Digital Cover Story: Love: But Me, First!

Does Self-Love Come First?! Absolutely! 

We live in a time when self-love and self-care are daily topics. So, we know self-love is essential to caring for and nurturing others. It is crucial to ensure that you are taking care of yourself to be in the best state of mind to give to others.

We sat down with our dear friend, Jamilah Mitchell, to discuss her journey from a Broken-Hearted Girl to a Happily Married Wife and Mother.

The Beginning

E: Share a little bit of your journey with us. (Take us through your “heartbreak” to the moment you took that vacation with your now husband.)

J: In 2017, I was madly in love with this guy, completely head over heels. I thought he was the one; we planned our entire life together. But you know, we moved very fast. Usually, that’s not a problem, but this time it was, so many things got overlooked, and the guy completely broke my heart. He ended up cheating; he was sending women money. And I found out about it. I looked at his phone, which we know we aren’t ever supposed to do. But I did. I was completely crushed. 

“I showed you to everybody on social media, and this is what you do?!”

He was the first guy I introduced to my family, the first guy I lived with, and the first guy I posted on social media. So, initially, I was crushed, devastated, and embarrassed. I showed you to everybody on social media, and this is what you do?!

 I was just completely shocked and heartbroken. 

E: We’ve all been there, is this when you decided to focus on yourself?

J: Yes… I went into this mode of completely working on myself; never wanted to feel this way again. I would take myself on the most beautiful dates to the most romantic restaurants; I was at Trader Joe’s, buying flowers every Sunday. I was so in love with myself that I could notice any red flags early on next time. 

E: What are some of those red flags?

J: A major red flag was his inability to talk through problems. [He would] brush my concerns off and make it seem like I was insecure and my feelings weren’t valid. Dishonesty is a big thing too. [He would] claim someone was just a friend, but he had a romantic past with them. 

Accepting Love Again

E: Jamilah, at what moment did you know you were healed and ready to accept love again?

J: I don’t know [if] it was a moment. I had a strong relationship with myself two years into the journey, so I was ready to dabble in the waters. 

You may only sometimes be 100% ready. Be about 80% prepared because even when you start something new with somebody, old things may come up. Thoughts like this person did do this to me in the past, is this going to happen again? In the early stages of my relationship, I tried to sabotage it. 

E. Hmm, Sabotage it. How so?

J: I just kept thinking he was going to be like the last person. 

I wasn’t hurt anymore, but I still had moments where I was hesitant and needed to check myself. Deep down, I was still a little hesitant. But my husband provided a lot of reassurance, and I was like, he’s probably the one. 

E: Speaking of your husband, how did you two meet? 

J: I put out a little meme on social media that said. “I hate texting; I want to go on vacation next weekend or something along those lines.” So, he messaged me, ” Well, where are we going?  

I had several DMS. Like I said, I was deep in the self-love bag. I had several offers, but for some reason, he stuck out. I responded, “I don’t know” – I told everyone that. But he returned with, “we can go to New York or Thailand,” and I was impressed because nobody had come back with a physical location. So, I decided to entertain it. We decided on New York because I didn’t know him like that and wasn’t about to go to Thailand with him, but I could go to New York because I had family there. 

It was Memorial Day weekend, and I had the day off. We went on a three-day vacation to New York, and it was the most well-planned, well-thought-out, most beautiful vacation I had ever been on. 

I told him what my interests were. You know you tell somebody what you’re into, but I didn’t think he would come with everything. I told him I like flowers; I like gardens. We went to a garden. We did the jazz boat ride. In those three days, he literally had everything planned that I said I was interested in. Not only was he very generous and thoughtful, but he was such a gentleman. He never had a moment that made me feel like he wanted something from me. And the rest was history after that. 

He’s the One

E: On that trip, did you know, or did you feel like, “oh my gosh, he’s the one”? 

J: I knew something. After you’re single for so long, and you meet somebody, you have that thing in your gut, saying, this is too good to be true. I’m not going to meet somebody this soon. I had all kinds of thoughts. But another side of me – felt like this is it – he’s the one. 

E: LOVE THAT! Describe the MENTAL space you were in when you met your husband.

J: I had forgiven my ex. I cut all ties. 

If you are trying to signal to God that you are ready for somebody to come into your life, you’ve got to cut ties with your past. Recognize this is a whole separate person. [ You have to ] look at him as an individual and try not to blame him for anything your past man did. 

Also, I was deeply happy and in love with myself. 

If you are happy with yourself, you won’t go into a relationship expecting him or that person to be the one that’s going to make you happy. 

E: From experience, we know you have to define happiness for yourself. And when you start looking outward, it’s never a good thing. So, what were some of that “Self-work” you did that got you into a “happy place.” 

“I would say forgiveness because I felt super unworthy a lot of my life.”

1. Forgiveness 

I would say forgiveness because I felt super unworthy for a lot of my life. The mistakes I made, for instance, contracting an STD when I lost my virginity, put a little hole in my heart. I felt like I was damaged goods, or if somebody found out about me, they might not see me as worthy. [You have to] forgive yourself and rid yourself of all unworthiness. If I didn’t, I never would have met my husband.

2. Journal

Journaling is essential; write about all your feelings. The best part for me is reading my old journals and thinking, “Wow, I can’t believe I was feeling like that.” Now that I’ve created a beautiful life, God will turn things around faster than you can imagine. 

3. Affirmations 

I did a lot of affirmations because I had a lot of years where I didn’t feel pretty; I didn’t feel worthy. It was just this massive sense of unworthiness because my mom was in an abusive relationship when I grew up. I never saw a healthy relationship. My mom didn’t have it in her to build me up, so I suffered from a very young age. I never felt good enough.

E: You’ve once said, “Self-love isn’t a destination; it is a continuous journey” tell us now, as a mother and wife, how do you continue to nurture yourself daily? You have other people to pour into daily; how do you keep your cup full?

J: Positive Self-talk. When I had my baby, I gained 60 pounds. I had all these stretch marks, all this cellulite, all this stuff – I was different. I had to build myself up so much day-to-day. That’s required after you have a baby and get married because you never want to expect your partner or child to do it. It’s great for them to add to you, but your responsibility is to feel good about yourself and confident. Every day I look in the mirror and tell myself, “I look so good .” 

I treat myself like a delicate flower. I will not beat myself up or talk badly about myself. The key is to treat yourself like someone that you love. 

E: Now, that’s a word. You wrote a book; tell us about that.

J: It’s titled Self-Centered: 21 ways to help you put yourself first. I talk about my history of the years when I didn’t put myself first and put myself in situations with people who were not worth my time. I talked about how I neglected my appearance, all my mistakes, and what I did to start putting myself first and how putting yourself first will improve your life overall. The book has a lot of exercises and writing prompts that help you identify why you aren’t putting yourself first. Most people blame it on time, but it’s deeper than that. If you are somebody that has neglected yourself, get the book.

E: That sounds amazing! Lastly, what keeps you struttin’?

J: My family, my baby – that is my core. They are my support system; they are everything to me. They are what keep me struttin’.