I’ve been thinking a lot about self worth lately. I’ve been struggling to generalize what I happily and naturally extend to my children… to myself. It’s been hard to believe God values us while I’ve been observing the unfair suffering of my children and reading books set in WWII. I do NOT have the answers. But I need to blog… I need to talk through and think out some hope here.
I’m going to focus on one little piece of the puzzle that is broken, missing, or malformed in my life. I’m not sure which.
This piece is disguised as:
Difficulty accepting compliments
Hunger for affirmation/praise
Self sacrifice to others
Difficulty recognizing personal skills
Giving but never receiving
For me, personally, it often looks like:
Working too hard
Self damnation for mistakes
Expectation of rejection
Impression of being invisible
It’s the piece of me that, deep down inside, when push comes to shove, believes I am special, beautiful, valuable, important, of note, and at my core… good.
That piece… is broken.
I have done work to fix the surface. I accept compliments. I try to think and move as though I am beautiful. I look at the things I do well and allow a sort of self pride. I try to recognize and acknowledge my better character traits. I have begun putting a serious effort into taking care of myself and my own personal needs.
But… but if the compliments are genuine and about something deeply personal… an impenetrable wall flies up and I feel a slice of fear or pain.
If I have depression that day/week/month, I can only take care of myself in solidarity with things I believed before I was depressed, because it doesn’t make sense any more.
Last night, I did some qigong before bed. It tends to “flush” my depression and refresh me in general.
When I did the following qigong movement… hands to heart… I was surprised by a powerful internal grief rising up. I’ve done this movement before… with the same experience. Even just watching it, I feel an echo of the ache of yearning and loss. Please… watch for a moment or participate.
Start at 10:25
A gift? For me? For my heart? The things my heart needs most? My hands… giving gifts to my heart…
My whole chest clenches and feels fragmented.
Tears are hot and stinging.
Why have I trained myself to be so unkind to myself? I grew up constantly hearing people tell me not to be so hard on myself!
It alternated with instruction to better myself. My parents, whom I love and who love me, are more likely to verbalize criticism than praise.
Was this the beginning?
But, I have a husband who is more likely to praise than to be critical and I’ve been married for fifteen years in my own home.
I grew up in a church culture that celebrates the beauty of self-sacrificial love… without the balancing wisdom of self love and kindness, appropriate boundary setting, or self care.
But I’ve been a rebel and haven’t wholly swallowed church doctrine since I was in Kindergarten. Also, I have been completely outside of the church for several years now, learning to take care of myself and to see myself as God sees me.
I see myself being critical of my children… demanding, correcting, judging. This is the easiest mode for me to interact in.
It doesn’t bear good fruit. Even though they need instruction, this is creating results I grieve rather than celebrate.
I see myself being loving toward my children… accepting, supporting, validating. This is hard to do.
But this is bearing the fruit relational closeness, though I don’t know if the needed guidance is getting through.
I dislike the dissonance of be hopping between the two.
But I want to go back to the “Hands to Heart” movement.
Giving to myself.
Those things that I need most.
Random strangers tell me that I am their hero, just because I’m a mother to children with special needs.
People who know me a bit tell me that I am skilled and that I do ___ really well.
People who know me intimately tell me that I am kind, generous, a good listener.
These compliments rub up against a big, raw wound that is where life and other people both close and distant have told me that I’m unwanted, unloved, unimportant, and rejected. In truth, I am socially isolated. That I have tried to develop in-real-life community, but have been largely (though not completely) unsuccessful is fuel to the fire of self damnation.
Deep down inside, I want to have confidence that when God made me… he made something good. Something that He looks at and smiles with warmth, delight, desire, and pride. To know without a doubt that I have been made for a purpose that is good. To believe without hesitation that he considers me perfect even in my very-obvious imperfections.
Does He accept me like that?
Can I accept me like that?
Fighting my demons.
Not giving up.
Believing that I am created for life, not death.
Choosing, in the absence of natural understanding, to believe that God sees me like I see my children, like I see the wildflowers, like I see other people:
At the core… good.
p.s. If you, like me, are struggling with mental health and emotional intelligence and self worth or depression… I was recently amazed to watch this self interview of a man and his life partner who has multiple mental health diagnoses. (SBSK is a pretty fantastic resource for getting to know people with a wide number of diagnoses and life experiences. It’s like the “Humans of New York” with a focus on people with diagnoses. In this case, he is interviewing his life partner.)
Alyssa’s 5 Mental Health Disorders (The Truth About our Love and SBSK