Wednesday, March 21, 2012

a girl of surpassing beauty {my life-long struggle with self-esteem}: part 1

Can I share a secret with you?

I don't think I'm pretty.

Honestly.  I don't.

Now, it's not that I see myself as "ugly"...but I definitely don't see myself fitting into the "attractive" category.  This is something I have felt for nearly all of my life.

Why is that?  Why is my self-esteem so tarnished and warped?  Why is it self-degrading?  Why do I internally shy away when I see another girl of surpassing beauty?  A feeling that makes me want to find the nearest dark corner and hide?  A desire to:  wish I didn't exist.

I wondered the same thing the other day.  So I began to stroll down the lanes of my memory.  Checking inside each door to find what was inside.  What had I missed?  What details, that were apparently important enough, to shape my entire identity?  Extrinsic and foreign details that have become so ingrained into my emotional skin, that they have become intrinsically grafted onto my heart, into my self-talk, and ultimately, to affect my self-image.

After a few days of quiet pondering, I found it.

And surprisingly to me, it's a story that I've told countless times before.  It's not a story forgotten.  Or hidden.  Or even obscure.  It's a portion of my life that is extremely vivid in my mind.

But I'm just realizing that it was filled with details, so subtle, my mental radar ignored them.

Subtle, but oh-so-important.  Oh-so-large.  Oh-so-damaging.

Here's some back story:
I was born an only child.  My mother and father were divorced when I was only five years old.  It changed me, sure.  Made me who I am today.  And it was hard.  But, looking back, I had an AMAZING childhood.  I loved it.  And despite the emotional hurricane that lived deep inside my self-esteem remained intact.  In fact, it flourished. I was lucky to have two amazing parents.  They couldn't be married.  BUT they loved me.  And they made sure I knew it.  They never fought in my presence.  They never talked bad to me about the other.  They got along for my sake.  And that bred a sense of security I needed.... albeit, imperfect was more than I could have ever hoped for, given the situation.

Needless to say, my self-image rocked.  It was solid.  I loved me.  I loved life.  I loved my sneakers and my wild&wispy hair (that won't hold a curl to save its life) that could barely be tamed by my daily-wearing of a pony-tail braid.  I loved the two freckles on the side of my neck that sit so close to each other, I would joke how I was once bitten by a vampire.  I also loved how the freckles on my nose only show up when kissed by the summer sun.  I loved dancing around the neighborhood in the summer rains in my bathing suit.  I loved the scars on my knees I got from continual wipe-outs on my bike.  I loved how each of my pinky-toes resemble an elbow macaroni.  I loved the color of my eyes and how they turn into half-moons when I smile. I loved my laugh.  And to wear pop-bead jewelry.  I loved my teddy-bear and blankie (my must-have-accessories for bed-time).  I loved playing tag and hop-scotch and hand games.  I loved jump-roping with my friends.  But most of all, I loved the pink sweater with heart-shaped buttons my Mama had knitted me.

That sweater was awesome.  It was warm.  Cozy.  And PINK.  It was the type of sweater you wore on sick days because it makes you feel better.  It was the type of sweater you wore on sad days because you felt it hug you.  It was the type of sweater you wore on happy days because you looked so. darn. awesome. in it.  It was that type of sweater.

At age 11, my Mama was re-married to another great man (the first, being my Daddy, of course).  And my life was uprooted.  New town.  New home.  New family (I instantly went from only-child, to the youngest of four).  And....a new school.

And here's the story that changed my life, ladies and gents....
I walked into my first day of 6th grade.
I was wearing that sweater.
And they made fun of me for it.

*proceed to swallow hard tears, here*


I'm pretty sure, after that day, I questioned EVERYTHING about myself.  And started to see that not everyone loved me.  Not everyone thought I was as wonderful as I saw myself.  This lead to me thinking, well, if a majority of people believe that about me, it MUST be true, right?

That was my down-fall, people.  The dreaded peer-pressure-pre-hormonal-mean-girl-pitfall into self-image destruction.  To. this. day. I pick myself apart.  Trying to "live up" to the invisible and non-existent standards of American society.  Trying desperately to fit-in and be accepted.

here's what else I've been pondering (besides the origin of my tainted self-image):
How do I fix it??
How in the world do I get back to that place in my life; the time period before I walked into my that 6th grade class?
How do I love myself again?

I found this book at a discount store last summer for $2.99:

The target audience is junior high and high school girls.  But the truths found within are timeless.

I also own (and read a LONG time ago) this book:

In a few following and subsequent posts {I guess you could call it a "blog-series"...but that sounds intimidating to me! ha!} I have decided to share with you the meditations of my heart that have flowed from the combination of these books.  God is showing me great and amazing truths about Himself.  Things such as (but not limited to):
  • "...our hearts on the inside determines how we look on the outside."
  • when we understand what God sees as beautiful, it affects our thought-life, which then affects how we view our world, including our own worth/self-image
  • we should not live according the standards of our society, but to the standards of God's Word
  • playing the "compare-game" is extremely dangerous and damaging
  • God loved me enough to send His Son to die for my sins...I have redemption through His blood...I potentially can commit blasphemy by not loving myself just as much!  {what am I saying to others about the God I serve, when I hate what He's created and died for?!}
I really hope you come back for visit here in the next few days.  I've learned much {and I'm still learning}.  Maybe you can relate?  Or maybe you have some advice?  Words of wisdom?  Maybe this wound is still all too raw?  Whatever the case, I welcome you!  

I'll leave you with this:
If you are a daughter of the King, you are a girl of surpassing matter what the story books say!

79° Partly Sunny Partly Cloudy.  But GORGEOUS out, nonetheless!

1 comment:

  1. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Praise be to Him.


Love is to the heart what the summer is to the farmer's year - it brings to harvest all the loveliest flowers of the soul. -Unknown