I haven’t ever really had issues with self esteem, low or otherwise, before. I’m not exactly modest and I value the traits of mine that are good, i.e. intelligence and reaching out to people. Having a chronic illness has made me realize, though, that self esteem and self worth are two very different things. I knew this before but not as vividly as I do now.
I recently posted on Facebook that I have been having issues with how worthy I feel. And worthy of what, exactly, is kind of irrelevant. It’s more of an in general feeling. Am I worthy of help? Am I worthy of being given a break? Am I worthy of having good relationships? Or am I worthless because I can’t just go get any job? Am I worthless because I can’t keep up with everyone?
My exact post was: “So tired of feeling worthless and that I’m nothing since I don’t have a job. So tired of being screwed over by my own body. And trapped in it. And I’m so tired of feeling tired and of not being in excruciating pain but being in enough pain that it interferes with daily life.”
And then in the comments I posted a couple afterthoughts: “I wasn’t going to post this but then I realized so many of my chronic illness friends can probably relate and sometimes it just helps to put shit out into the world. And the kicker? I feel like since I can’t do anything that gains money right now I might as well not do anything at all. And then I fuck myself over because what if writing my novels DOES end up making me money? But then again, what if I just feel even more frustrated because the classic writer’s frustration….our family and friends don’t see any point in the creating process because you don’t get any immediate gratification. Add in my already shitty feelings of worthlessness and well, fuck it up the shit creek with the rest of this douchenuggetry.”
I have amazing friends and family. And my dad pointed out my job is raising my son. I don’t think anything is more important than my son. The thing is, though, I sometimes feel even worse because I am a mom and I haven’t been able to provide by myself. It’s always been someone else; all my problems started when I got pregnant, or just shortly before, and I haven’t been able to bounce back long enough to move forward without getting shoved back down by a diagnosis or symptoms. I do believe that my success, if you will, is directly related to how healthy and happy (within my control) my son is. I say within my control because, well, let’s be real…if my health and happiness were in my control I wouldn’t be writing this and no matter how much I pray and broker for the health of anyone else, sometimes the Universe can’t provide. But even if I successfully raise my son, I need my own identity. And that’s another part of life that gets screwed with so much when you have a chronic illness.
I know I am powerful and intelligent and fierce and a fighter. Somedays, though, it is very easy to forget that. Especially when you need something or someone to help and asking makes you feel like you’re doing this semi-cowardly semi-groveling beg for it. I might not care about my pride, but my dignity is another matter entirely.
So where do I go from here? I’m not sure. The obvious thing is that I need to take steps to improve my own opinion of how worthy I am, especially in regards to my illness. I’m not exactly sure what that looks like yet but I think it will involve making small changes to things around the house and in my lifestyle (better nutrition, better exercise, smarter choices in general, DIY projects). A feeling of accomplishment is what I’m seeking. Growth. Progression. Forward. Like an arrow, pew pew pew.
An update on what I’m reading:
“Heir of Fire” by Sarah J Maas – third in her Throne of Glass trilogy
“Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown
“Bread & Wine” by Shauna Niequist
“Come Winter” by Claire Gutierrez
and I just picked up “Herland” from the library, a classic utopian from 1915 by Charlotte Perkins Gilman