Advice From Matron to Maiden

By Teresa Filgis

As I have gotten older and been around the block one too many times, I have encountered a lot of things. Some of these times were the most beautiful moments in my life, leaving me in awe of life’s treasures. Other times were so utterly devastating to my heart and soul that I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. Over the last 20 years, I have lived through a lot, learned so many lessons there are too many to count and realized one of the most important things. The most important lesson that I have learned along the way and something that my mother instilled in me as a young woman and has never, ever failed me is this:  You have to have mad self-love in order to overcome. You have to know as an individual how great you are, recognize your strengths as a person and at the same time realize your weaknesses and where you can improve. My mother taught me many beautiful things in my life, most of all to love myself unconditionally, never depend on anyone for my happiness and always to be able to stand on my own not just emotionally, but financially. She always taught me to be able to support myself, with or without a life partner.

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No matter what comes to pass, because life will hurl curve balls your way constantly, always love yourself enough to know what’s bad for you. It’s okay to lose your shit every once in a while because we all go through gut-wrenching hurt sometimes. But always maintain the ability to pick yourself back up, dust yourself off and begin again. If you know in the very core of your being that it is hurting you, whether it be with a bad relationship, addictions or toxic friendships, be able to know when it is time to let it go. Ask for help when you need it because that is what family and true friendships are for. It is so easy to get lost in heartache, to drown in despair. When my mother died I was a young woman, only 20 years old, and I had never felt such utter heartbreak, longing, and fear. I completely lost my mind for a couple of years, drank way too much, and just grieved. No matter how bad it got though, the hurt and anxiety of not having the advice of my Mom on some major life events, some things always rang true for me. I could almost hear my Mom’s voice in my ear, telling me that it was time to stand up and begin again. In the decade after my Mom passed on, I had to let go of some relationships that were not good for me, both romantic and platonic, and begin to see what direction I was really going. When these sorts of life events come about, as they inevitably will, love yourself enough to see that if it isn’t good for you, you need to let that pony run.

Please, please, please do not depend on another person for YOUR happiness and personal fulfillment. These things belong to you and only you, so love your downtime spent alone, seek out things that make you happy and don’t be afraid to do things by yourself. When I was younger and on my own, I loved going to a coffee house or café with a book or newspaper and just enjoy time by myself with myself. Don’t depend on a man or woman to make you happy. There is a wonderful freedom in doing things alone and you open yourself up to new opportunities going solo.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew financially. Make yourself a basic budget, know how much money you bring in each week or month, and write down what you spend each month. If you are absolutely itching to buy a new car, but after you crunch the numbers you realize you’ll have to eat Ramen noodles six nights a week to afford it, let me tell you, it’s not worth it. Be realistic about how much you make and take a good long look at your bills, and write down ALL OF IT. If you aren’t sure how much your bills are down to the number, do an estimate on the high end that way you are always covered. And please for the love of everything, don’t take out a loan or credit card for a significant other. If someone ever asks you to do this it is a huge red flag that they do not have their shit together and you will end up paying their bills long after the relationship is over. I have seen this happen a hundred times and guess what? I see normally capable, independent young women holding the bag for some freeloading bastard that wasn’t worth a damn in the first place. There’s one thing about building a life with someone that is on the same level you are and creating something awesome for your future. It’s completely another to be the sole provider in a relationship, with someone weighing you down because they can’t get their act together. Know the difference and trust your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right in your gut, then something is wrong.

Everyone’s situation is different, we all have different problems and issues that plague us. However, I have found that when you love yourself first, you will be able to love more deeply and completely in your life. As you get older you will pass these love lessons on to the people around you, especially your children, should you choose to have them. Confidence is a beautiful thing and as women, we need to embrace ourselves wholly before we can truly love another as they deserve.  As Shakespeare wrote so many ages ago, “To thine own self-be true”.

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