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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Reconnecting with Myself

"I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see, and what it means. What I want and what I fear."
--Joan Didion

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you are aware that I have spent this year in a state of self-discovery and self-improvement. This has been quite the life-altering process as I have done more growth in the last year than I had done in the previous ten.

With everything that has happened this year: the car accident, repeated hospital trips, break-ups, moving house...the list simply goes on...it's a wonder I've had time to introspect and at the same time, not surprising at all. Great stress brings with it great change--whether for better or worse.

Some of this year's changes have seemed for worse. Lately, it has been brought to my attention that I am overly critical of myself. We all know the phrase we are our own worst critics. This year, my internal critic has been a right bitch. Completely and totally unforgiving of even the slightest mistakes. And to boot, I've been fighting her through the haze of all the stressors of this year. The language I've used on myself recently has been the very thing I would take another to task for were they to use it on someone I love.

Why, then, would I use it on myself?

It's become quite obvious: I do not love myself.

I do not think I am a bad person, I do not think I am an ugly person, but at the deepest root of my being, not only do I not love myself, I also do not find myself a lovable or worthy being.

Once I concluded this last weekend, a friend pressed me on this topic: "Andrea, why? Why don't you love you? Why are you unlovable and unworthy?"

Initially, I could not answer this question. I've always known I don't hate me and while I've been harsh of myself lately, I know there's no way I've been this harsh my whole life or I would think much less of myself than I do.

But in digging through my psyche, I realized I have never believed myself lovable or worthy. I have been told, "When I tell you there's nothing wrong with you and you are beautiful, you dismiss my words. You don't believe me." And this has nothing to do with the speaker, this has entirely to do with me and my self-view.

Now, I could go on and tell you what happened in my childhood that led me to this place. I could tell you of the drugs and the abuse, the absent and/or unavailable adults, the way I jumped between an adult and another child in the hopes that my tiny body could shield someone I loved from pain. And the feeling of utter defeat when I realized I had no power to save the people I loved.

In the end, though, it makes no difference. The fact is, I was a child. And from my child's perspective, I could not understand the grown-up things that were going on simply took more precedence than me and whatever I was doing. Later in childhood, I tried to make up for it by becoming a delinquent and miscreant, since it seemed to garner attention. Then, in late adolescence, I came to the conclusion this was not a sustainable life model and I began my journey to who I am now, carrying with me the most unworkable conclusion I had come to.

That conclusion was that no matter what I did, I could never be worthy or lovable. But that I should always try. My entire self is predicated on this notion. I have struggled for the last thirty plus years to make myself lovable and worthy, the one thing I had already concluded I could never be.

Damn. No wonder I could never feel secure in a relationship. How can a person prove they love me if, at my root, I believe myself to be unlovable?

So, then, the question now stands: What do I do with this information?

Who am I?

Knowing that I came to such an erroneous conclusion frees me to know that I am lovable and worthy. But without this notion of unlovable and unworthy, again the foundation which I have built my self upon, how do I know who I am?

The answer to this is really quite simple. I am still me. All of my values, goals, loves, hard work, remain the same. What is removed is simply the notion that no matter how hard I try I can never be loved. What is also removed is the need to be loved, the feeling of desperation, the feeling that I am not worthy. Don't get me wrong, it's not wholly gone, but it's on its way out the door, I can feel it.

And in the meantime, I'm spending time reconnecting with myself. Doing things I haven't done since I was a child, things that when I was a child I berated myself and called myself unworthy for. As silly as it may sound, I have started coloring. Actually went out, bought two coloring books and a box of crayons and sat down and colored some pages:

The simple act of sitting down to color has created not only a sense of zen, but a quiet appreciation of myself. Something that I did not do, even in childhood, because I told myself I was incapable of doing so. And here I am, finding peace in the smallest of activities.

But more importantly than peace, I'm finding love. Love for myself, my capabilities and lack thereof. My daughter sat next to me at the table and while I know I can't draw or color as well as she can, at the same time I know that I'm capable of anything I set my mind to and that anything I choose as worthy is worthy because I'm worthy. And that's the long and short of it.

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