The Trouble with Falling off the Horse

Is that it’s so hard to get back on.

For me, self-esteem isn’t easy.  I had to fight for every inch of ground I took.  It took many years to get to the point I’m usually at, and I’m usually happy I’ve gotten this far.  The problem is, when I fall off that horse, it’s so hard to get back on.

This holiday season has been harder than most for me and my self esteem.  Some things have happened that caused me to revisit those old tapes, the ones that tell me how terrible I am, how insignificant, how I won’t amount to much, how I’ll never be successful, how I’ll end up in prison for murder.  (Yes, all of those things were said to me as a child, over and over.  Even the last one.)

When troubles hit, the easy thing for me to do is to listen to those “voices”, to give in and believe what they are saying again.  To embrace the fail, so to speak.  And once I’ve embraced the fail, once I’ve given in and let one of the messages take hold again, it opens the floodgates and, as the saying goes, “my mind is made up, don’t confuse me with the facts.”

I’ve fought hard to identify the lies from the truth.  I’ve fought inch by precious inch to realize that I’m not scum.  It has taken me a very long time to realize that I’m not deserving of scum, and that I don’t have to be grateful for every pitifully small morsel of attention (much less affection) I’m ever shown.  It took a lot of hard work, but I have learned that I don’t need to stand for being abused, called names, or anything else negative.

Yet, it still happens sometimes that the familiar way, the easy way, pulls me back in.   When that happens, it’s harder to pull myself out because I have a new thing to add to the “voices”.  The fact that I even fail at having self-esteem.

Yeah, I know, it’s absurd when typed out, but it’s what happens.  “I’m so much a failure, I can’t even succeed at something as easy as self-esteem.”

Except, the fact that I still struggle so hard with it, shows it’s not easy.   At least, not for me.

As a species, humans seems to need affirmation that they are good, that they are worthwhile.  That their efforts mean something (even if the effort is just sweeping the floor or making lace).  As a species, we seem to be social creatures.  Cut us off from the tribe, and we will usually do whatever we can think of to come back into the tribe.  (Of course, I’m not talking about people who are what used to be called sociopaths.)  In a healthy environment, this need for validation, acceptance, affection is a good thing.  It helps us to fit in better to the norms of society.

Unfortunately, the world isn’t generally a healthy environment.  Dysfunction is all around us.  Unfortunately, trying to fit into a dysfunctional society only makes us dysfunctional.

It’s hard to accept that I’m perfect, just the way I am.  I see so many things I have to fix.  I see so many areas I need to improve.  And yet, I’m okay just where I am.  Even if that means I’m following my own flute (heck, I don’t even follow a drummer).  Even if that means I fail at self-esteem.

And that is where I can get back to rebuilding the self-esteem.  When I get to the point where I can say “Those voices maybe right.  I might be a failure.  I might be scum and not worth anything.  I might even murder somebody and go to prison.  But I can accept that is where I am right now.”  When I can get to this point, I can start to re-travel those steps.

Am I a failure?  Maybe in some peoples eyes.  Am I scum?  I know a few people who look at my body shape and think so.  Am I deluding myself that I’m healthy?  Possibly (just because all my empirical numbers may be fine doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t have a heart attack ).  Will the world take away affection, validation, or acceptance because of my looks or my voice or my lack of profession?  Maybe. 

And yet, even if all that happens, I am still okay where I am.

Right now, I’m walking that horse, but at least I’m on the road, and since I’ve been on this road a couple of times, I know the terrain.  Eventually, I’ll be able to get on the horse again and cover more territory.  But for right now, walking the horse is a good place to be.

Because, even if the “voices” are right, I’m still okay where I am.


2 Responses

  1. Thank you for writing this whole post. Especially this line: “Unfortunately, trying to fit into a dysfunctional society only makes us dysfunctional.”

    I need that tattooed on my hand so I can refer back to it daily.

    I’ve been hearing the self-esteem boogeymen myself lately and it is SO hard to ignore them. I have a history of eating disorders and I have found myself casually planning to eat less because looking at my thighs has made me frowny.

    Thank you for the reminder that hating myself is easy, it’s loving myself and respecting myself that is hard. But you know what, it’s worth it and so I will work my butt off to love myself, just like I would for someone else.

    If nothing else, I’ll think of you and your bravery in the fight to inspire me!

    (((internet huggles)))

  2. Self-esteem is NOT easy. For some of us, it’s the hardest thing there is.

    Know that you ARE worthy. You ARE valuable and valued. You ARE a wonderful thing, walking and breathing and being on this world. You Are.

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