Yesterday I had a melancholic day so decided to go for a vigorous walk at the park to shift my mood. The sky was clear after a rainy and grey day yesterday, the air crisp and clean after the purifying rains. Upon my walk I noticed a wall to my left covered in a type of creeping jasmine plant. I stopped over, closed my eyes and inhaled deeply, consuming the scent. It brought back a memory with The One I Didn’t Marry (TOIDM). He was probably the closest I have ever experienced to what could be a kindred spirit, a soul mate. (Disclaimer: I am not of the opinion that each person has one soul mate, but rather that there are many potential soul mates out there for us all). One day TOIDM and I were standing outside my then home, talking about a stressful situation I was experiencing. Mid-conversation, I leaned towards the jasmine flowers and took a deep breath and said something like, “I absolutely love this smell” and I returned to the conversation at hand. He interjected and said, “I love that. I love that you do that.” For a moment I was puzzled, but then realised that he loved my appreciation of beauty, recognising it even when immersed in something stressful. He found me sensual and beautiful. I took a whiff of the flowers today and thought of that memory, which made me briefly emotional. There was a man who found me deeply beautiful in many ways, and my challenge now (and always) is to appreciate those aspects within myself, rather than seek a man to recognise those things in me and validate me. I need to validate myself, and proudly claim what is good and beautiful within. I remember one afternoon TOIDM and I were in the park, and I was sitting on the roundabout. He had borrowed his friend’s fancy Canon camera and took some shots of me. This was way before we had high quality iPhone camera technology. Later on when I saw the flawless images, I told him, “These are beautiful pictures but they don’t look like me. They look Photoshopped, my skin looks perfect, no skin issues, no blemishes, I look amazing here. He said to me, matter-of-factly and not as empty flattery, “To me this is how you always look. I see you like this, always.” Again, he fulfilled a certain need in me that no one else has been able to fulfil since. That was fourteen years ago, and I still remember these moments vividly. At that time, I was desperately trying to figure out what to do with my life. I was confused about studies and which path I should take that would ultimately lead to a meaningful and feasible vocation. I somehow felt that finding the right thing and studying enough would give me more value. I remember him saying on more than one occasion, “Getting a degree or two will not add value to you. That’s not what makes you worthy. Your worth is not attached to degrees and what you do.” That too was something that struck me deeply. Much of what TOIDM said to me time and time again, were profoundly insightful perspectives that I have so desperately craved to hear from a man my whole adult life . I have been wanting that man who can see the absolute best in me, believe in me, accept me entirely, and see me as worthy regardless. The inability of my ex to fulfil me the way TOIDM fulfilled me left me feeling deeply unfulfilled and unhappy, and he ostensibly must have felt it. Fourteen years later, I recognise that it is absolutely foolish to expect a man to fulfil me in this way. Do such powerful intimate dynamics exist between couples? I believe they do, albeit rarely. They certainly are not the norm, and I see all around me marriages that are more like settlements rather than deeply fulfilling relationships. My desire to have this craving fulfilled, is indicative of exactly where I need to work on myself. I need to make myself feel special, rather than putting myself under the artillery fire of negative self-talk. So I am now trying in small ways. In the morning when I wake up I might say to myself internally, “Good morning, how are you today? I am so happy to see you. You are beautiful to me, today and everyday.” I might look in the mirror and think, “Oh God you look awful” and stop myself and force a smile and say, “You are beautiful!” When I do yoga and am in a powerful pose I might say to myself, “You are powerful and capable,” and when laying in Corpse Pose after a sequence with endorphins rushing through my body, I might think, “I feel gorgeous. I am gorgeous.” If I am upset with myself for having said or done the wrong thing in a given day, I try to attune myself to what it is that is making me feel agitated, and imagine myself as a little girl. I hold her and say, “It’s okay, you made a mistake. I love you. It’s okay to make mistakes, I still love you.” The aim here is to reach a point where I have an unshakably healthy self-esteem, and be kind with myself. I do not want to have a man enter my life to fill a huge void within me, to make me happy, but rather to make me happier. If it is destined for me to not meet a suitable match and marry, I hope to be comfortable in my own skin, and respect and love myself nevertheless.