Friday, May 29, 2009

Deserve self-worth?

Self-worth is in short supply these days. Actually, all my life there's been no supply of self worth or self-esteem. At the Emotions Anonymous meeting on Wednesday the topic was how we treat our bodies. When it was my turn to speak I had no shortage of words; forever I've been abusing my body, following the tradition of what my perpetrators did to me.

I continue to cut, burn, starve, binge, purge, etc.

Indulge me here for a minute. I'm getting to a point:

I don't feel like I deserve to be happy. I don't deserve to take care of myself. There is something inherently wrong with myself that makes me undeserving. I often ask myself why I go to therapy. I don't deserve therapy; I don't deserve to get better.

But why don't I deserve to get better? What did I do that was so bad? Even people on death row get treated better than I treat myself. So what is wrong with me?

The answer is nothing...except somewhere inside I feel guilty and like I deserved to be traumatized and abused. Some sick part of me feels like I wanted the abuse. My T. would say that is categorically, unconditionally, irrefutably, untrue. I don't believe her myself, but I still try to trust in what she says.

The truth is:

I am capable of having of self-worth. My self-worth is based on my actions, and I am already doing things I can be proud of. I'm going to therapy, even though I hate it. I feel similiarly to Ivory that I go to therapy but never say the things I need to say. But I'm trying. I go to my eating disorder groups, I journal, I blog, and I read other people's blogs as a way of reaffirming that my frame of reference is not singular.

Esteem is based on our own opinion, our own judgement, and what we value. Thus, self-esteem is how we value ourselves and what our opinion is of ourselves. We can't rely on other's opinions of us. They won't hold water in the long run because we will constantly be having to go back to them for reassurance. We need self-esteem for ourselves.

And self-esteem and self-worth can't be based on the outer appearance. Self-worth is the product of action. Self-esteem isn't a feeling based on passing emotions. It is constructed, built, even designed. We can design negative self-worth or design positive self-worth. We don't have to go by the definitions handed to us in childhood or from a relationship that wasn't healthy. We can redefine ourselves anytime we want by doing things for ourselves regardless if we feel worthy or deserving.

So while I may not feel like I deserve to live or deserve to be happy, my goal is to do something nice for myself today, like paint my nails or buy a new song for my iPod. It is the little things we do for ourselves, even the smallest action, that translates into a victory; It is the small victories that turn into positive products, and that builds and DESIGNS how we will view ourselves and what our self worth is.

I'm including some web-sites I visited that gave me ideas on how to improve my self-worth. (This has 10 steps and even more tips)**** (Has 3 tips but a lot of links to other sites) (has great analogy of "bank account" and self-esteem

Hope these help.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Time after time

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was 18 years old, institutionalized on the mental health floor, and trying to justify my suicide attempt in group therapy. Another woman, about twenty years older than me, scolded me out because I wanted to kill myself and told me how lucky I should feel because I was getting psychiatric help at such a young age and that she had to live with her illness longer than I had been alive.

Well, here I am, woman almost fifteen year later, and still getting psychiatric help. I'm still in therapy and have been in the looney bin several times since I was 18. So what does that make me? A failure? Worthless? Wasteful? Shouldn't early intervention mean that my life would be a panacea and I would have no problems?

If that's the case then I have failed miserably. I've been in therapy for a long time and I've been to alot of groups with varying ages. I never tell someone younger than me that they are lucky to get help early in life. I never feel jealous because they are getting help as a teenager.

Just because you receive help doesn't mean you are helped, and that is the difference. And the help you get may not be what you really need, but it may just keep you alive for the moment.

I remember all my therapists. Some of them were great, some not so great. I've still got some of the same problems I had when I first started therapy fifteen years ago. I still dissociate; I still am depressed; I still have an eating disorder; I still self harm. If I wanted to I could throw a pity party and mope and mourn all the years wasted and sacrificed to ineffectual therapy. But even though I still have a long way to go to achieve mental health, I know that I've made progress.

Every stage of my life has given me opportunities to grow. I've done the best I can do at any given moment. The wear and tear I've experienced in my life has afforded me the opportunity to gain wisdom, so the therapy wasn't a waste. And I'm not a waste because I'm not the poster child for mental health.

So to the woman that told me 15 years ago how lucky I was to get help early, I say fuck off. By saying that you invalidate me and how I've been scraping and clawing and scratching my way up the mountain for help. I'm not going to let myself feel like a waste and a disaster just because I'm not "fixed."

To the rest of the world that might look at me and say "what the fuck is wrong with you that fifteen years of therapy won't fix?, I try to tell myself, "Big deal." So what that I've been in therapy for 15 years. That shows a sign of hope. At least I haven't given up. At least I still try.

I know that one day my smile will be genuine and my laughter authentic. Then will I celebrate all the years, whether it's 15 or 25, that I struggled and battled to be happy and free.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The dirty word called "trust"

It's taken a few days to write this post. I've been molling it over in my head. A week ago I attend a support group that I usually go to, Emotions Anonymous. The format consists of go around the room, saying our name, and giving a feeling word. Then a topic is introduced and we go around and make a statement about the topic, or we pass if we don't feel like talking.

Well, last Monday the topic was trust. Dirty word. Most people with truama histories have problems trusting. I find it hard to trust everyone and everything. It's hard to trust my T., D., my husband, and to trust even myself. I can be one of the worst perpetrators of abuse against myself with all the cutting, burning, starving, purging, etc..

I thought it was interesting to hear everyone's comments in the meeting. By far, the men asserted they were too trusting and the women complained they weren't trusting enough. It didn't surprise me. Women trust too much and get burned in the end when their hopes for friendship or courtship are dashed.

Well, yesterday's reading in my affirmation book put the punctuation mark on the topic. The topic started off with a quote from "The Desiderata" and it reads, "The world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is."

I have to make myself trust that there are good people out there, people that want to take the time to get to know me and be patient while we sift through the garbage and I can be a good friend. I have a lot to offer and I want to offer it. But right now, I can't afford trust. It won't always be that way because I see what I'm missing out on. It took the EA meeting and yesterday's affirmation to realize it.

If I look at everyone as someone out to get me, then truly everyone will be out to get me. My reality depends on what I choose to focus. To overly concentrate on the world's deceit has us constantly imputing false, shoddy motives to everyone we see or any activity we take notice of. If we regard the world this way, every gift becomes suspect, every kind deed a means for exploitation, and all innocence equals guilt or suspicion.

I've lived my whole life this way and all it's gotten me is alone. I don't want to be this way anymore. I have a lot that I could offer people.

I'm giving, concerened, empathetic, and agreeable. I would make a good friend.

The last quote of yesterday's reading reads, "The world is only as dark as the glasses I wear." I can choose to see only darkness and deceit in the world, or I can choose to see the potential that a trusting life can bring. Happiness determines my altitude, not just my attitude.

Now I just need hope. That will be a whole new post.