Love.

I’ve always been conflicted about Valentine’s Day. On one hand, I hate the commercialism, the “if you don’t buy me anything, you don’t love me” vibes some people give, and honestly think it’s a waste of time. On the other, even though I give love to people, I’ll give a token of my love/appreciation for someone if they are willing to receive it. It may not be a $800 ring or some random something-or-other, but the thought counts more. Besides, rings depreciate. Honest-to-goodness love doesn’t…most of the time.

From my elementary school days up until my mid-to-late-twenties, I admittedly sucked at Valentine’s Day. Hell, I sucked at romance, period(t?). Said ineptitude colored my perception of the holiday in the sense I said “why bother?” I’d give whole bunches of flowers to crushes in elementary and middle school like a dumbass (hi Brittany). The most I received back was an awkward thanks and a glare from one girl’s “boyfriend.” That’s my bad, because I didn’t know how to read the room.

For example, in the seventh grade, I liked this girl nicknamed Savvy. Savvy wanted nothing to do with me romantically, especially since I was an awkward preteenaged mess of child-like innocence and horny levels over 8,000. Being as such, shit often went left between us and I could come off creepy. Years later, I connected with her and said “my bad for being a goof. I meant no harm, but I’m sure I still caused some. My mother raised me better than that, so sorry.” Moral of the story: don’t be like Middle School Johnny.

In high school, I was so hung up on Treeka, I missed other people all but throwing themselves at me. We know how that story ended up for me and the Girl in the Pink Jacket. There’s no need to rehash that in-depth since dead horses need no more beatings. Moral of that story? Don’t be like High School Speed, either.

In college, I once got Raquel a bag of Reese’s–not even the Valentine-colored ones–and took her to a crappy Italian restaurant near CP. We may have gotten food poisoning. On top of that, I’d spoil surprises to no end. Sometimes, like this year, they needed to be spoiled for logistical reasons. Most of the time, I was just like “oh hi here’s your gift.” During the period where Raquel and I weren’t together, I opted for hookups and closed myself off emotionally, even when people tried to spill their souls to me. That’s mainly because I wanted to work things out with Raquel but also because I didn’t know what else to do. Moral of this stor…well, you get the point.

I’m pretty sure it wasn’t (entirely) the bipolar causing me to be such a spaz when it came to romance. It was more that I just flatout sucked at the concept. Growing up, I didn’t see much romance. My mother and biological father fought and argued most of the time. Mama Young and my stepdad had a good relationship, but it seemed like they were more friends than lovers most of the time. Maybe that’s how it is when you get older. When you know, you know or something? That said, not many people in my family had successful endeavors; some folks just bounced from person to person. That’s not a slight, just reality.

All things considered, the fact I managed to have two kids and have any sort of successful relationship with a romantic partner before my mid-to-late-twenties is a testament to there really being a God. So what happened during those few years?

A combination of getting my shit together mentally, the birth of my second child, Mama Young dying, and growing tired of being oblivious to love. I knew what it meant before 2015, 2016. However, I realized that I sucked at love because not only did I not see as much of it growing up, I didn’t know what it meant to love myself. I loved Raquel to the ends of the earth, but I didn’t really know how to fully show it.

To love oneself means you can truly love someone else. Why? When you love yourself, you know what’s good for you and what makes you happy. When you know that, you’re less likely to be hung up on the “I” in relationship and focus more on the “relation” aspect of it. That was corny as hell, I know. Dangerously corny. The point still stands. To truly love others and fully display it, you must love yourself.

If you’re single, practice some self-love. If you’re with someone, do the same. Yes, I’m aware of the sexual connotations of “self-love.” That’s not what I’m getting at all. If that’s what it takes to feel one with yourself, though, go wild. This is a judgment-free site on those matters. But whatever it takes to make you say “I love me some me,” do it. You can’t spell “them” without “me.”

And now? I’m going to close this before I start spouting off more cliches. Happy commercialized love day Valentine’s Day.

Speed on the Beat

Whatever you need to know about me, you can find out on speedonthebeat.com

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