Now that I have been able to get my mind a little more focused and working on becoming reliably objective about myself and things I both do well and not so much, looking back on who I was before feels much different. I don’t feel filled with dread at recalling things the way they were. I don’t feel bad about who I was anymore. Instead, I feel annoyed with myself for being so critical of myself, for being so relentlessly cruel and impossible in judging my worth.
Cruelty. Let’s call it what it was, because to be so hard on another person, just the mere thought of pummeling another in the manner I did myself makes me want to cry. There was no reason for it. The world is full of enough hate and anger and cruelty, but I added more on top. I heaped it on top like fiery coals in an attempt to disintegrate the worthless parts of me through self shame. The parts of me that others’ criticisms did not already destroy. In another day and time, I would feel loss for this. I would lament and cry until the tears could fall no more.
But it’s different now. I like myself now. Dare I say I even love myself now, and I have grown to love the child and young woman I was becoming then. I just needed to be more compassionate, patient, and merciful of my mistakes and failings. I needed to step back and see that the lens I was viewing myself through, my worth, my value, was not mine. It was theirs. A lens that was smudged. discolored. Maybe even riddled with hairline cracks here and there. But not objective. Not unbiased. Not reasonable. I used their lens because I thought mine was the one that was broken, but I see now that I was wrong, and it cost me years of anxiety and debilitating sadness and emptiness.
At one time, if I could have gone back and told this child fighting the drought, trying so hard to blossom in the scorching sun, deprived of water, that she was strong, I would have. If I could have told her that she was intelligent and funny and kind and generous and merciful and loving and genuine and forgiving, that these things were the things that mattered, that these were the things that make you a success as a human being, to leave the urgent chase of their approval behind, to just let it fall and free herself of the weight on her shoulders, I would have. That being left by one parent for the other parent to claim like a piece of unwanted, damaged baggage was not an indication of her worth, that she was worthy of love and someone, someday would see this, to just hang on, I would have. That her smile and laugh could make the room light up, that her friendship would be valued more than gold, I would have.
But, I can do none of these things. The time for this has past. And I no longer feel the need to. I did the best I could at the moment, and I choose to focus on what I was able to do, not what I lost. Not what others said I was. I’m not looking through that defunct lens anymore. When I look at these old photos of me now, I see someone different than I did before. I see a bottle of love, sometimes hard to handle with all my inquisitiveness and questioning, but full of love none-the-less. I see an intelligent, more than capable child who did not need to chase anyone’s approval.
She was worth her weight in gold, and I love who she was.
I am worth my weight in gold, and I love who I am.
To those of you who have found yourselves here, women and men, strangers and friends, let it go and love yourselves. The air of the world is thick enough with the stench of pain without being your own enemy.