If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it…

If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it…

I can’t recall all the details about the relationships I have been in but some of the things I do remember I wish I could rather forget. I am happily married now and the way my husband treats me on a daily basis is showing me how wrong I have had it in the past few years. Everything I thought I knew regarding love, sex and dating was so far from the truth. I look at my dating history now and cringe. How could I put myself through that?

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I can think of about 3 relationships I have had with guys where things were just VERY VERY off. Stupidly, I told myself that I should just give it some time. I believed that things would get better and time was all we needed. I was so wrong!

In one of the bad relationships I remember meeting up on our little “dates”. I was so focused on the fact that we were starting to go on outings together in public that I completely overlooked the deliberate things the guy did to make sure it stayed an unofficial date… time after time. He kept saying that our relationship was meant to be a story untold until his dust has “settled” and because of his position in church he couldn’t rush the relationship.

Your first warning sign! If he has baggage that he hasn’t dealt with yet, GET OUT! This is not your problem, Lovely.

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All the signs were there that I needed to get out and get far away but instead I stayed. I tried to give it my all. “Only time will tell!”, I lied to myself. I stuck around and “saw the good” in a guy who only abused me. He broke me down emotionally and manipulated me. He used his mental illness as his weapon. It was his “get-out-of-jail-free” card for everything. And of course, I was to blame for it all. He often told me, “The way you react and behave isn’t strong enough to deal with my depression. You need to be better!”. And boy did i try! I tried for dear life! I was so focused on becoming better at dealing with someone with a mental illness that I forgot that I knew exactly how! My mom committed suicide when I was 12. My whole life I learned about mental illness and how to look out for it and show love and support. He got me so wrapped up in the lies that I really did believe that I was just not good enough and that I needed to do better.

Your second warning sign! His issues and faults are NOT yours, Lovely! You can only do so much but your partner has to step in and take responsibility for themselves.

Apart from the emotional bullying, I remember so clearly how he disrespected my body and what was mine. He would mock and make fun of who I was and when I’d ask him to stop he’d tell me that I’m boring and too serious. He would walk up to me in public, flick my boobs and yell out “tiete” as if my body was created for his amusement.

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As the relationship got older, things just got worse. I literally turned into someone’s personal call girl and of course, I wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone about it. I was caught up in a one-sided relationship. I just gave, gave and gave and he just took, took and took. Some days I got a little bit of courage to speak my mind but I got shot down with more lies and blame.

The night I got out was one of the worst nights. I had to pick him up for an event we were supposed to go to together. I arrived at his house only to find out that I was called to pick up all of his friends and take them through to the event while he drove with a new friend who “didn’t know the way”.

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During the whole trip I told myself that I shouldn’t overreact. I tried to calm myself down and convinced myself that this was normal in a relationship. At the event, he called me aside and asked me to please buy us some food. Obviously with my money and not his. I stood in the queue alone while he was socialising. I walked over to him, he took his food, tapped me in the face and turned his back to me. I was dismissed.

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The very last bit of me broke that night. I had nothing left and strongly believed that this couldn’t get any worse. I was so so so very wrong! As I left the restroom at the event, the guy had his back towards me and obviously didn’t see me. I walked in on him making out with his new friend. The girl he drove with to the venue while I was playing taxi.

That night I wished the earth would open up and swallow me whole. It was one of the toughest things I have gone through and a topic I never really talk about, until today. It’s hard for me to share the story about this particular relationship because we still have mutual friends. Some of them know about what happened. Most of them don’t care… Most of them shrug his behaviour off and most of them will not stand up for the other girls. What saddens me is most of the girls won’t stand up either. Instead, I can see how they hide in the room when he is around…. just like me. Without anyone noticing, they hold their breath when he is near, they fix their eyes on something else so that they wouldn’t have to make eye-contact with him. This is not right. Lovely, if you are in a toxic relationship, get out. You deserve better!

There’s tons of  good about a HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP. I have listed some of them below. If your relationship doesn’t have the following, what are you still doing in it?

1. Equality

In a healthy relationship, you and your partner should view each other as equals. One partner should not see themselves as “better” or “higher” in the relationship.

2. Respect

You and your partner should respect each other not only as partners, but as human beings and as unique individuals. This includes respecting each other’s personal dignity, wishes, and seeing value in each other.

3. Mutuality

Similar to equality, both partners in a healthy relationship direct the relationship as equals. Both of you should have say and input into the relationship and develop it together. No one person should be making all the decisions. Each partner has control in the relationship but is not controlling.

4. Communication

Communication is a key part of any relationship, but is especially important in intimate relationships. You and your partner should feel comfortable expressing your thoughts and feelings to each other. A couple in a healthy relationship may still have arguments, but they can either work these out through communication or agree to disagree in a constructive way.

5. Trust

Being able to trust your partner is key in a healthy relationship. Trust is established over the course of a relationship through showing consistency in words and actions. Trust in a relationship can be difficult, but it is extremely important.

6. Responsibility & Accountability

In a healthy relationship, each person should be responsible and accountable to the other person. This means taking responsibility and being accountable for their own actions and the consequences, and not placing the blame elsewhere. This can include owning up to and admitting mistakes.

7. Support

A good, healthy relationship should make you feel supported! Your partner should be there for you in tough times and vice versa. Couples in healthy relationships can support each other in the good times by offering encouragement and enthusiasm. Your relationship should encourage each of you to grow – separately and together.

8. Honesty

Honesty is super important in a healthy relationship! You can’t build a good foundation on lies.

9. Boundaries

While you and your partner obviously should enjoy spending time with each other, each of you should also lead independent lives. You should each spend time apart from each other and have friends. Maintaining your own friends and separate interests can be a form of having boundaries.

Additionally, with regard to physical involvement, you and your partner should be able to set boundaries with each other about what you’re both comfortable with and not comfortable with and these boundaries should be respected by all partners.

10. Non-threatening behavior

You should always feel safe in your relationship. You should never have to worry that your partner is going to intentionally harm you. Neither partner should try to maintain power and control over the other.

 

Lots of love

Leo

xox

7 Essentials for self-love

Do you know what self-love means? Quite a lot of people think that it is pretty much self-esteem and confidence together. For those who think the same, it’s not. It’s far more than just those two words we try and wear as a badge so proudly.

So what does self-love look like? Self-love is when you accept yourself. Self-love is when you like and respect yourself. Self-love is striving to give yourself the best life you possibly can.

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What the lack of self-love looks like:

1. You internalise negative comments.

2. You limit yourself by believing that you can’t achieve anything.

3. Other people’s words and actions dictate what you will achieve.

 

“You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”

It’s important to know that what you think about yourself impacts the way you behave. Self-doubt is poison and will slowly but surely cripple you. Only YOU can turn self-doubt into self-love. Have you considered lately what you think about yourself? Have a look at what is stopping you from going for gold.

7 Things I want to challenge you with:

1. Stay focused on the positive things in your life.

It’s getting too easy to talk about the bad. Negative thoughts have a way of taking over our mind before we even notice that it is happening. Try to stay fixed on the positive things in your life.

2. Look after yourself.

You deserved to be pampered. “Me time” is one of the utmost important things we need in order to love and look after ourselves. Treat yourself the same way you will treat the people in your life. Do the things YOU love to do and do nice things for YOURSELF.

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3. Write down all your achievements.

You are beautiful and wonderfully put together. You deserve to be celebrated so write down those achievements and don’t you dare forget how far you have come.

4. Respect yourself.

You need to remember to go easy on yourself. Stop worrying about the small stuff. Deal with yourself in kindness. You deserve gentleness.

5. Grow and work on yourself.

Quite often when we lack self-love, we withdraw from life and all the exciting things. We miss out on taking part in life and having fun without feeling the “eyes” burning the back of our skulls. Learn new skills and open yourself up to new experiences.

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6. Challenge yourself.

Experiencing new things and realising that you actually don’t suck as much as you thought feels amazing. Take it a day at a time but DO challenge yourself. You might just find that you have SO MUCH more potential than you ever imagined.

7. Stick to healthy relationships.

The biggest thief of self-love is toxic relationships. Love yourself enough to only invest in relationships who add value to your life. Quit listening to the negativity. Stop carrying other people’s burdens who only like to knock your feet out from under you while you are carrying THEIR heavy load. You need positive people in your life who encourage you and support your dreams.

 

Build your confidence and decide on what you believe about yourself. Self-love is freeing.

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Lots of love

Leo

xox

My Oasis

It took me some time to actually attend an E-Woman Event. Not because I didn’t like E-Woman or that I didn’t believe in what it stands for. I think if I had to be brutally honest, it’s because I lacked the confidence and I gave up on myself. I still pretty much lack confidence but I am working on it. In general, I struggle to attend social gatherings where I know things will get deep and well… social. I’m not sure why, yet.

When Bianca invited me to another event, my husband put his foot down and told me that I simply HAD to go. I am glad he did. All I needed was an excuse to tell myself, “Well LeoAnn, you can’t chicken out this time, you are forced to go”. Guess what, I absolutely loved it! Turns out, God had HUGE plans for me that day.

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Before I go into what God told me at the event, I have to share a little bit about my story. I am newly married and opened a new business with my husband 2 weeks after we got back from honeymoon. I’m 24 years old and have no huge savings and neither does my husband. We took one huge risk so early in our marriage on top of not having financial stability. When I was 18, I was diagnosed with PCOS and was told that I will most likely never have kids. This was, and sometimes still is, a devastating thought to me. I am the oldest of 6 kids. My mom passed when I was young. Needles to say, a lot of the responsibilities became mine. Only at the age of 24 am I learning how to be a sister and not a mother. At the age of 24 I am learning how to relax and find my voice. At the age of 24 I am learning how to be a child. It’s not easy.

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At the event, Bianca spoke about relationship and what it means to truly have a relationship with God. I thought, “mmhm got that done and dusted”. HAH! Jokes on me! She went on talking about having a REAL relationship with God and not a fake one. She spoke about needing to go towards the oasis when we are in a desert. She spoke about what it looks like when we are not planted by the stream. And that was when I realised how deep into the desert I was.

I constantly found myself feeling tired and that I couldn’t go on in life. I struggled to tell people how I take my coffee and whether I wanted to attend a dinner or not. I couldn’t voice myself because I belittled myself constantly and kept reminding myself that the one thing God made me to be I was failing in, and that was to be a woman. I used to think to myself, “I can’t even be a normal woman, what are the chances of me being anything else AND do it well?”. All I did was worry day in and day out. I wanted to know my purpose. I wanted to know where I was going in life and whether or not we will ever have kids. The unknown is not something I deal well with. But then she read this…

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Isaiah 32:15-20

15 till the Spirit is poured on us from on high,
    and the desert becomes a fertile field,
    and the fertile field seems like a forest.
16 The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert,
    his righteousness live in the fertile field.
17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;
    its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
18 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
    in secure homes,
    in undisturbed places of rest.
19 Though hail flattens the forest
    and the city is leveled completely,
20 how blessed you will be,
    sowing your seed by every stream,
    and letting your cattle and donkeys range free.

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Bianca reminded me that the enemy uses time to distract us and that it cannot operate in peace. I realised that I had to die first as a seed in order to be planted by the stream and grow to bare fruit. I had to stop with “me, myself and I” and experience the word first hand. I have faith that God will give me the portion that I need and when I need it. Until then I am going to enjoy the shade and cool water we find planted by the stream.

What are you struggling with at the moment? It’s okay to find yourself in a desert every now and then. Just remember to find your oasis and everything will be okay. 

 

James 4:8

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

 

Lots of love

Leo

xox

 

Show Up & Laugh

 

It’s rather awkies not being the one behind the camera but the one in the spotlight. I’m not used to it at all.

A few years ago I was pretty much one of the selfie queens. I can’t really put my finger on the day it all changed but I know something in my heart changed dramatically. I started loving myself differently. I started enjoying life and taking part instead of faking life.

For the past 2 years I have been a bit camera shy. Not because I didn’t want to take photos. I either simply enjoy our moments SO much that I forget to take photos or i’m the one taking photos of the people around me.

My favourite quote at the moment is “Take a selfie. Fake a life.” How true is this? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not hating on selfies. Chad and I are guilty at sneaking one in every now and then. I’m hating on the millions of angles we try out to get the best one possible. To which standards though? To what extent do you want to push yourself into a fake life and a fake you? What are you trying to prove and to who? Are they really THAT important?

I think one of my favourite feelings in life is laughing with someone and realising half way through how much you enjoy them and their existence.

This photo captured that exact moment. Awkward or not, the goal is to laugh forever with someone you take serious. Someone who actually shows up.

 

Choose Yourself

I have learnt quite a lot during my first week of holiday. Spending time with my family and my husband has done so much for me. It’s been quiet and I absolutely love it.

There are many New Years’ posts going around and I love seeing what people are putting out there. My biggest prayer is that this year people will be real with themselves and not be scared to be real with others. My goals for 2018 are real. I might fail 100x over but I will get up and face them head on every time. And I will not be ashamed to talk about my failures but rather celebrate the growth that will come from it with people who matter.

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In this short period of time I have learnt that:

  •  I am enough.
  •  It is what it is.
  •  My biggest regrets are often that I am too nice, too apologetic when I have done nothing wrong and making unworthy people a priority in my life.
  •  People may not always tell you how  they feel, but they will always show you. Pay attention.

My daddy once said, “Choose people who choose you.” So this year I am learning to walk away from situations that threaten my peace of mind, self-respect and self-worth.

 

Stay close to people who feel like sunshine.

Lots of love

Leo

xox

Finding My Voice

In a conversation yesterday I found myself talking about decluttering my life. I spoke about how I simply unfriended people in my heart that sat around like ornaments without a purpose.

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People who “loved” me when they needed something but disappeared when life got good. Harsh? No not really… it’s called being healthily selfish.

I started seeing all the things in my life

that simply take up space and make me feel

claustrophobic.

I took that a step further… I have 5 shirts and 3 pairs of pants in my wardrobe and I have never enjoyed getting dressed in the mornings as much as I do at the moment.
As of that moment I decided that i will rebuild my life, my heart and my home with things I treasure, things I actually like and people I actually love. And who loves me back.

I have changed, my style has changed and will constantly change. It’s because my heart changed and slowly I find my voice again. My voice that I will not smother because of someone else.