The following was originally posted here on a former personal blog. Not long after, I had a meltdown. Then, another and another. Probably more than I can count on my hands and toes. Whenever I thought I had turned another corner, something would remind me I hadn’t made the progress I thought.
I hit emotional bottom of the barrel March, 2012. I cried for three days, bothered a handful of friends with my constant woeful crying, and really couldn’t think of ONE thing I liked about me. Not one.
If I had been told, then, that I would one day start up this Project, I would have laughed cynically, then cried some more.
I felt ugly. I felt worthless. Most of all, I felt alone. It’s a strange realization to be the Loneliest in a Crowd, but that’s where I was. I was in a dark rabbit hole and it was going to take giving up on almost everything to get out of it.
The Myth of Insecurity is an explanation for those who haven’t been there. Those who only see the surface and think they are making no progress with a loved one who hates who they are as much as I did.
I am thankful for those who put up with me then and still put up with me now. I am grateful for those who never gave up on me, even when I gave them every reason to.
While reading on how to build self esteem and insecurity, much of the advice ranges from simplistic (write a list of your good qualities) to “Stuart Smalley” (“I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And gosh darn it, people like me”) ridiculousness. If someone is insecure telling themselves “I am wonderful” like a mantra, makes it sound more like this, “I am wonderful (I am lying). I am wonderful (I am so lying). I am wonderful (Just stop this now, you idiot!)”
The myth has been that you can never love someone until you love yourself. A better wording might be “You can never ACCEPT someone else’s love until you love yourself”. Because one can love quite deeply, but never feel like it’s enough. Because, no matter how much love they give and show, when they receive, they question, “What do you want from me?” or “Are you an idiot? Why would you love a dumb bunny like me?” They don’t find themselves worthy of the whole feast, so leave much of it and accept any crumbs that might fall to the floor.
People who love someone with insecurities meet a lot of headbutting aggravation. On the flip side, it is equally as annoying for the insecure one. Some scars run deep. Years after, the voices that tell you how ugly you are, that you will always be nobody, or that no one will ever love you still remain.
It takes a conscious effort to hear when people mention the good or say how well they think of you. By that time, it’s too late, because they have stopped, out of sheer frustration.
My favorite quote, that I keep in the front of my planner, is from Cary Grant. “I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be until finally I became that person. Or he became me.” That is now my daily mantra. ALLOWING myself to do what I want and to accept that there might be some people in the world who actually love me just because they do, and not because they have to. It sounds so simplistic, but it’s really not.
Do I deserve to be happy? Or it it just plain selfishness to pray for myself or to insist on what *I* might want? Is it better to be a martyr, because everyone else is so much better and should come before me? This is the thinking that has to be purged.
There are no real kits or step by step guides. One of the many thousands of books may serve as a worthy tool, but I haven’t found that one yet. Everyone thinks in a different way, so there is no one trick. It comes to finding it on your own time. Your own terms. When you say, “Enough of this!”
Mostly, it comes from having positive people around you. Those who genuinely love you and encourage you to do what you love. Those who are still there reminding you of who you are, despite the irritation. Those who let a butterfly break forth from its cocoon, but do not let you forget they are always there and believe in you. Even if it is more than you ever believed in yourself.
[© Lisa Magoch Johnson and Being Artemis, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lisa Magoch Johnson and Being Artemis with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.]