In life there is a battle I think most of us have; finding our self worth.? I know feeling worthy has been a battle for most of my life, but as of late I feel like I am finding it. Finally.
My battle with self worth started when I was young. I was in a fatal car accident that took my mother and left me terribly injured. The accident was in the summer so when I returned to school in the fall my injuries were healing but I still had to use crutches and my cheek was still swollen from a broken jaw. I had also lost an extreme amount of weight due to my injuries. I looked different than others.
Up until then I had felt confident in who I was inside and out, but the accident and going back to school changed that. Kids teased me mercilessly about my looks and I started to see myself as ugly.
Another prominent moment where I questioned my self worth was when I learned to walk my own again. One of my physical therapy exercises was to walk between two vertical bars back and forth gaining strength. My dad was a priest and the house we lived in and the church were attached to eachother so I would practise my exercises in the church. My father turned two pews back to back and I tirelessly tackled the exercise every day. One day I told myself to take a step without the help of the pews so I did. I nervously stepped forward and I did not fall!! I was so excited and so proud of myself. I walked into the house (very hobbly but still walking) and announced to my dad that I walked on my own!! I expected him to come over and give me a huge hug, but instead he barely looked up from his paper and said “Oh yah.”. I was crushed. Was I not worth praise? Then the phone rang, he got up to answer it and proudly told the caller about my accomplishment. I remember standing there confused. It was then that I learned to be worth something to my father it had to be something that made him look good. It wasn’t about me being worthy, it was about my actions reflecting upon his worth.
Later my father remarried. He married a woman that I tried to like, but she emotionally abused me and my father stood by saying nothing. Again I asked myself, am I not worth it?
As a teen I struggled with various teen issues; puberty, friendships, learning who I was and sadly rape. I was raped by a boy whom I knew while his friends held me down. As they left the boy looked at me and said “Lets see who will touch you now.”
I dated a boy shortly after this and as we got closer I felt unworthy, tainted by what those boys had done and I heard their words in my head so I pushed my boyfriend away.
I took this lack of self worth into my marriage. I put up with far more than I should because I simply did not feel worthy of more.
While I was pregnant with my third child and following his birth my husband was having an affair. The woman belonged to the Fire Department he volunteered in. Her husband had recently left her with two small children. We would see her at BBQ’s with other Fire Department friends. When either would arrive at the event the others face would light up, when I was at work, and he was at home with our girls, he would spend his days at her house. He would take her out golfing because she was lonely yet he never took me anywhere. When the affair was brought to the light of day and I looked at how differently he treated me and I thought once again, am I not worthy of more?
This lack of self worth along with the frightening dynamics of a Domestic Violent relationship kept me in my marriage for three more years. Near the end my husband started to continually rape me and afterwards would call horrible names such as whore, slut, idiot and bitch. I started to believe that I was those things and this only reaffirmed what the school boy said to me after he had raped me, “Lets see who will touch you now.”
I truely believed I was absolutely unworthy.
Has this ever changed?
I am happy to report that it is changing!
When I left my abusive marriage and built my network of support I had people tell me that I was doing all the right things. I started to feel that perhaps I was smart enough. I also had people who blamed me for my husbands arrest and being charged with assault. I realised that his arrest was not my fault it was his. HIS actions had got him arrested. Again my self worth GREW! I started sharing my story with others and helped other Survivors of Domestic Violence. I was told how much they appreciated my help. My self worth started to EXPLODE!!!
Yet when I was on my own and I looked at myself in the mirror I still heard what the school boy and my husband said. I didn’t see any beauty in the mirror. I saw a tired, worn out woman heading into her 40’s looking like she was 50.
Then something changed. Do you remember the other school boy whom I had dated? The one I pushed away because I didn’t feel worthy? Well he came back into my life and we fell in love again. He told me everyday, sometimes more than once a day, that I was beautiful. At first I brushed off his compliments, but one day something clicked. I looked in that mirror and thought, “maybe I am pretty, maybe I am worthy of his adoring love” and I started to believe that I am.
I see the beauty inside and out of me now. I see my strengths and know that I am worthy of happiness. I do not deserve to be someone’s second choice. I do not deserve abuse. I am strong, smart and sometimes even a little witty. I am worthy of love. I am worthy of good things. I am worthy to have a great life.
Mentor Survivors of abuse at Verbal Abuse Journals: verbalabusejournals.com facebook https://www.facebook.com/VerbalAbuseJournals
facebook page: Freedom Within: My Journey through Domestic Violence and PTSD https://www.facebook.com/VerbalAbuseJournals
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Linkedin: Janet Brownlee http://ca.linkedin.com/in/janetbrownleedvptsd“>