The theme of “Self Worth” has been confronting me on multiple levels over the past 2 weeks. It keeps coming up in conversations with others over and over again, so I thought I would take a moment to really sit and honor that subject.
My journey into this topic began December 27 when Alex’s Ex called me to confront me about many things regarding my friendship with her, my relationship with Alex and my relationship with their girls. In a nutshell, I am too giving and that is threatening to her as a mother. She gains self worth through external validation from others as a good parent, friend, Ex-wife, good doctor, etc. Me doing things differently from her, bonding with her children and creating a loving relationship with Alex, rocked her internal “worthiness” meter. By asking simple questions to her, such as “How is being kind and loving to your children and Alex hurting you?”, allowed her the space to step back and rethink things. She was able to remove her ego from the situation from maybe a milli-second and realize that it IS beneficial for the girls to have another “mother” figure around to comfort the girls when they need it.
Most of us need and yearn for some sort of external “pat on the back” that we are ok and we matter. When we tip the balance and need more from others than what we develop within ourselves, this need turns to dysfunction. After a divorce or the end of a relationship, many of us struggle with our identity again. Who are we now that we are one instead of two? It takes time to re-discover what makes us uniquely US, our own “Unique Self”. For me, reading, listening to old cd’s (from 12 years ago!), and being quiet helped me find ME again. I liked me! I was surprised at what I had forgotten when “We” were a WE and I was not a ME! Slowly, over the months following my divorce, I regained my footing in a more healthier way. I could be alone in the quiet moments with myself and be ok. I had accepted that I may be alone and not find someone who would value the ME-ness of me, and that was ok. I didn’t want to lose myself again in someones external view or value of me and my self worth. I would rather be alone than to be pushed aside again.
Now, all of this new personal “enlightenment” does not mean that I do not also fall victim for the need of external validation or value. Again, this theme came back around as I felt I needed to stand up for my newly discovered value and express that to Alex this week. I felt that the value of Our time together and me as a person was externally valued or acknowledged as important with regards to his ex and his children. I felt that if he did not demonstrate, to them, that I was an important, valuable person in his life, how would they, also, see me in that way. I felt invisible, I found my voice (maybe too much so :/), and spoke my truth. I am A valuable Person, dammit! Please don’t hide me away and make me feel insignificant! Is this a need for external validation by/from others? Yes and no. Yes, because I feel that me, as a person, deserve respect for the person I am. Am I looking for approval? No. I do not need their approval of me to know that I am good person. I do not need their opinion to know that I am important to Alex in his life.
“Stop looking outside for scraps of pleasure or fulfillment, for validation, security, or love – you have a treasure within that is infinitely greater than anything the world can offer.”
This quote rang so crystal clear last night and this morning as I was helping a friend release from a dysfunctional attachment to a man that could actually prove to be dangerous around her child. He has repetitively demonstrated lack of empathy, internal struggles in addition to struggling with Alcoholism. Drinking vodka and orange juice each morning before work, with the child around is a red flag for me as a mother. There are so many things that race thru my mind that could happen. My friend’s need to have someone in her life and being “ok” with the alcoholism (he was more attentive after a drink) was a disregard for her child’s safety. I asked her the simple question : “How will you help your child gain her own sense of self worth and not need someone else’s validation?” Children learn what they see and what they experience. As a mother and role model, what can you do as an example to help foster your child’s self esteem? There was a hesitancy and an answer of “If I am in a healthy relationship?” To that, I counter: “Is it necessary to be in a relationship with someone to teach her that?” Of course, at that moment, she has reached the mountains and her phone loses a signal. That conversation will be continued at another time…
When people ask me “how did you get the essence of You back after the divorce?” The simple answer: I got quiet and listened to what I needed. Keep in mind…that’s a simple answer, but simple doesn’t mean it will be easy. However, it will be worth it.