As I turned over the Thought for the Day calendar page this morning it read “I am neither too little or too much. I do not have to prove myself to anyone.” Wow, I thought, isn’t that the damn truth! No I really didn’t think that. What I really thought was, No I really don’t have to prove myself to anyone. Not anymore. I am just me and that is all I want to be. Sure I have aspirations and I will achieve them, not all of them because I can’t physically do all of them anymore, however, I can achieve most! My bucket list? I don’t know that I have one; maybe that is something I should create too.
It struck me though how much time I have spent trying to prove myself to someone else. Whether it be my parents, a sibling, a lover, a colleague, or a friend; I have spent an enormous amount of my life proving my worth to someone! I don’t really think I am alone in this. We all do it everyday. We have to; it is the way our society works. It is not always a negative. We have to be able to show that we have the ability to perform our jobs well. We have to show that we are capable of handling finances in order to get a house mortgage. We always have to demonstrate that we can handle responsibility in any situation before we are given more. That’s just the way it works, and that’s not a bad thing.
What I am really talking about is proving our self-worth. No one should have to prove self-worth. Everyone is worthy! Just by nature of being born. It doesn’t matter on what side of the tracks you were born or raised. It doesn’t matter what career you chose. It doesn’t matter if your liberal or conservative; christian or pagan; black, white or purple; straight or gay. What does matter, at least to me, is that you do the best YOU can. Not the best I can, or the best John Doe can, just the best YOU can. And since no one can tell what that is, there is no one who can really judge you! So proving someone else’s self-worth, really is not a possibility!
I have really struggled with my self-worth in the past two and a half years. That is when I lost my job, my career, because of my health issues. I was told by three doctors I could not work anymore. I had based a lot of who I was on what I did. I was raised with a strong work ethic. Without a job, a career, I was totally lost. I felt like I was falling into a deep, dark, black pit. I had to move from the four acre place I was living, which is where I grew up; and into a small house with a postcard sized yard. I’ve sold about all I can that has value to pay the bills. And I kept sinking deeper and deeper. I stopped laughing; people no longer interested me; I could not reach out; the mask would not work anymore; and, my eyes could not hide the pain. Some people gave up trying to help and went away, they just didn’t know what to do or didn’t have the energy to keep trying. I get that and I get them. And then there are the ones who stayed. The ones who supported me: gave me the emotional lifelines to keep me going; the financial help to pay the bills; helped me figure out how to survive; spent time with me when I was not very fun to be around. And my “kids.” Three furry kids: Rudy, whose 12 and has diabetes; Willie, whose 5 and is the Princess of the house; and Alli, whose 8, and, god love her, drives me insane! Without the three of them, I’m not sure I would have made it through all of this. I know there are a lot of people who have thought, and some have said, that I could not “afford” to keep them, and financially they are correct. They just didn’t get that I could not “afford” to give them up and still stay alive. Of course, I filed for Social Security Disability in August of 2011, when it became clear that I could not return to work. (Even though I still planned to try to.) I was denied twice and then had to wait for a hearing. Anyone familiar with this process knows that it takes a very long time! Well, my time finally came last week, I had my hearing, and I believe it went well. Now I wait, yes more waiting, for the official outcome and hopefully some income.
Since the hearing, and the positive feeling that my lawyer and I have about it, it feels that I am rapidly climbing out of the deep, dark, black pit. It is still there and I am not totally free of it, however I can see light again. And I wonder, how did a man (the judge) affect my self-worth in 10 minutes? How did he, whom I had never met before, allow me to come up out of the pit, when all the people who really care about me, were unable to do that? Was it validation by an outside source? Was it that he held my future in his hands? Or did it have nothing to do with him personally. Was it that the “system” had finally come through for me? I am not sure. I haven’t figured all that out, and I am not sure that it even matters. (Except that I am an analyzer, so I will chew on it.) It just is what it is. And my self-worth has increased. I do feel validated. I still wish I could work. I still wish I was able to work. But I have accepted that I can’t. I think I am done with that battle. At least for today.
So my self-worth? It gets defined by me. It’s not about what I can do or what I can’t do. It’s about who I am. It’s about what I believe. It’s about what I value. It’s about how I spend my time, because that reflects what I believe and what I value. It’s about how I treat other people, because that reflects how I believe I deserve to be treated. And it is ultimately about love…because who and what I love, and the way I love, is reflection of my soul.
How do you define your self-worth?