So I was drunk. Smoking, standing outside of a bar talking to a stripper. Sounds like the beginning to a really hilarious detailed joke, but it definitely isn't.
It's the beginning of a story about one of my nights last week.
Three beautiful boys, who have become some of my most favourite people in the past couple of months, were inside the bar pulling their lives together enough to bumble out to the car to go to our respective homes and fall into a drunken sleep, but I was standing in the falling snow with a lit cigarette in between my freshly-tattooed fingers, talking to a stripper. I was drunk and filled with such a great amount of happiness and peace that I thought I might burst.
I remember at one point, as I was standing there, I made a comment for at least the fifteenth time that night that I loved snow because it looks like glitter falling from the sky. I said that comment to the stripper and a random man standing to my left as I threw my head back, leaned against the building, and took a drag of my cigarette. I inhaled that menthol as deeply as I could and closed my eyes as tightly as they would, taking in the moment that I was having. This moment where I was freezing, but warmed by the copious amounts of beer and love that I had in me. This moment where I was happily letting snow moisten my glasses because it made the lights look like prisms in my line of sight. This moment where I was being told, for the third time that night, what a valuable, beautiful human I was, and that despite the things that have been done to me in the past or recently by people? I'm still worthy of love and don't need to place my worth in that.
My constant go-to when talking about my most recent breakup is that I am working to fix me. I am taking time with myself to make me a more complete and fantastic human.
So I recited those lines for the millionth time in the course of the past month to the stripper and guy that I was standing next to (I feel it must be noted probably now that said stripper is one of my friends who is just gracious enough to dance to basically any song I want, so the night was spent watching her red hair and boobies on stage swinging to Blind Melon and Marcy Playground and Hanson, much to the misery of the other patrons of the strip club, but to the complete and utter delight of myself and my boys. I love her dearly and am very grateful to have her in my life.) as I mused about the last boy I shared my home with. It wasn't an angry conversation, or even a conversation filled with any kind of sadness; just a conversation. I talked about how grateful I am for the nine months I had with him, I talked about what a beautiful person he is and how I hope that nothing but gorgeous things happen in his life because that is what he deserves. And then I moved on to talk about all the fantastic things that I deserve.
Because I realize that now. I have reached this place over the past several weeks that is made almost entirely of so much peace and I can't help but find myself falling back into the mentality of Danie from fourteen years ago... Nineteen years old, aqua-blue hairs, always on the lookout for an adventure and laughing about/relishing every single moment that she has been gifted with the kind of excitement you would only find from a little kid on their birthday (but in my case, the birthday would be Nicholas Cage themed, catered by PBR and Rumplemints and would result in every party goer leaving covered completely in glitter and breath that smelled like Christmas). There was never a moment that nineteen year-old Danie didn't find something to be grateful for. Not one second passed that she didn't have a reason to fall in love with life.
And now? Fourteen years later? I feel like I am finding that Danie again. It started in little spurts that I hardly even noticed at first. I would find myself in another petty argument with the ex-boy and rather than taking my mind to a hideous place and being hateful to myself or to him, I would click into positive, beautiful ways to resolve the argument so that we could both end up with smiles on our faces. I would come into work with a sense of complete and utter excitement about the people that I would get to meet and new things I would get to learn, rather than a sense of dread for having to trudge through yet ANOTHER day of selling my soul for a paycheck.
And now, today, it's become a fully-fledged thrill for existing. I find myself excited to write and draw and crochet and can't believe how much I have begun smiling again. It's been such a really beautiful transition to have gone through almost completely by accident.
I think that accident finally snapped into place last week at the bar. After my stripper friend went inside, far too cold to continue enjoying the snow as much as I was, the guy who had been quietly standing to my left for the previous fifteen minutes piped up, "You know, I don't like that you feel like you need to fix yourself because of the way someone treated you." To which I became almost instantly defensive because I never saw anything wrong with acknowledging and wanting to repair things that were broken; which I told him.
His response? "What makes you think that there's something broken in you just because someone else couldn't see your worth? You are worthy of love just the way that you are, even if the idiots that you were with before didn't value it. Someday, someone will meet you and love you exactly like you are and you won't have to change a thing. Just imagine how happy you'll be then."
And then I was floored. Completely unable to process anything to say in response to him. Why DID I feel like there were pieces of me that were broken because the ex-boy or my ex-husbands couldn't see the value in me? Why was there always something nagging in the back of my brain telling me that I am not worthy or good enough because I was rejected by people who had no idea how to be in the types of relationships that I want to be in (which, to be clear, is not unreasonable. My relationship expectations are actually so wildly reasonable that it is ridiculous)?
I sat and gaped at this wise, drunk stranger for a few minutes, unable to articulate the cataloging of thirty years of negative self-thought that I was doing in that moment. After sifting through portions of the multitude of thoughts racing through my mind, I snapped out of it, forced this man to hug me, thanked him, and made the decision that I am now running with at full speed.
I'm fucking valuable. I am a real-live amazing woman who doesn't need anything more than what she has right now. I am enough for the people in my life, and until something more exciting comes along? I am more than enough for me. I'm finding this peace in my own little heart all by myself that is allowing me to grow my confidence, my love, and my insatiable excitement for existing, and I don't think that I could be more delighted about that if I wanted to be.
I am so unbelievably content most days because I know that I am at peace with me now. I can look in the mirror not hate what I see. I can take a step back and recognize all the goddamned badass shit that I can and do do (lol). I can see all the worth that I have spent the past fourteen years losing in shitty relationships and work and anything else that I could use to excuse letting my heart turn to bullshit.
That won't happen again. I will not let my personal worth be determined by anyone else but myself. I will stop listening to the hideous things that are said to and about me by people who are angry with me. I will stop placing my value in other people's opinions of me.
Because I am a dang unicorn anywhere I want to be, and I can see it now.