When you realise you can no longer bear your own lack of self-worth, and make a promise to yourself to do something proactive about it.
My head is, no shit, literally jumping alive with lice. Seriously gross. They having been unfortuitously bestowed upon my 5-year-old son, and thus me in added gratuity, since starting school just a week or two ago. And let me tell you, they're not doing a whole lot to help with my lack of self-worth!
It is the 16th of May 2018 at Government House, Wellington, and my partner’s special day - a man of whom I am exceedingly proud. When the Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy will say very nice, and absolutely well-deserved too, things about my (now) fiancé and his continual efforts and benevolence. Pinning upon his lapel as she does so, an honorary "gong" in the name of HRH The Queen.
What I didn’t realise, as earlier that morning I coiffured the updo I had taught myself from YouTube as a desperate containment strategy (for the nits), was how big a day this would turn out to be for me as well. The significant turning point that I now – looking back – remember it as.
More than just the day that I eat Government House canapes and drink tea from posh white Government House monogrammed cups, mock pinky finger sticking out.
More even, than the day that I strategically lurk within the shadows of hallowed halls, hiding out literally from any and all opportunities to be introduced to or have to talk to anyone I don’t know. Because inside my own head, everyone on this day (and most days in truth) are better than, smarter than and worthier than me. Which isn’t accurate, but ultimately your perspective is your reality …isn’t this true?
And much more than the day (again, along with most days) that I cannot accept compliments about anything from anyone. Especially re the only dress I can bring myself to put on but hate (except for the fact that it hides most of my body at least, like a sack) and the “do” of course. Deflecting them all with the same lame awkward brush-off responses that I’ve long ago deftly equipped myself with.
All of this is about so much more than simply being an introvert or sometimes a bit shy - although I can be both these things - but rather, two real and inconveniently conflicting fears that I've carried around unwittingly for a while. You see, back at this time, I am afraid and angry in equal measure of being both seen and not seen for who I really am.
I'm on a hiding to nothing in other words. Albeit that I don't fully comprehend this yet at this particular point in time. And nowadays, as the "future me", it is all I can do to look back with amazement and compassion at how my lack of self-worth had manifested itself so thoroughly into my being.
Change, often, is a gradual evolution. Like a scale or continuum you slide along, from initially being nearer one end to edging closer to the other over time. Sometimes it’s not even particularly clear where things started happening or when you can tick them off as officially done and dusted (if at all). However, if there was a particular moment, a critical point per se, when it dawned upon me that the pain of staying like this – pinned down by a bigger than Ben-Hur sized lack of self-worth – was heavily outweighing any discomfort that inviting change might invoke ...well, it was definitely here, back on this day.
When the realisation (finally) hit that I’d let my lack of self-worth and self-confidence fester so long and so deep, that it stopped me from being me or even knowing who me was. The day I knew for sure that I needed to make change if I wanted to truly feel good about life, and about myself. Hiding out in the shadow of others – because it was easier and safe – was no longer enough.
I had known for some time, of course, that I had self-worth issues. I mean, while my confidence was functioning at a far from optimum level, there was nothing wrong with my intellect. My masks were landsliding even to myself and it's not called the "bleeding obvious" for nothing. What can I say - denial has its own comforts, likewise self-sabotage.
All of this, even now, feels neither particularly cool nor sparkly – and definitely outrageously vulnerable – to admit. I suspect some folk may even be embarrassed for (or perhaps by) me choosing to talk so openly about this.
And yes, I still find myself asking of myself at times: is this really a good idea, to be putting out into the world at large admissions of such great white impediments and fears? Or... should I just continue to be ashamed of who I was / am?
Then I quickly interject this inner critic self because, quite frankly, BOLLOCKS TO THAT. I'm no longer interested in anything where putting myself down is involved.
Since that day, over time of repatriation back to myself …I have, and continue to, learn so much (including how to annihilate headlice reappearances quickly, naturally & with much gusto!) re how to help build myself up. To explore different ways of truly empowering myself, and the results thereof.
Such as, always trying to remember that:
> so much of who we are, how we each think and respond to even the smallest of things, and what we do (or don't do as the case may be) harks back hugely to our individual past experiences & conditioning, and the likely largely subconscious impact that's had on our brain & therefore our approach to life;
> we can absolutely retrain our brain and these default responses if they're not working for us, should we really want and feel ready to. Our life from here on in (at any point; it's never too late) really is based on the choices that only we can make and follow through on for ourselves;
> if we struggle to be able to make or follow through on such choices THERE IS HELP AVAILABLE. Mine came in the form of an amazing clinical psychologist and a model called Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (and as this may not be very widely advertised, here in New Zealand there are situations where counselling / therapy can be fully funded if finances are a problem). Since then, my fascination with and personal exploration of ever-advancing brain science has extended out further;
> getting uncomfortable is more often than not unavoidable, but it's also typically where the absolute gold is. While challenging ourselves is uncomfortable, not doing so is uber uncomfortable too, so choose your hard basically;
> being gentle with ourselves and taking plenty of time to do the things that build thy sense of self up is not selfish or stupid or to be shoved to the bottom of the To Do List, but is an essential ongoing daily habit for positive wellbeing;
> and oh, that the perspectives we choose to adopt and habituate are everything!
I'm still on a journey, of course, we all are surely? But that particular day has brought me here and who knows onto where in the future. This, I'm incredibly grateful for. To being able to subdue my inner critic's rantings and instead consciously dictate direction of my own life. To now know & literally embody that:
The light in which others may or may not choose to see us is largely irrelevant, not to mention completely outside our control. Of much, much more critical importance is how we see ourselves.
We are all worthy, we all matter. We can all make change for ourselves. I'm here to encourage & hold space for you if you would find this helpful xx
P.S. If you liked this, check out more true stories.