Rebuilding Your Self Esteem Again and Again

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I’m sure everyone reading this has had a moment when your self esteem was completely and utterly destroyed by a single comment. It could have been by a stranger, a friend, a family member, or a significant other. Words can lift up, but they can also destroy.

My particular memory was created by the comment of an ex boyfriend. He had a way of hurting me in a deep, painful way that made me feel worthless with just a few mere words. My ex was a server, he was 39 and had a deeply troubled past. I had my own struggles, so that meant to me that we were a match made in heaven, right? Wrong. Just because two people have a troubled past doesn’t mean they are good for each other. Nevertheless, as I often do, I wrote in my diary daily and one particular entry was about my hesitation about him. Big surprise, he read my diary without my permission. I have been hurt before physically and mentally, but I’ll never forget how his intrusion left me feeling naked. I felt that my mind was raped, molested and taken away. I have always used writing as a way of escape and figuring life out, and that innermost privacy was taken away. To this day, I’m sure he still thinks he didn’t do anything wrong.

What he said after reading my diary still haunts me. He said, “What makes you think that you can do better than me? You’re not special. You’re nobody. You’re broke. No one would want you besides me, you’re broken.” Even writing that sentence makes me want to cry. Not only was my mind molested by him breaking into my privacy, he seemingly confirmed my biggest fear: that I was worthless.

After almost two years since that moment, I still look at myself in the mirror and fight to see my worth. I haven’t been in a relationship since, I’ve actually had dozens of encounters with men that only solidify what my ex said. I wish I could say that I don’t feel worthless anymore, that I overcame his verbal abuse, but the thing is I can’t. I truly believe sometimes that I am undesirable, unwanted and not special. In my lowest moments, his words ring true because no one else has wanted me since him. So the man “I loved” had to be right, I wasn’t special.

I struggle to even write the antidote to this post as I’m still figuring it out and that’s okay. Self esteem is a work in progress, especially when you have to build your self worth back up again and again.

On this crazy journey of finding my self worth and not in how men view me, I have discovered it starts with positive self talk. There were so many times that I looked at myself in the mirror in the morning and said “You’re not special. He was right.” But I have now since changed the verbage to, “I am special. I’m enough. I am intelligent, driven, kind, ambitious. He was wrong.” At first it felt forced, and I won’t lie, sometimes it still does, but I encourage you to replace that negative memory with powerful words that lift you up.

I wish I had a secret method to share with you to fix your self esteem in “5 simple steps,” but there’s nothing simple about surviving verbal lashings by those you love. I hope at least I can let you know you’re not alone and we can go on this journey together to turn our chains into ladders to a greater version of ourselves.