Through this dating and, now, being engaged to Ray, I have learned SO many things about myself. What is the most interesting to me though, is that I can see a connection between all of them. And often, that connection is disheartening. For those who don't know, I have extremely, extremely low self-esteem. An issue that has been especially prevalent throughout my relationship with Ray. Between not thinking I deserve him, to hating the way my body looks, and the complete and utter fear I have of failing, the list of disappointment I often see in myself seems as if it could go on forever.
I believe that this realization of just how much stress I put upon myself for a lack of belief in myself and who I am has really shaken my core. Which is why I have spent much of my thought time lately figuring out exactly what the cause(s) of this is(are).
Does it come from being relentlessly picked on in school?
Or having a father who was never really present?
Is it a result of my mom's fears transferred down a generation?
Or is it something far beyond this?
What I realized through a conversation Ray and I had with some married friends of ours is my role in the family. For Ray, he is the one to succeed. He's the one to graduate college, be successful, and provide for his family back home. He's the achiever. For me? I was stumped. I searched and scrambled for words describing how I felt in position with the rest of my family. The husband of the couple looked at me and said, "You're the one they expect to fail aren't you?" Suddenly it was as if this light flashed as it made connections all around my brain.
Yes. That was exactly what I felt my role was.
I have spent my life being a people pleaser. I may have been a terrible, exhaustive child/preteen/teen to put up with, but I have greatly and intensely matured in college. And everything I do, I often don't do for myself. I do it for others. My grades, my financial decisions, my obsession over having the pillows on the couch straight. Everything. I hardly let what I truly and desperately want to happen come to the surface, primarily out of the fear of failure. But what I have realized alongside this idea, is that it isn't necessarily failure in my eyes that causes me grief, but it is confirming that I have indeed failed in the eyes of others.
It's as though despite all of my efforts, despite paying for college and cost of living by myself, maintaining a job all throughout college, participating in extra curriculars, earning a 3.862 GPA so far (which will be a 3.9 by the date of my graduation), being involved in a church, working at a church camp and at 710 seven days a week in the summer, growing closer to my mom, not drinking until I was 21, losing almost 90 pounds, and finding someone incredible with whom I am going to spend my life, despite all of that, I never feel as if it's enough.
Instead, I am left feeling as though all anyone ever sees are my failures, my shortcomings, my mistakes. I feel as though they are so quick to throw it in my face. And then, to top it off, they throw the "You always think you're the center of attention" card in the mix.
But I don't try to be. Does it happen? Yes. Because I just want to feel like I've accomplished something my family can be proud of. Because earning two years worth of free rides in college isn't enough. Because staying an extra year with 5, count them FIVE added certificates to my teaching degree, isn't enough. And because wanting someone to just for once say, "Hey. You've done great." is asking incredibly too much... I am not saying that as an I want that as a response to me drawing it out of them through listing all of the good things I've done, but because they are just naturally proud of me. After all, the only reason I spout off that list that I have worked so hard to create is for them to just be proud of me. That's it. To just believe in me. Treat me as if I'm not a failure.
But instead, I get told to "Fuck off" and have the door slammed in my face. (Literally.)
It's no wonder I am such a wreck. It's no wonder I have these habits and days of just crying uncontrollably because I just can't relax. I just can't calm down. I just can't enjoy life. .Because if I am doing those things, I am not doing everything in my absolute power to make sure my list of accomplishments stays solid. Because if I am just holding my head high and resting in the peace that comes from knowing that I'm not so bad after all, then I am an instant from falling flat on my face in failure.
I say all of that, but I just want to take a moment though to say this isn't just my family. And, in fact, there are soooo many people in my family who are incredible. That is why this entire process of coming to these realizations has been so difficult on me. Because it has brought out just how truly and deeply I love my family, and how vastly much I long for their approval, because they mean the absolute world and beyond to me. Because I just love them, and want them to be proud of me.
But this whole lack of belief in myself also comes from the kids in middle school, too. The ones who called me "Moo Moo" and who stole my winter hat and spit in it before they threw it in the trash can. The principal and teachers who made me feel as though it was my fault for just not getting over it.
From the high school teachers who never really expected much out of me anyway.
From the church family members who only saw my mistakes, who labeled me, who pushed me aside, and eventually out of their doors.
From the media.
From my own lies I have concocted over the years.
This overwhelming pressure comes from so many places, that it hasn't been until recently that I have just been feeling like enough is enough. And whether that it was from my college professor who pulled me aside to tell me I was one of 4 students in the class he saw having the potential to do more, and who said "Don't stop," and who didn't look at me with only a Bachelor's, but told me he saw me with a Master's and a PhD.
Or whether it's been through the insane amount of closeness that has been developing between my mom and I as I savor these last precious months before I get married and move out of the nest for good.
Or if it's been through the love of the most loving, wonderful, supporting, caring, understanding, and patient fiancé I could have ever dreamed of having.
Or the actual answer, that God has orchestrated all of these events, including a loving and nurturing local church family, to come together at the same time, and to finally begin healing these wounds that are so deeply imbedded within me.
Praise be to Jesus for long awaited healing.
...I know this blog is lengthy. And, I actually picked up my computer to type up a blog about the wedding plans. But apparently, I just needed to get all of this off my chest instead.
So, just incase you are still reading, thank you. Because more than likely, you are someone who has loved me, encouraged me, believed in me, supported me, and has blessed me more than I will ever be able to describe to you in words. Through text messages, phone calls, emails, visits, and so much more, there are so many of you who have gotten me through the toughest times in my life, who have been the voice of encouragement in my ear, believing in me when I didn't believe in myself. I praise God that He blessed me with you on Earth to be a living reminder of the way He loves me, cares for me, and provides for me.
So from the bottom of my heart, I thank you. And, I pray that He blesses you in return for the ways you have blessed me.