These last few days have been quite eye-opening. I went from being reminded of where I was to shown where I am in a pretty dramatic emotional turnaround. Interestingly enough, I was able to pick out some key components why I still struggle with some of those old problems even when I have created a different reality for myself.
Bottom line, I don’t think I’m good enough to have good things happen to me. Whether that comes from my dysfunctional family, or the way I was brought up in a fundamentalist religious household, or some of the trauma I endured I can’t say. But that feeling that I’m never going to get the things I want PLUS I’m going to lose that good stuff I have remains a very strong undercurrent threatening to pull me under even when the surface waters are still and calm.
How to change this, I really don’t know. But I need to find a way otherwise I’m going to call all the negative stuff to me and inevitably reinforce that feeling of worthlessness. As the quote goes, whether you think you can or you can’t… you’re right.
I think the first order of business is to fall in love with myself.
And I don’t mean conceit. Conceit is an artificial form of love. It’s feigned confidence. Those who are highly conceited really are the most insecure, and have the most to prove to the outside world. Conceit demands that I make you believe that I’m awesome because I really don’t quite buy it.
Much better to believe you’re awesome and to hell with what other people think. A friend of mine used to say he wasn’t conceited, he was convinced. He didn’t need anyone to agree with him that he was amazing, and that made him more amazing.
No, what I mean is that I need to give myself what I so willingly give others. If one of my friends messes up, I don’t beat them upside the head for it. I forgive them and help them forgive themselves. When I mess up, I never let myself forget how flawed I am, and therefore undeserving of any love or mercy for anyone else.
To the point where I feel I have to hide all my thoughts and emotions because I can’t tell people how I really feel. If I do, they’ll surely bail. If someone loves me it is because they’re not hip to how f*cked up I really am. I can’t share disappointment or – God forbid – weakness otherwise they’ll finally wise up at how truly awful I am.
Then I’m left alone with the incessant Chatterbox, and we all know how that works out.
That stupid thing has kept me so wound in knots for decades… to the point where I can’t even blame my past for it anymore. I’m the one who has become my biggest adversary and my biggest abuser.
And for some stupid reason I believe that if more people love and validate me that will go away. Which it won’t. It never has.
I give my power away entirely too much… and that’s ending today.
Here’s what I know for sure.
I am a good person. Good does not mean perfect. I can and will make mistakes, because without them I cannot become a better person. I don’t have to have a long list of accomplishments to validate me, my existence in the world is enough. I have a heart that can love, a mind that can think and a will that can create anything it chooses to. How I use any of those is how I become better (or worse), but as I am today I am worth something.
I am a beautiful woman. Beautiful does not mean thin. How my body looks from the time I was born till the time I die will continually change. True beauty comes from the inside, and I am too loving and compassionate to ever be truly ugly. I may not be “attractive” in that men want to have sex with me, but I’m attractive in the sense folks are interested in what I have to say. That’s way more substantive than a dress size. I also find the beauty in everyone else, no matter what they look like. If someone else doesn’t have to be physically perfect for me to love them, then I need to cut myself a break on all my perceived physical flaws as well.
I am a talented person. Talented does not necessarily mean famous. Talented means I can write something that can touch or inspire another person. I take a blank page and I create emotion. That’s incredible! So what if I still get rejected? Every person who makes their living doing what I want to do has heard no more than yes. If I have a story to tell, I need to be telling it. If I write it, they will come. Just because I can be better doesn’t mean I’m not already good enough. I can no longer base my perception of my own talent on something as out of my control as a book or movie sale.
I’m a loving person, but loving does not have to mean doormat. As much as I fear being hurt by others, it has never stopped me from offering my heart in friendship or in love. If that heart gets trampled, it’s not because I’m stupid or foolish – it’s because that person did not appreciate the gift when they had it. But despite their mistake, I still find ways to forgive them in ways I never forgive myself. I hold myself up to an impossible standard, and then let everyone treat me poorly because I fail to meet it. Just like my promiscuous days when I was really young, figuring it was better to be held for a moment and used than to be alone, I justified it was better to have half friendships than none at all.
This past weekend full of time spent with amazing friends – the kind who care about what you think, build you up when you are unsure and hold you up when you stagger helped remind me that there is no substitute for people who truly care about you.
If I didn’t deserve them, they wouldn’t be there. If I was unworthy or unlovable I wouldn’t have a 30 year friendship to celebrate this year, or a nine year marriage, or two amazing kids. I also wouldn’t have a new career doing that which I love.
So it’s time to stop living in fear I will lose any of that because as long as I do, I can’t enjoy it in the moment.
The moment is all I have, and right now, it’s pretty great.
And I deserve it.