Love Loved Loving Me

By Prentice Bush Featured in Little Love Stories Volume 2

Let’s take a trip back to a little Black boy who felt ugly and uncomfortable in his skin. I was that little, Black, Gay boy. Nothing about my existence was reinforced or validated by television or by the mirror. I learned early that validation came from outside of myself, that I was only as important, as beautiful, as valuable as the people who wanted me or revered me sexually. I was immediately shrunk down from being measured in feet to be measured in inches.

Sex, sex, sex, with all types of men. Looking for the mirror in their eyes, looking for them to take the pain away and qualify me as loved, as lovable. When the pain got too great I found the drugs and the drink. With my two new friends I felt powerful and I used them like armor and shield to numb the pain, to protect me and allow me to manufacture pseudo-love and connection over and over again. What I was really doing was reliving the trauma of not feeling connected and of not loving myself again and again.

For years I hurt and I ached, longing to be loved and missing the lesson, compulsively dulling my senses.

When it got too hard to pretend, when I got tired and the pain broke through the illusion, I was trapped there and broken; there was only me and I had to make a choice. Love was not going to come from some “him.” “He” was not some Gothic, Mystic, perfect thing that was going to save me from myself. Jerry Maguire’s, “you complete me…” was and is the great lie of love.

You see, an incomplete thing cannot love or be loved. It lacks the capacity, it lacks the humanity, it lacks the recognition of goodness. So I began the journey to finding myself, to loving myself. I accepted that God had always been there with me, for me, carrying me and loving me until I learned to love myself.

Today, I work hard at loving me, and accepting my past. Being a recovering drug addict, HIV positive, and Black has afforded me experiences that could either build me or break me. I choose to grow. I choose to love. I don’t obsess about my future because I truly believe that God and love will lay it out as it is meant to be. Yes, it takes practice, it takes conviction and commitment, but the greatest lesson I have ever learned is to accept me, to cherish and protect me. I have learned to love Me.

Having finally fallen in love with myself I can find and receive the beauty and love that exists and has always existed around me. Stop waiting for love, manifest it within. Find it, experience it, and feel it everywhere, every day. Love is a many splendored thing, and so are you.