I have a sickness. It’s called low self-esteem and minimal self-respect. It’s a downhill battle that I am trying to win. I often forget to fight and drown in self-pity, making it difficult to get through the day without some kind of meltdown or fit of rage. I am trying to change the way I react to things people say or do to me, but it’s not easy.
As a kid, I was labeled as “slow” and “gullible,” the perfect target for April Fools jokes and pranks of any kind. I never deciphered sarcasm and always believed everything I was told.
In middle school, it was pretty standard – you know little jokes and pranks that would get people laughing at me in unison, usually with me not noticing until the prank was so bad that they felt sorry for me. I survived on stupid adult comments: “They do it because they are envious of what a good person you are,” and shit like that. What crap. That didn´t make me less gullible or more in tune with sarcasm; it just drowned the bad feelings for a while.
In high school, I had my dose of deception and manipulation, straight from the lips of sex-hungry boys, enough to be convinced of false truths that took me to complicated moments of self-abandonment in search of acceptance and teenage love. You could say I fit the Freudian classic of “girls with daddy issues,” looking for a man to protect me from myself. I let myself be taken advantage of, more than once. It never improved my self-confidence or made me happy, only opened the well of despair deeper and deeper.
Fast forward to the mommy era, and silly things like a carnival and buckets of water thrown over my head, making me feel like the smallest of all bugs, always becoming frustrated while everyone else had fun. These acts were never at my expense, but I still felt personally attacked and made fun of. As an adult, I am still bad at jokes and sarcasm. Everything feels like a personal attack, even if it´s not.
Moving on to my years as a working mom. I was told that producers hired me not only for my makeup artist talents, but because I was easygoing and never created drama on set or on production. Basically I was a pushover, getting underpaid and stepped on, never defending myself and always feeling used and abused for not stepping up and demanding proper professional treatment. I never managed to grow in my career and ran away from it.
Three years away from all that, and I find myself turning in circles in my wallowing and whining, uncovering my weaknesses for all to see. Having three kids was a catalyst. They took off my masks, pushed all the right buttons, making me act like what I feel I am, always doubting my self-worth and staring sadly into the distance instead of doing what has to be done to grow as a person.
Awareness is a wonderful thing, but taking action is the most difficult of all endeavors. Taking those steps up towards a feeling of self-love are the hardest to take when the load is heavy. Trying to tell myself that I am worthy feels like lying, all the while fishing for compliments that I will usually answer with a negative statement anyway.
Old behaviors and feelings are hard to change; forgiving all those who made fun of me and took advantage of my weaknesses will hopefully take me towards something better. Those have been lessons learned and it´s time to close this book of self-pity. It is time to write a new book, one about making myself feel better without asking someone else for the formula.
I am scared, more than ever in my entire life.