Autobiography · Mental Health · Personal Development · Relationships

Worth

I’m not sure where it started. A seed planted by someone when I was a kid took root and wrapped itself around everything I learned to believe. This sense of worthlessness. Of being unlovable. Of “if only I were more/less…” thought patterns. If I could just get mentally healthy. If I could just exercise more. If I could just lose weight. If I could just be less jealous, funnier, easier going, better looking, more feminine. The lists went on. Journals full of it, books covering every aspect of how to “improve” myself. My worth tied to a version of myself that never existed. That never would.

This feeling sabotaged relationships from the inside. Sunk its filthy claws into my life and didn’t let go. Colored everything in its image. The impossibility of ever being a capable, lovable, powerful person seemed more fact than opinion. I did not take anything as evidence to the contrary. My entire existence pointed to the truth that I was not worth loving. That I needed to be better before anyone would do that. Before I could do that.

As I packed for my upcoming move I threw away those books. I tossed those journals. I cleared my cabinets of all the little pieces of memorabilia hinting to the fact that I need to be something I am not. All those bullshit motivational magazines. The fabric tape measurers, the food and bathroom scale, the diet plans and lifting regimens. All those letters I wrote to myself about how once I am properly medicated and go through enough therapy someone will want to stay with me. Promises of tomorrows that will find me worthy of existing. Overwhelming and unachievable goals of someday being someone other than who I am. Of someday being the kind of person this or that person would want to love. Would want to keep. I walked them all outside and dropped them in the trash. Take it to the curb on Friday. Never invite them back in.

The shift happened gradually. The acceptance that I am good. Worthy. That I am not broken or in need of fixing. That I don’t need to do anything, change anything in order to be a person other people want. That I want. I am the person I am and I am deserving of every goodness in my life. Nothing and no one can rob me of that.

It does not matter that I’m not a svelte athlete. That I will never grow my hair out. That I wear make up most days because I like the way I look in it. That I’m queer even though I don’t feel like I’m queer “enough”. That I’ve slept with someone who was married when they weren’t married to me. That I used to drink and use drugs and forget about my friends. That I don’t have a petite frame. That I’m the jealous type. That sometimes I like to blow everything off and watch Netflix for hours. That I’ve lied because I thought someone would like me more for it. That I’ve started and stopped running regularly more times in my life than I can recall and will probably do it more. That I used to be able to deadlift 200 pounds, but now haven’t lifted anything in almost a year. That I’m divorced. That I don’t want a “real” job because I love working in customer service. That I dropped out of college. That I talk and laugh way too loud. That I love having my photo taken even though it makes me feel vain. That sometimes I still cry over relationships that didn’t work out. That I said “I love you” obscenely soon to my current partner. That I love to cook, but not for myself. That sometimes I really just want to listen to Top 40 pop songs. That I don’t like to go hiking. That I pour my soul out to strangers on the Internet, but often don’t know how to talk about my feelings to my friends.

All that matters is that I understand that each piece of me is decent and valuable and worthwhile. That I am a good person, an excellent friend, capable and deserving of love regardless of all the reasons I think I am not. And even on the days I have trouble believing it, I have to still know it. To listen only to the part of me that looks at myself like my partner does. Like there is nothing about me that needs changing. That each piece is loved and understood and accepted. A scarred and worn package containing an impenetrable goodness that does not have to be earned or fought for or proven. That exists simply because I do. Because my heart still beats and my breath still pumps in my chest. Just like yours.

Photo courtesy of veeterzy.

22 thoughts on “Worth

  1. The messages on un-worthyness are everywhere – Do This! – Buy That! – Change (whatever)! – Vote For Me! – Believe This! – Eat This! – Don’t Eat That! You were so right to toss them all.

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  2. I so want to stamp and cheer and throw you some kind of party for this. I also really want to know how you did it – whether it was a gradual thing that just happened, or a mindful, intentional change in your way of looking at you, or something which just occurred one morning when you got up and decided to start feeling worthwhile? I’ve started on the right path, I know that, and I know that depression is a separate thing again, but I’m still baffled at the idea of HOW to con my brain into loving me?

    Is it what you do? Who you are? All of the above? How did you convince yourself? What made it work? What made it stick? What makes you able to re-stick it when it comes unstuck?

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    1. I want to be able to answer all these questions for you. But all I can say is I went to a lot of therapy and practiced a lot. The dissolution of my marriage was probably the best thing for my self-esteem. Not that my marriage was damaging in itself, but the dynamic we’d created definitely was. And realizing that I am a capable person without a partner did great things to improve my sense of self-worth.

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  3. Oh Ruby, this is wonderful! I’m so glad you’ve reached this point with yourself. I thought I was there, maybe I was – maybe somewhere inside I am, but I am lost right now, I don’t know. This is SO GOOD, though. We should all feel worthwhile like this and toss out the bullshit with the trash. I’ll find it again, or find it for the first time – whichever it is ❤

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  4. I want to tell you that you are a woman with a lot of courage. It takes courage to go within yourself and see who you truly are. It takes courage to accept it and it takes courage to love it. It takes courage to write about it and post it on the internet where it is available to the entire world to read. You are full of courage. And you inspire me. I don’t know what your story is but I know that it has changed you and changed you for the good.
    Love to you ❤

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  5. Beautifully written, raw and honest and simply wholehearted. I felt chills after reading this, thinking of a friend of mine whom I want to share your piece of writing with.

    Years ago another friend of mine commented on how I often seem to try to feel something other than what I’m feeling. If I was feeling bitchy or sad I tried to change it versus allowing myself to just feel the way I felt, then I would feel bad about feeling bad! It takes great effort to relax into who we are, doesn’t it? Hard to see ourselves for everything we are and still be able to say I love who I am, I am worthy, I am whole.

    Here, for you today: http://www.davidpbrown.co.uk/poetry/oriah-mountain-dreamer.html

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  6. so many paragraphs of this hit home for me. the journals, the feeling of not being queer ‘enough,’ stopping and starting some change! your! life! scheme every other month… letting go of that cycle is both relief and panic, because those cycles were relied upon for so long. thank you for the reminder 🙂

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  7. This post actually brought tears to my eyes, for two reasons: One, because I am SO HAPPY that you are re-discovering your worth and holding onto it tight, and two, because I felt so much of myself in your words and the struggle for self-acceptance that I’ve gone through as well. Things started getting better for me when it hit me one day: self-love isn’t a prize that I’m only allowed to receive once I’m more this or less that, it’s something I can take for myself just because I’ve decided to. And so I took it. Sometimes it slips, and I have to take it again, and sometimes it slips for a long time, and I have to reach extra far to take it, but as long as I KEEP taking it, that’s what matters. I hope you keep taking it too.

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  8. This is so good but so sad and refreshing at the same time. It’s awesome that you got the help you needed and slowly started to accept yourself for who you are now. This brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing.

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