This topic jumped out at me because of what two different friends posted, then deleted on Facebook. The first post was a personal note written about a situation that had clearly gone south with someone or something that showed my friend that they did not properly value her. The second post was a meme about what dating was like in 2015 and it was all totally one-sided, selfish and cruel. Neither of the posts was out of line or vicious. Both of the women felt the need to delete the posts after a few friends left encouraging, supportive comments on the first one and a “FUCK THAT!” from me on the dating meme with a statement that encouraged my young friend to develop an unconditional love relationship with herself and God because she is soo worth it. Even though they deleted their posts, it was equally clear that both friends knew their worth, hence the indignant status posted by one and the cheeky meme posted by the other. But it doesn’t stop the feelings of hurt, sadness and betrayal when you encounter or discover people or organizations you thought valued you, but found out in the end that they did not.
As I sit here thinking about how to begin, I’m finding it uncomfortable to remember back when I didn’t know my worth or value myself. Back when I sought validation outside of myself, from others. From parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins first, then from friends and boyfriends, sometimes a friend’s boyfriends, from bosses, co-workers. Eventually, a husband and children ended up being my world and how I judged my worth.
You see, because I had a single mom who was busy working, keeping a roof over our heads and trying to realize her own ambitions, she didn’t have a lot of time for me. My father was off doing his own thing, fathering children with other women, so he didn’t make quality time with me and my sister a priority growing up. I was also a dark-skinned, homely but intelligent child. Back in the 70’s and 80’s in the East, those things mattered in how you were viewed and treated. I was always the smart friend or cousin that other mothers or relatives told their kids they should be more like. Initially, I judged myself as others did and found myself lacking.
It’s how I developed and honed my chameleon skills growing up. I wanted to be anyone but me so I became what a friend was, or what a boyfriend wanted of me. I never trusted when anyone was attracted to me, not in the long run. My insecurity and lack of self-worth went a long way to ensuring that my marriage would never work. I was too dependent upon my young husband to provide me with an identity and sense of worth. And trust me, he had no clue how to do that and he shouldn’t have needed to. I believe we are drawn to, attract or seek out who we need in our lives to teach us and show us our lessons. If some of the lessons are hurtful, well, pain demands attention doesn’t it? It makes you pay attention so perhaps you can learn or grow or repeat patterns until they become apparent to yourself.
Looking back over my life, it was at my lowest points that I sought help, through religion or psychiatry, then eventually 12-step rooms. Each time I gained a little self-worth, a little relief from being the chameleon and drew a little closer to who I really was. Ironically, or maybe paradoxically, it was the unconditional acceptance and love that was bestowed upon me in the 12-step rooms- despite my best efforts to avoid or sabotage it, that helped me develop the strong self-worth I have today. Trust me, it was a long process and remains a work in progress. That’s why the title of the blog is “getting to know your worth”. Because sometimes life will put someone or something in your life to show you just how much you’ve come to value yourself. Or maybe it’s someone who has been there for a long time and you just no longer tolerate that THEY don’t acknowledge or really know your worth. Or maybe you come across a Facebook meme so absurd in the truth about today’s dating dynamic that you post it because it is so ridiculous. Because you know you are worth so much more than what passes for today’s tired, selfish and lazy standards on relationships and dating.
Those are the times that show you through pain, wry amusement, or a moment of clarity that your worth is phenomenal because they were foolish or stupid enough to not know it.