So… after years of procrastination, mental breakdowns, and raising a baby, I’ve finally made good on my intention to create my own blog. Of course, this is one of many drops in a sea of blogs, competing on the Internet for your attention and praise. Well, hopefully, praise. Of course, one of the things I am slowly learning after all my years in therapy is that external praise means nothing when it comes to self-image, as it’s a fickle thing, dependent on achievement or some other quality that could be determined unworthy at some point. I need to nourish my own self-worth via internal praise, taking pride in myself without looking for that reassurance from others that yes, what I’m doing in my life is worthy, that I’m worthy. Not an easy thing for me, yet I have no problem telling everyone else in my life (especially my kid) that it’s not what you do, but who you are, that makes you worthy in my eyes. Sadly, I don’t quite accept this truth for myself.
I’ve often reflected on my favorite teaching of Jesus, to “love one another as yourself.” I always thought it meant I had to love everyone, and treat them as I would want to be treated. But I’ve come to see that self-love is a part of that equation- the “as yourself.” You mean, I’m not supposed to put everybody else first and act like a doormat? Or to shrink back from compliments and shrug them off with a “thanks, but…” (you can fill in your own blank here)? Being able to love others stems from a healthy relationship with one’s self, or else we find ourselves depleted and bitter from having given so much that it feels we’re being taken advantage of. As the saying goes, “you can’t pour from an empty pitcher.” And mine has been pretty empty over the years. Which leads me back to this blog.
I’ve spent almost all of my adult life in therapy, untangling the threads of my psyche, including the thread of low self-esteem. I haven’t had a career to speak of, studying various areas of interest but bailing when my self-doubt and anxiety skyrocketed. While I’m still not entirely sure what I want to be when I grow up, I know sharing my journey is a part of that. My self-esteem still wavers, but is strong enough that I can honor my struggles and trust that my words here are not blowing hot air, but are of value to someone, even if that someone is me. Little by little, I’m learning that I matter– not for what I’ve done or haven’t done, but for who I am, refined through the fire of mental illness and recovery.
So, as the Monkees sang, “take a giant step outside your mind”- and into mine. You might find a kindred spirit, a partner in the pain or the progress.