made sure that if I was going to get into a new relationship with someone, that they had to improve my life in some way. I wasn’t going to settle for ordinary this time around. If they didn’t add something to my life, then they were not right for me.

I think people come back into your life at the exact moment that you need them to. Running into Jordan at the end of July at the beer, bourbon & bbq festival took me back to those days in middle and high school when he was good friends with my brother and we’d play wrestle in the spare bedroom. I remember how big of a crush I had on him back then. But he was three and a half years older than me. SO out of my league back then. But the good thing about knowing him then, is I already knew he was a good person. It was just a matter of finding out if those years between then and now had shaped him into someone else.

Timing wasn’t right back in July though. I was still learning about myself. He was dating someone else. We didn’t talk for a couple months. And then when we did, it seemed like the universe made us click into place. Suddenly, something felt right. The more I learned about the Jordan he is now, the more I realized that he was someone who would be worth staying around. He is someone with a kind heart, one that is really rare and hard to find these days in the dating world. He’s one of the good ones.

I find myself daydreaming a lot now. It feels like one big dream the past few weeks, and if it is, please don’t pinch me. I don’t want to wake up from this. It feels too good. It feels too right.

I’m so happy I kissed someone I care about at midnight. I hope this sets the tone for 2016. I’m excited to see what adventures are in store for me, and for us.