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By: Nia Burton

"The problem, I didn’t even know I was broken."

I wanted to come up with some eye catching title for this piece.  It’s about love.  So you need something to catch the reader to draw them in and make them feel what you feel.  Here are some of my initial ideas.  “What’s love got to do with it?”  That was too cliché.  Next on the list… “Self-Love”, too Iyanla and Joyce.  Then… “God’s Love” but that felt too preachy.  Finally “Love”, simple and to the point.  Nope, still didn’t like it.  Didn’t capture the essence of anything.  So what I give you is conversation about my journey.  It’s not pretty and it wasn’t easy, but then again, is anyone’s journey?  Mine was never supposed to be beautiful.  It was just a journey and I’m still on it.  It’s been messy and at times very ugly.  And I guess if I have to be honest, I couldn’t come up with a title, because up until about 2 years ago, I HATED love.  Love makes you vulnerable, weak, and scared.  Who wants that?  Why are we programmed to love anyway?  Why don’t we just form business partnerships?  Think about it, we can base marriages off of contract proposals.  That’s actually what I do for a living so if I can negotiate a marriage like I can negotiate a contract then I can work the best deal for all parties involved.  Well, it doesn’t work that way.   We are programmed to love.  

For me, that has been a terrifying, annoying, wonderful, beautiful, and scary journey.  It’s been all of those things for me.  If you would have told me two years ago, “Nia, you will meet the man of your dreams and begin a life together, instantaneously, as a family of 4.”  I would have laughed in your face.  Those type of stories were never mine to tell.  Heartache and heart break, oh yeah, I could tell you all about that.  Single life I had down to a science.  However, relationships, no, not me.  I sought out people I knew were not emotionally available for anything long term.  But why, you ask?! This stems from that first love, not puppy, cute high school love, but that first, “I’m out of my parent’s house and I’m grown”, love… that LOVE, that one broke me.  It didn’t bend me, it completely broke me.  And I was literally broken for YEARS.  

The problem, I didn’t even know I was broken.  I knew love, I saw love all the time.  My parents loved in both marriage and in divorce.  The beauty of love and the messed up thing about it, is that you can love who you want, but so can they. And honestly, I loved or lusted (depending on where my head space was at that time), who I wanted to and sometimes that person wasn’t me.  A lot of times they weren’t.  So what do you do with that?  I grew to hate love, distanced myself from it.  I didn’t need it, didn’t think I had to have it to function daily.  I wish my story was one of evolving into self-love and God’s love being the path I took, nope not so much.  I did find it and I got there, but I didn’t jump immediately on that bandwagon.  God and His undying love for me let me go and grow through the ugly parts.  The depression, the anger, the shame, turning my back on Him, family, friends, EVERYBODY… He knew I’d find my way.  He wasn’t lost, but I was.  So my path ended at me being broken, down on my knees.  I don’t mean figuratively, I mean literally in my apartment, broken down in the ugly cry on the floor.  There were no angels singing nor did I hear the voice of God.  I heard my own voice… “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  I repeated this verse over and over again for hours.  Then I simply got up.  From that moment on, I didn’t need those faceless, nameless people in my life.  All things in His time, not mine.  So I stopped trying to force things.  God’s love and self-love came simultaneously.  

On July 26, 2014, exactly one month after the ugly cry, I met the one God fashioned just for me.  There were no bells ringing and instant love, it was a gradual growth.  We didn’t sugar coat concerns and fears.  We put them out there in all their ugliness.  We didn’t mince words with thoughts, ideas, and plans for our future.  We laid some serious ground work, because we were serious and we knew a strong foundation was going to be needed.  He knew I was different the night we met and now my life is filled with love.  His love and our two boys, who I love and adore.

It has been the easiest and scariest thing I have ever done.  I’ve had to let the guards down around my heart and my thoughts.  Not everyone deserves that unashamed and innocent love.  They helped me remember how to love innocently and freely, because they, all three, give it so innocently and freely.  So here I am, happy and in love with a man who is a big kid and happens to be a wonderful father, who nurtures my relationship with God and my family and friends, he teaches me things daily and pushes me past my limits.  He’s reminded me of the purest form of love.  So no title, I don’t even know what to call it.  You can call it what you want… Unashamed Love, The Journey from Hate to Love, My Ugly Truth… I don’t know.  But this is my story… I hated love until I met someone who helped show me the innocence in love by innocently loving me.
Nia Burton, is a Credentialing Coordinator for a PT company by day and a certified Zumba instructor by night.  She  loves working out, reading novels, journaling, all things FOOTBALL...and of course, her three kings (four if you count her Min Pin).
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