I'm writing to you from a place where I never thought I'd be - happiness! You see, I've always been a worrier - a bit of a scaredy cat, and always had that feeling of impending doom. Didn't think people liked me, didn't think I was good enough, didn't know who I was but hated myself anyway. And I'm talking about feeling like this from the age of 8. Dreadful stuff, eh? My mum is sad when I tell her that, she feels like she should have known. But how could I verbalise what I didn't know was abnormal? I thought that everyone else felt like this. I thought that people stopped feeling like that when they got a boyfriend. So, that was my goal. On the pages of a SMASH HITS 1987 diary, and deep into my psyche, the words "THIS YEAR I WILL GET A BOYFRIEND" ruled my life. If I could get someone to like me, that would prove I was worthwhile, and prove that I was somebody.
Sadly, I was cripplingly shy as a youngster, and most boys tended to like the girls who laughed and talked, instead of the ones who sat mute, gazing in wonder and fear at this strange species called "boy". I had no idea how to relate to them. Coming from a family of 3 girls, I had no clues, and trudged through life, and highschool alternately avoiding and stalking a succession of guys. In my mind, I fashioned scenarios where I spoke to the pretty boy who'd been occuping my thoughts. Sadly, in real life, I stared at him so hard in the canteen line, that he and his friends started to laugh every time I walked past. I had no clue.
Then, in Year 11, I discovered alchol! Through this magic elixir, I discovered that I could talk to BOYS! I could be witty and funny and unleash all the conversational gambits that wouldn't come out of my mouth otherwise.
I had some success with boys in my uni years and beyond, but my mission to self destruct was starting to interfere with my romantic life. Some of my suitors even had the temerity to suggest that I had a drinking problem. It all came to a head when I started to realise that if a guy really liked me, I'd ruin things, by getting drunk, by running away or behaving badly. I started going to counselling, where, layer by layer, I realised that I didn't really like myself - so if any guy showed an interest in me, I assumed he was insane, or joking. Or both. I started to realise that I couldn't really be in a relationship until I worked on myself.
And so, three months after that revelation, I started going out with Richard, and six months after that, we were engaged. Hey, if you're going to work through existential dilemmas, it's better to drag someone else along for the ride, and make their life miserable too, innit? Poor Richard. He's definitely seen me through some hard times, but he's an amazing husband (and person), and has given me the space to become truly me.
So what's the quick fix for a low self esteem? Enter counselling immdiately. You can't unravel years of patterns by yourself. Some of us are more emotional and prone to depression. It's a medical thing. You wouldn't try and treat asthma by yourself, would you? Lose the guilt, and realise that the most important thing that you can do for your friends and family is to LOVE YOURSELF.
My existential dilemma came to a head when I had Alex. Having kids is a surefire trigger for more "who am I" questions, and for someone like me who has tried to be what other people want me to be all my life, it was a freakout. But - thanks to my amazing family and friends, I've come out the other side stronger and more sure of myself. Not everyone has to like me. Not everyone has to share my opinon. But you know what, as long as I'm honest about me, that can never be wrong. I realise that I'm not everyone's cup of tea. Sometimes I'm too honest, too frank, too into emotional mumbo jumbo. But you know what? I like that.
I like me. I even love me. Do you love you too? You should. Cause you're awesome.