When I was born, my grandmothers say they knew there was something special about me. They both vowed to guide and mentor me through this life. I was blessed to have them invest so much of themselves into showing me how to love myself.

Even with all the love and guidance from them and other members of my family, I faced my share of hardships.

I understand  what is like to grow up and live in a place where other people have already decided what your life will be like. Where discrimination and oppression prevented neighbors and co-workers from seeing my whole self, and instead see me only as my race or my sexual orientation.

I understand that it is like to have your whole life plan mapped out by your community’s expectations, and be made to stand up when you have different plans for yourself.

I understand what it is like to have to fight for your right and ability to live your life the way you want to.

I know what it is like to have broken relationships that demand more from you that you are willing to give. I also know the struggle, sacrifice, and vulnerability that comes with repairing those broken relationships.

I have felt the overwhelm and fear that comes from living life beyond the expectations of loved ones and having to step out on one’s own.

I have felt the loneliness that comes when I’ve made decisions about how I want to live my life, only to have the people I love the most not support me and try to talk me out of it.

I have felt the betrayal of loving someone and not having that love returned in a manner that felt like love should feel like.

In the midst of all of that, I was blessed to have my grandmothers to teach me to develop internal resources, to trust my own intuition, to love myself enough to to live as a free person.

It is my desire to live as a free person, and the love that I learned from my grandmothers as a child, that carried my through my life, and into my career as a therapist.

In those moments of pain and struggle and self-discovery, I have learned to always choose and love myself. Every time.