Aristotle once said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
Once upon a time, he was my Prince Charming. Stunning eyes, perfect smile, and a sense of humor similar to that of his father. He spoke of his family often, the “dynasty” that he was from. A life that he did not choose, but rather was born into. His personality? Larger than life and easy to get lost in. The relationship was brief, a quick six months, but more impactful than he’ll ever know.
We met at Bootsy Bellows, LA’s hit nightclub at the time, in the summer of 2013 right before his birthday. It was the beginning of Leo season. I remember because when he told me that his birthday fell on August 4, I was not surprised one bit. He was the embodiment of his zodiac sign with a little bit more confidence, which, if you know anything about astrology, you know that this person was about to leave a lasting impression on me.
The feisty Sagittarius inside of me was intrigued by his approach in the club. Suave. He whispered a little something in my ear, we danced on the couch the majority of the night, and he even went and bought me a water bottle (not a cocktail) during the course of the night. A gentleman with a goal, I thought. And back then, that goal was me. Boy, was I a fan of that.
Life is like a box of chocolates, and you never know what you are going to get. At one point in time, I loved that line. As a writer, I can appreciate a good arrangement of words. At another, it was a tired reminder of a heartbreak that triggered my first manic episode, my second, and my third. As if the tabloids that he was in weren’t enough. Oh, and seeing his dad on billboards and Instagram memes that weren’t even funny anymore. I realize I never dated his dad, but seeing that man’s face everywhere was yet again a trigger for tears at the time.
I was lost without him and I had forgotten who I was prior to meeting him. The combination of my undiagnosed mental health condition and the wondrous thoughts about our breakup were unhealthy. Time healed all, as they say.
When you love something you’re supposed to let it go. So eventually I did. I forgot all about him, what he was like, his smell. I forgot if his birthmark was on his right butt cheek or left? Were his favorite foods still Mexican and In-N-Out? Did he still despise mundane conversations? Was his love for his mother still undoubted? Did he still cry while watching his father play an impactful role?
When he came back to me, I was 28 years old driving down the Pacific Coast Highway somewhere between Malibu and Ventura. It was August 3, 2021. Chaos in my heart ensued as I stared at this man I no longer knew, crossing the street right in front of me. I had two choices: use this as an opportunity to finally get to talk to a man that at one point in time I thought was the only one for me in this lifetime, or speed away before he got the chance to notice it was me, one of his many. I’ve never pressed the gas pedal so hard in my life. I didn’t want to be the reason to ruin his 31st birthday. Pressing on that pedal, I realized I finally knew who I was and I’ll never forget again. I’m Nia fucking Freeman, thoughtful daughter, over-the-top friend, passionate lover, writer, but more importantly, a girl whose personality will never allow anything or anyone to dim her light again. Pressing on that pedal, I realized I no longer sought relief through my grief and slammed the gas toward my very own freedom.
I’ve recognized that love is my trigger. And because of that, I choose wisely now. Not that I’ve chosen wrong in the past, because everything happens for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Wiser in the sense that this time around I’m on the hunt for my match. Someone whose personality won’t outshine mine, but complement it. Because the little girl inside of me who always dreamed of her Prince Charming (due to way too many papi-daughter trips to Disneyland) still has hope that someday he’ll come to me and sweep me off my feet.
The three most important lessons that I learned from this short-lived relationship are:
This list will keep you aligned with your values and morals. It will be a reminder of the things you will not put up with, no matter what.
Compromise is essential for all lasting relationships. It maintains balance and keeps both parties happy.
The flame that ignites when you find a partner-in-crime is fleeting. Search for a best friend instead. A confidant, if you will. A person who loves you when you’re out of control, or when you’re overweight, and even on the days when you don’t love yourself.
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