This morning, I woke up to sunshine for the first time in what felt like weeks. I stepped out for porch coffee and a smoke to see the sky all pink and gold over my sister's suburban home. Everyone knows about the positive effects of natural light on the human temperament. The tension in my body and face melted away, and I took a deep breath of clean, chilly morning air.
I'm moving out of my house, and I'm quitting casual sex. I don't know where I'm going to live next, but I can't stay there. It's just not working. I'm crashing with buddies whenever I can't take it, but I officially don't have a home on Nov. 1. I'm nervous, but I love myself. It'll work out.
Maybe I should tough it out until I have permanent new digs, or maybe I should just relax and crack open a beer. Plenty of people have recommended one or the other to me; mostly the latter. Years ago, I would have thought the same thing: I would have told myself that I was being stuck-up for not wanting to drink my weight in poison or sleep with strangers. I know people who still brag about how well they drive while shit-faced; years ago, I was glad to let them practice their talents with me in the passenger seat.
Nowadays, I love myself. I can't abide by a situation that makes me unhappy or makes me feel unsafe. This is a corny sentiment, but time is linear. We can't undo bad decisions from our pasts. We can't take anything back. We have to make our present awesome, so that the future is even more awesome and we don't repeat the dumb shit of our antiquity. The day I realized that, I started fleekin'. Things got better, great opportunities emerged, beautiful people rolled in, and life became great.
I mention the morning because I am glad to have my mornings back. I feel nothing but gratitude when I see a sunrise. Until a few years ago, when I finally started letting myself sleep, I hadn't seen a sunrise since, like, 2008. Occasionally, I’d see one while leaving some no-name's house at 6 a.m. after always-bad sex, but not anymore.
Just last week, a person I really like asked me a question about myself, and that sliver of attention was way more fulfilling than pantomiming intimacy with someone with whom I would never actually want to be friends. Because I love myself, and I am worth sunrises, and I am worth knowing.
Do you love yourself? If you don’t, you really should, and you shouldn't be ashamed to put your self-love on display. Loving yourself is not about ego; it’s about treating yourself with respect. I firmly believe in going balls-out in the name of personal happiness and well-being, and loving yourself can be bold as hell if you're doing it right.
We will go out of our way for our friends and families, giving them more than we'd ever give to ourselves. I would never let my sister live in a house like the one I'm leaving. In the past, I’ve been known to brow-beat rape survivors for not reporting their abusers, though I didn't call the law on either of mine. We wouldn't let those whom we love settle for the same treatment we endure personally every day.
That has to stop. We are not powerless. Life sucks sometimes, but most situations are not out of our control. When I think back on my most miserable moments, I facepalm, because I was so convinced there was nothing I could do to help myself. I was settling. I was choosing misery.
Not settling can often mean being uncomfortable—as I'll undoubtedly be as I couch-surf through November—but it's all part of working towards a better future for myself. I know I'll find a comfortable, affordable living situation, but I'm prepared to deal with it if I don't. Because I love myself, and I don't settle. Not anymore. Never again.