Months ago, shortly after having the “I can’t be your girlfriend” conversation with my evening intruder, he said something quite to the point. He’s always been the blunt type but this caught me off guard.
“Kendra, I think that the only reason you’re not in a real relationship now is because you don’t think you’re worth it.”
Momentarily shocked, I mostly blew it off, telling him that I wasn’t in a relationship because I didn’t want one. I wanted time and space to figure myself out and what I had to offer to the world and to a romantic partner. I didn’t want that clouded by emotion or by someone else’s influence. I also liked the freedom to flirt with whomever I pleased and didn’t want to be limited.
I may have also suspected that he was trying to talk me into a relationship with him again and I wasn’t about to repeat that conversation. I was still hurting from the end of my “complication” and this was not something I wanted to talk about.
The comment stuck with me, though, and I wondered how true it was.
A while later I was talking with another friend, who reminds me so much of a stuffed bear I have that I’ve started calling him Bert the Bear (he doesn’t mind being named after a teddy bear), I said something that made me think of that comment again and reconsider it.
He and I had made dinner that evening and then walked to a corner store to get some half and half. While at the store, a man standing next to Bert leaned over, looked at me, and said, “You’ve got great taste, man.” I held my laughter in until we left the store and then we both cracked up.
As we got back to my place he started making jokes about me being a “sex magnet” and about how everyone seems to want me. He’s the type of friend who’s really good for your self esteem. Without thinking, I replied, “Yeah, but no one seems to think I’m worth keeping.”
It just fell out of my mouth. I didn’t think through the statement or say it in a self pitying way. I stated it matter-of-factly and it made him stop and stare at me for a minute. “Is that what you really think?” he asked.
“Oh, I don’t know. Here, have some tea,” I said changing the subject.
After he left I sat on my couch, cradling my tea for a while, thinking about what I had said and I realized that it was exactly how I really felt. My evening intruder had been right.
I hate it when that happens.
I’ve struggled for a long time with self worth. It had never been a shock to me when things fell apart because I felt like I was only losing what I hadn’t deserved in the first place.
Back when I was a Christian in training to become a missionary I had no doubt that I would get married someday but I thought that it would be because someone felt “the call” to marry me and that they would do it out of obedience to God. Back then so much of my life was about duty, though, so I accepted this idea without resentment or emotion.
I couldn’t imagine someone falling in love with me.
I’ve always seen myself as broken and messy inside. Who wants to love something that is broken and messy?
This, unfortunately, isn’t one of those posts where I get to declare at the end that I’ve overcome the struggle. It’s still there. Months ago, the fear of losing the affection I thought I didn’t deserve was nearly crippling to me. At the end, it seemed inevitable and I felt stupid for thinking that I could have kept it in the first place. Now, the idea that love could come again seems impossible.
There is a fragment of light at the end of this tunnel. There is a defiant little voice inside of me that knows I’m worthy of being loved and cherished. That little voice manages to be heard enough, at least, that I’ve started taking care of myself again, I’m pursuing voice training because it’s what I’ve always wanted to do, I’m reassessing relationships and friendships where I don’t feel valued, and I’m reminding myself as often as I can that yes; I am worth it. And, I have some days where I feel completely awesome about myself, fully inhabiting the knowledge that I am someone of great value. Those days are becoming more frequent but they are still far from every day.
I don’t think that I’m the only one out there with this struggle. I suspect that this post will resonate at some level with many of you who are reading this. Unfortunately, this is no “Ten Steps to Feel Great About Yourself.”
Actually that’s not unfortunate because any advice in an article like that would probably be trite and annoying.
I hope that somewhere along the lines, this struggle will no longer be my struggle. I’m so far ahead of where I once was, though, and the sadness and feelings of worthlessness aren’t even close to what I struggled in the past.
Reflecting on my progress gives me hope and I can see that I have the power to change this. I have the power to smile because I deserve to. So, I continue to remind myself that I am someone who is worthy of love and that, yes, it will find me.
Hi Kendra – longtime reader/lurker here. Just wanted to let you know that you are certainly not the only one who feels this way – and that even when you are in a good, healthy relationship, it can be easy to fall back into the trap of thinking that you don’t deserve the love you have. The struggle might always be with you, even when you lose weight, even when you find someone awesome – but I think everyone struggles (at points) to see themselves as worthy of love. Personally, I think the key is to not let the struggle define you, and not let it prevent you from having a relationship, or cause you to sabotage a relationship. Hope that makes sense!