"She lacks confidence, she craves admiration insatiably. She lives on the reflections of herself in the eyes of others. She does not dare to be herself." - Anais Nin
Wow, I can really relate to this quote. I have had issues with low self-esteem and practically non-existent self-worth my entire life, always believing I wasn't enough somehow - that I was inherently flawed in some way that could never be fixed. When my mother committed suicide when I was eight years old, my child's mind had to make some sense of the calamity that had fallen upon my life, so I decided that it must be my fault. I already, for as far back as I can remember - at least as far back as preschool, had felt unsure of myself, and very insecure - actually feeling completely unsafe in the world. Now, with my mother's death, all bets were off, and I decided that there was no way my own mother could leave me unless it was because of my own shortcomings. From that time on I told myself (with evidence to prove my point) that I was worthless - this HAD to be true - after all, what mother would leave a child that was worth loving? I hated myself. I blamed myself.
Enter Karen, the classic "wicked stepmother", who cemented all of these ideas for me. Karen was very ill - with borderline personality disorder, to be exact. She was full of self-loathing like myself, but had twisted so far away from her spirit, from her inherent being, that there was no chance of return. Karen was extremely abusive - her favorite tool was verbal abuse - characterized mainly by her incessant reminders that "you are stupid", "you will never amount to anything", "your feelings don't matter", and even "you will end up dead, just like your mother". Day after day, year after year the verbal abuse continued, along with control, manipulation, and physical abuse, with my father sitting silently by, doing nothing. My sense of self was non-existent and I loathed myself. I had decided that I was completely worthless.
I have spent years - twenty, to be exact, resurrecting my past, attempting to understand and heal these difficult beginnings, and the seemingly irreparable relationship with myself. All along this path, the shadow of self-recrimination stalked me, always there, undermining all of my efforts to be happy and at peace. Before I could heal this, the root cause of all of my suffering, I had to first work to uncover all of the layers of my experience - healing, understanding, dissecting, and it has been a long journey. This would be one of the last things to go, of course, as the healing journey is like a spiral, working the same issues over and over at deeper levels each time, until we finally reach the root cause, in this case my sense of worthlessness, and are able to understand and heal it, at last.
I now understand that as a result of my belief that I was worthless,and in order to attempt to compensate for such a painful emotional state, I would constantly look outside of myself to others for confirmation that I was special. If I could at least FEEL special, even if it was detrimental to me, and not even real, it was like a salve to this deep pain. I compromised myself over and over to get my "fix" - to chase the feeling of being special (which was a complete illusion), including a thirteen year career as an exotic dancer, promiscuity, codependent relationships and multiple addictions - trying to numb myself from the pain and appear special in any way I could. None of these things ever worked. At best, I would be temporarily numbed to the pain of worthlessness, and at worst I abandoned myself completely, over and over again, cementing the pattern ever more deeply.
Recently my whole life has changed drastically, with divorce, near bankruptcy, flare ups with my many addictions,the loss of friends, multiple health issues, the healing of a split personality and a new relationship - all over the last nine months. It has been one of the most difficult years of my life - wrought with anxiety, depression and fear. I am alone in a way I have never been alone - and feeling this vast space around me I now have no choice but to heal this rift within myself. There is no one else to lean on, no more life rafts, no more boat to jump onto for refuge. I am left alone with me. I have been intensely angry - trying to busy myself and to dive into my new relationship for refuge from myself, to no avail, for I have made a wise choice this time, choosing someone who does not provide a life raft for me - he challenges me to support myself. I tried, once again, to leave myself for the other - only to meet with all forms of anger within myself, with my innermost children crying, "why are you leaving us again?" I have no choice. I must open to the fact that I am NOT worthless - it was all a lie I told myself to survive in terrible circumstances - it was brilliant, for without it my personality would have surely fragmented into many, many pieces.
All of our life - the people, our jobs, our whole experience of life externally is simply a reflection of our inner relationship with ourselves. This is our foundation. My old, shoddy foundation of self-hatred has fallen over the last few months - my entire life has fallen away that I built on the platform of worthlessness. I am grateful. Finally. Now I must rebuild, and I find myself, at long last, finally in a place of willingness to get to know me - the REAL me, not the worthless me I believed I was for so long, but the REAL me - the unbounded, pure love and light spirit that is me, that is in all of us, and has always been. Now I can come home and learn to love her, for she deserves nothing less. It is up to each of us to make ourselves feel special - this is nobody else's job, and they cannot do it for us anyway. The love and acceptance we seek must come from within, and as we learn to love and support ourselves, our entire being, our entire world transforms completely.