Oh wow, are they for me?!? Many a February 14th I’ve heard smug squeals of joy coming from down the corridor in the office over a delivery of red roses. It has the ability to fill singletons with dread and that used to be me and I felt pangs of jealousy that I didn’t have someone to send me flowers. Why should one day out of 365 in the calendar make those who haven’t yet found a partner or are happily single feel that they are alone or not loveable. We all know that V Day is a commercial exercise for card shops and the likes of M&S and restaurants to sell cards, chocolates, flowers, champagne and meals at an inflated price to keep them going after the post-Christmas slump….yet we still crave acknowledgment that we are loved.
I was often asked why I was single. After all I had a great job, my own flat and loads of friends and a loving family. Apparently I had a pretty face. If only I had a pound for every time someone said that to me.
Things changed for me when I had friends over for dinner to bring in the new year. One of my gay best friends Greg, not one to beat around the bush, asked me what I wanted to achieve in the coming year. I made some comment about achieving more at work. He then looked me in the eye and said Charlotte, what do YOU want to achieve this year. This was the first time I said it out loud and admitted that I wanted to try losing some weight. I’m the kind of person who when my mind is made up, I charge forward and I make things happen. I decided that 2016 was going to me my year and in that year I lost 10 stone.
I want to add a disclaimer to this. I am absolutely NOT advocating that losing weight solves all your issues. It totally doesn’t! It won’t make someone love you, it won’t bring you success and it won’t magic the perfect home/job/friends/family. Admitting out loud that I wanted to lose weight helped me achieve something much more which I think has ultimately led me to find Mr O. I learnt to love myself and helping myself by starting my weight loss journey was an act of self-love which then spring boarded me into a positive way of thinking. Never under estimate the power of positive mental attitude.
Keeping positive doesn’t just happen overnight and it’s something I have to work on and will need to continue working on. I have this inner voice who I like to call Nora Twatty who comes out occasionally (usually when I’m tired or a bit hormonal) and tells me that I’m not good enough, tells me that the baggy skin I’ve been left with as a result of a huge weight loss is ugly and that I should cover it up. Nora plays a part in my life and I don’t think she will ever fully go away and I think it’s good she comes to the table now and again if only to make me more determined to get back up and prove her wrong.
As I lost weight, my confidence grew and I learnt to love myself. I showed love to myself by fuelling my body with nutritional, wholesome food, I gave myself an endorphin high by going to the gym and building up the intensity gradually and had a fortnightly manicure and pedicure instead of sitting on the sofa eating my feelings. People told me that the sparkle which had always been within me was showing on the outside in my eyes and smile. When I look back through my camera roll on my phone I can see over the weeks and months that I was coming into the spot light rather than trying to hide into the back ground of the photograph.
With this confidence and new found positivity I decided that I’d put myself out into the dating world. I had nothing to lose but potentially so much more to gain. I put my Simon Cowell hat on and was very choosy as to whom got a swipe right off me. I went on a lot of dates and for once in my life I went with zero expectations. I wasn’t imagining him being “the one” and me becoming Mrs What’s His Face. I just went along and enjoyed being present in the moment. There were a couple of bumps in the road, I was heartbroken once and it was at that point in March 2017 when I thought about jacking it all in. I sat in the Starbucks in Covent Garden as I was early for another date and I was very close to not going. Nora Twatty said what’s he going to like about you? You’re just wearing jeans and a jumper. Instead of thinking of what it might not be I focused on the might be’s. Even if I didn’t like him, I like rugby and steak (and yes in an age of female emancipation where we are all supposed to be equals I hoped that he’d buy me my fillet steak).
Self-love and positivity ultimately led me to meet Mr O. I feel so lucky to have met him in that pub one Saturday and the fun has continued until today however that would never have happened if I hadn’t learnt how to show myself love. Do I need him to buy me red roses to know that he loves me? I do love flowers (take note Mr O) but if I want flowers I walk to Colombia Road market on a Sunday and pick the ones that I want. Walking to Colombia Road is showing my body love as exercise helps not only my fitness (and I seriously wouldn’t have been able to have done that at 27 stone) but it gives me the peace and headspace in a busy, hectic city. I can just put my headphones in and listen to music and have the time out for me. Every week however I like to imagine that I’ve bought myself 21 red roses. These 21 roses represent every meal (breakfast/lunch/dinner) for the 7 days of the week. I do try to eat well but we only have life so if I do have a treat on one of those days it doesn’t mean that the rest of the week is wasted. If one of my 21 roses wilted i wouldn’t throw away the whole bunch.
So happy Valentine’s Day to YOU. Say it to yourself. Tell yourself that you love YOU. The relationship you have with yourself is the most significant, challenging and exciting and if you can find the person who loves the you that you love, then that is just fabulous.