And Suddenly (after 25 years of therapy) I Feel Calm Inside My Head
I'm worried that this will all sound trite on paper, but it feels big and light in my chest, so I'm going to try to express it the best I can.
To 'esteem' someone is to respect or admire them, right? And the things that we respect and admire, we trust are whole and good, we take good care of, we speak well of, we provide for, we enjoy, and we protect from harm.
So, self-esteem is feeling worthy enough to take care of yourself and attempting to reject harmful things.
That's SO much harder than it sounds.
It's taken me a lot of meditation, medication, and therapy on and off for three decades to conquer the self-loathing enough to respect and admire myself and to enjoy spending time in my head. Anxiety, depression, and childhood trauma left me trying to control, fix, serve, and perfect, spinning myself into a tighter and tighter ball of worry and not-enoughness.
I was forever looking for someone else's judgement, an invisible boss or parent I could fail. Like if I maintained impossibly high expectations, I would never actually meet them, and the struggle was my proof of life.
I could see others' humanity and forgive them for it, but never me, never mine.
I was forever looking for correction and guidance, someone to tell me how to person because there was no way I was doing it right or could trust my own instincts. I've been terrified of being wrong, being selfish, presuming too much, taking up too much room, even in my own head.
I've lacked confidence, staying rooted in fear over trust. Confidence is "the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust," and I had no firm trust in myself. I knew what confidence looked like, I could project it and was drawn to it, but a true sense of firm trust in myself has been rare and fleeting. It's still really hard, but I'm getting better.
When you build a house, you need to have confidence in the flooring or you'll never feel safe . I didn't have any confidence in the house in my mind and was forever tiptoeing across the floorboards, certain they would collapse. But I'm learning that it wasn't that I'd built my house poorly, it's just that I didn't trust what I'd built.
I'm learning to doubt myself less, to trust what I've built, and to esteem it.
I'm just now- at 42- learning to trust, prioritize, and protect myself. I'm just learning that the inside of me is a precious place that needs and deserves to be grown and guarded. That my needs and wants are reliable and need to be respected- by me, and by others.
It's helped to slow way down and prioritize peace and stillness above anything. The emotional warfare still rages in me, but instead of getting pulled around by it, I'm finding a way to set down a blanket, settle in, and watch it like a meteor shower above my head. Often the show is colorful and has music, and eventually it always ends.
It's a less hostile place in the house in my head now. A sanctuary where I want to be, and I'm gliding along barefoot with my full weight across the floors.
I thought things had to be perfect in my house to deserve my respect, but I'm learning that isn't the case. Also, I'm learning how real boundaries work. People can go ahead and have their storms around my house, but I'm going to maintain my solid footing on these solid floors. Under no circumstances will I be leaving my house or giving it away.
My home in my head is allowed to be my priority, it's SUPPOSED to be my priority. So I don't need to worry so much about other people's homes. They're meant to be tending to theirs. And they can trust that I'm tending to mine. I get to take care of me. Other people get to take care of themselves. I think it's healing from codependency and moving toward interdependency? I'm still studying all of this and working on it in personal and marriage therapy.
I haven't been blogging much lately. I've been working on my novel and writing graphic choose-your-own-adventure stories.
What I'm learning is quiet, internal work, but I'll share it here if people are interested.
Be well. Take care of you.