Archive for low self esteem
I reached a point in my adult life where I found myself wondering why some people who seemed to be so nice to other people, were not so nice to me. I realized as I grew in this process of emotional healing that it had a lot to do with my own inner value. It was as though people could “see” how much I would put up with. My worth, before I emerged from broken had a lot to do with what I could do for others. I thought that my value was in what I had to offer. A lot of people took advantage of me and used me. I did a lot of service work but wasn’t really appreciated for it. I tried not to do if for the appreciation, but when people treated me like I didn’t matter, it really hurt me. I bent over backwards to “be good enough to deserve acceptance.”
I had to learn to value myself ~ enough to call them on it. I had to realize that they were wrong to treat me that way and if I let it go, they were likely to keep doing it. I had to care enough about me to reject that kind of treatment. I had to realize that when people talk down to me, it doesn’t define me as beneath them. On the other hand I also had to learn that when people fall all over themselves to be with me, that doesn’t define me as worthy either. That was the false definition of love and acceptance that I had to come to understand in this process of emotional healing.
This was a huge part of my recovery process.
First I had to own my anger at this injustice towards me as a person. I had to own my equality and believe in myself. Instead of constantly asking myself what was wrong with me and searching my heart for how I could be worthy of love and respect, I started to ask myself why people felt they had permission to Read More→
Yesterday I suddenly thought about how abusive this statement is when I think about it through the eyes of myself as a child! You reap what you sow, you get what you deserve. I was raised with this expression. I was raised to believe that whatever was in my life or NOT in my life was my fault. That if I had problems in my relationships with people then it was because I cultivated incorrectly and I had sown bad seed. I was willing to take that responsibility because I had been taught that it was all up to me in the first place. I believed that I deserved to be picked on because I thought I was dislikeable. I believed that if I could be likeable, that people would Read More→
Some days are very difficult for me. I am always filled with sympathy and understanding for the victims and survivors of child abuse but on some days the whole subject just makes me see red. It makes me angry that so many children have suffered at the hands of manipulative, controlling and abusive adults. Every day I hear tragic stories from people who have survived very dysfunctional childhoods at the hands of horribly sick adults. I get really angry at what so many children are enduring even as I write this and at what so many (now adult) children have had to endure.
And these same adult children have been expected to grow up “normally” after having a dysfunctional childhood like that. I was expected to function normally, and have high self esteem to the degree that was manipulated and convinced into believing that the low self esteem that I experienced was my own fault! And this expectation that I should “snap out of it”, “grow up,” “get over it” and take charge of my life, was often communicated by the very same people who abused and controlled me in the first place. First I was mistreated, devalued and manipulated and then I was blamed for having depressions and other difficulties in life!
As Survivors of this manipulation and abuse we learn to accept those expectations and turn them on ourselves, believing that we SHOULD just grow up and be fine and dandy without ever Read More→
I talk a lot about realizing all the lies that were in my belief system. I realized that I believed I deserved to be treated the way that I was. But that was a lie. I believed that I was not good enough, and that I was unlovable. Those were both lies. I believed that I somehow attracted the abuse and even that I asked for it… and that was also a lie. Because I believed that I had done “something” to either deserve it or attract it, I lived in fear of doing whatever it was that I was doing that was causing me to be hurt!
As you can see, this belief system stuff is complicated and takes some detective work to unravel.
A big part of the problem was that I was addicted to proving Read More→
“Happiness is a decision”. Have you ever thought about what a guilt trip that statement is?
It dawned on me a while back that this statement implies that if I am unhappy, then I am deciding to be unhappy. When I was unhappy and depressed, I tried everything I ever heard about to get myself over it. I tried to “decide to be happy”. Oh I had brief success with it, yes, but not the enduring happiness that I sought after for so long. I got a little relief but never a permanent result. I tried self help; I tried books, affirmations and seminars. I took vitamins, changed my diet and exercise, bought new clothes and said “I love you” to myself in the mirror and did other affirmations. I quit coffee, quit drinking alcohol and quit smoking and I improved my lifestyle. I WANTED to be happy. I wanted to believe that life was worth living. It just didn’t seem to be that easy! If happiness is merely a decision… then Read More→
The last few blog posts have covered how our feelings can get shut down, but what about our thoughts? Have you ever thought about how you were taught to think, or taught not to think?
In recovery and emotional healing, I hear people say all the time that when they are asked the question “what do you think?” they just jam up. That they don’t know how to respond to that question in the same way that people freeze when asked how they are feeling.
Just as we learn to shut down our own feelings as a result of being told over time that they are “wrong” or that we don’t actually feel them”, learning to doubt our thoughts and opinions and to shut them down also happens in a very similar way. The details are different, but the damage is very comparable.
I have heard children trying to contribute to the conversation with the statement “well I think …” and the adult (or the bully) in the situation will respond by saying; Read More→
Since it is father’s day, and not all of us have a great relationship with a father, I thought I would write something about difficult father daughter relationships. I have a father who is still alive and sometimes I wish I could write more about him, but there just isn’t much to say. To put it bluntly, he can’t be bothered with me. This relationship that I had with my father is equally as dysfunctional and devaluing as the relationship I had with my mother, it was just “different.” I spent years as a child trying to get his attention, but I failed to capture his interest. I used to think that perhaps if I were a boy like my brother who was gifted in sports he would have noticed me, or perhaps that was only about the sports and not really about my brother.
My father is really into himself. He has this sort of happy go lucky personality and I always thought he was great with people but the truth is that he is really terrible at relationships. He is really only interested in Read More→
After I wrote my Mother’s day post, the comments and emails inspired me to write this additional post. It is not my usual style; more of a collection of snapshots, but I believe it gets the point across.
~Why didn’t you hear me when I told you I was being abused?
~Why didn’t you see me as a person?
~Why didn’t you fight for me?
~Why did you disregard my feelings, my pain, my existence and my right as a human being?
~Why did you hit me?
~Why didn’t you care?
And the question that I never dared even think about, much less ever say out loud ~
Why didn’t you love me?
So I changed the question in my head to “why am I not lovable, not worthy, not good enough?” It seemed easier to face if it was something that was wrong with me.
These were all the questions that I had for the adults in my life; my teachers, my family, my parents. And I tried to deny that I had these questions. I tried to disregard them. I tried to shove the pain back down into the dark where I had learned to keep it in order to survive.
I learned to discount myself, just as I had been discounted. The way they mistreated me was my example of love. It was the only example that I had. It became my teacher. And I learned self love and self worth by the examples of love and worth that I was shown. And since the examples were so faulty and Read More→
“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding” Khalil Gibran
I struggled and fought for some sort of “place” in the world for a very long time before I began to find my way out of that darkness that I talked about in my last post. I felt as though I didn’t belong; as though I was different then everyone else; as though I was somehow on the wrong planet. My healing began when I was able to face the causes.
That was where I found the answers to all my questions about why I had struggled so long with low self esteem, depressions, and dissociative disorders. It was scary to face the truth about my past, but looking back what was scary was that I thought “the truth” was going to confirm what everyone ELSE taught me about me. And what I had been taught about me was NOT the truth. I had been taught through actions, inaction, voice inflictions, direct statements and indirect statements, inference and intolerance, nurturing or lack of nurturing as well as rejection and that others WERE more important and therefore more valuable then me, all went into a big melting pot that became the collection of all the experiences that made up “my life” in order to form my belief systems.
The ways that I was treated and not treated, communicated to me that I was not really a valid person
And then on top of being defined as invalid, I had been taught, mostly in non verbal ways, that I was the only one that felt that way. That “my problem” was something that was Read More→