Self-esteem is something I’ve been told that I don’t have many, many times by many caring and considerate professionals. They mean no harm by it. They have actually been trying to bring my attention to it so that I am able to work on it.
The trouble is that I could never see what they saw.
When I thought about self-esteem, I saw myself as having plenty. Sure I had my down days but so does everyone right? I had no idea that self-esteem or the causes for a lack of it can be rather elusive at times.
When I looked at myself I saw a woman who felt quite good about herself. I felt strong, smart and resilient. All good qualities for sure. So why did these professionals say my self-esteem was low? A few actually said “non-existent`” but let’s not be dramatic eh?
After discussing it AGAIN during a therapy session, I tried to see what she meant but couldn’t.
Then last Saturday happened.
It was my very first craft fair and I was both excited and nervous. I felt I was ready but being totally new to it, I had doubts as well. All perfectly normal in my opinion.
I got there and got all set up in good time. My table looked professional and I was ready to go.
Then who should walk in but one of my monster-mothers best friends. This is someone who’s spoken very badly about me and to me over the years. She knows NOTHING about me personally but she takes my mothers word and feels it necessary to turn the knife whenever she gets a chance.
And where is HER table? Beside mine of course. 3 feet away and certainly close enough to allow her to do a running commentary for hours (7 to be exact) about what she thinks about me and my every move.
I handled it like a pro. No matter what she did or said, I remained calm and polite with her. I have a mantra that I live by that says “How other people treat you is their karma. How you react is yours.”. That day my karma should have been bloating itself with pride. 😉 I refused to sink to her level or take part in being hate-filled. It just isn’t going to happen. That is not who I am. That is NOT saying that I didn’t want to punch her in the face or sew her lips shut but no one including her would have ever known my frustration.
Back to self-esteem. This is where it kicks in.
I went home, told my husband and friends about my day. The good and the noisy.
I tried to just drop it there and forget about it.
In is honestly not one bit important what this person thinks, feels or says about me. She does not know me and her feelings are 100% based on lies she’s been told by my monster-mother.
So then why did I begin to unravel?
Why did I begin to feel as though I was not worthy of people thinking good things about me?
Why did I accept that things would never change because I didn’t deserve them to?
Why did every nasty, unloving, hurtful, hate-filled word that I was called as a child by the monster suddenly feel like that was my truth of who I really am?
Why did the pain my family has caused me over the years suddenly feel like the words from the gospel? Irrefutable.
Why did I immediately go back to thoughts of severe depression and suicide with the thought in my head that life would never be any better?
Why did I feel that there was only one (illegal) way to handle this situation to just make it all stop?
And the very worst thoughts? What if it is me? What if I am the problem and truly have been all along?
Why did I feel unworthy, uncared for, smaller than small, hopeless, and completely unable to see the good in myself when dealt this blow?
Well actually? The lack of it.
I could finally see why these professionals have tried so hard to make me work on my self-esteem when I was incapable of knowing what the heck they were talking about. They were right. My self-esteem was horrid. I should not speak in the past tense here. That is misleading. My self-esteem is horrid.
At least now I know what it is and I know what I really feel about myself when the chips are down and life is not filled with rainbows. My view of myself is not at all what it should be and so much of what I believe to be true is bullcrap. I wrote a list of all the words I used to describe myself and when reading the list back to myself, I thought about how devastated I would be if any of my friends or blog followers felt that way about themselves. I would spend every breath trying to make you see how untrue it all was. I’d be grief stricken if I was unsuccessful. NO ONE in this world is worthy of such disdain. Such hate. Such venom.
So why is it acceptable for me?
It is what I was raised to believe and it is what I was taught to be my truth. Those lessons sank in to the core of who I am and what I’ve become.
I am fairly sure many of you are reading this and thinking it is true for you as well so you know me. I can’t end on a negative. There HAS to be a way out of this crap.
There is and it’s possible but it will not be easy. It will mean digging up what you actually say to yourself when you are feeling badly or having a tough day. It is found in the names we call ourselves… fat, stupid, clumsy, clueless…
I decided to write down all the words that I use to describe myself when my world is not a happy place. I looked deep inside myself and admitted that the way I see myself is sad and absolutely not okay. I accept it all though. That is what I believe and saying I don’t as though some magic trick has suddenly evaporated all my negative self talk is once again… a bunch of bullcrap.
But now that my words are written down and I have accepted this is how I see myself, I need to start looking at what is actually mine to own and what is not. Rather than seeing myself through the eyes of neglectful parents, teachers, doctors or anyone else that failed me as a child, I need to see myself through the eyes of the people in my life now. I actually asked some people to tell me what they think of or feel when they think of me and the replies were beautiful. They were honest and didn’t pretend that life with me is 100% rosy at all times but they showed me beyond a doubt that many of them see me in a very positive light and feel that I am worthy of their time and energy.
I need to work on allowing this to sink in. Allowing the good words to seep in to my soul in the same way the negative ones did.
It will be a process and I doubt it is something that you just change at the snap of a finger but I have started and I am “dedicated to whatever I put my mind to” (one of the comments about me that is absolutely correct). I will get there and I hope you will too.
We are worthy of healing.
We are worthy of a better life.
All that crap that runs around in our heads? You got it! Bullcrap!