Better late than never, I am in my mid-thirties and trying to figure out this self-esteem thing. I’m not sure I’ve ever really had any. That makes me sad, now, for that little girl I used to be. I know I had to have had dreams and ambitions at some point when I was young. Surely I, at one time, felt the world was my oyster and all that magical shit.
No one ever built me up when I was young. Not only did they not build me up, but they worked their hardest to keep me down.
I have vague memories of my mom entering me in an obnoxious beauty pageant, when I was in Preschool or Kindergarten. The only clear memory I have of it is my father telling me not to babble on like an idiot once I got up on the stage. So, I said nothing at all. How, as a child, was I supposed to determine what was babbling or not? Rather than be punished for “disobeying”, I stayed small and quiet. For the rest of my childhood (and into my adulthood.)
I left home at 15, bouncing from relative to relative, hoping to feel as though I belonged somewhere, anywhere. I was already damaged goods, though. Nobody really wanted a depressed, fucked up teenager around.
I was very, very close to my maternal grandmother. She was the only one I ever really felt love from, as a child. I ended up staying with her in her one bedroom project apartment. It didn’t keep me from spiraling out of control, though. When you are a mildly attractive teenager with no self-worth, you attract the worst of the worst.
It was gross.
I ended up working at a food truck for a traveling carnival crew. Yup. I was a 15/16 year old “carny”… so you can imagine the crowd of people I was surrounded by on a daily basis.
I ended up married, at 16, to a man a decade older and just…truly awful. We lived in a tiny shack with no bathroom or running water, behind his parent’s house. It was bad.
He ended up cheating on me right at a year of an incredibly miserable marriage with a girl he worked with who was a very unattractive, 30-something virgin. I was devastated and let it define how worthless of a person I must be to have been cast aside for her. (Obviously, now I know that it wasn’t about me. He was just a loser and I was lucky to be out!)
However, at 17, I was not so mature and I let what little confidence I had, sink even lower. I developed some not so healthy habits and ended up getting on a Greyhound to live with a stranger I met on the internet, halfway across the country.
That went about as well as anyone could imagine…but, it definitely could have been worse.
I ended up coming back a year later, because my grandma was ill and wasn’t expected to get better. She didn’t and I met who turned out to be my second ex-husband and father of my teenager. I ended up pregnant a month later. My grandmother passed away when I was about six months pregnant so I had no one left who cared.
It was a disaster from the beginning and I spent the next decade of my life with a man I didn’t even like. I thought that’s what I was supposed to do, I guess. My mom never liked my dad. She spent my entire childhood telling me she was terrified of him and he was kinder to her than he was to me. I was young and completely blind to any other options. My family didn’t give a shit so I just… survived.
I didn’t leave for good until he started being ugly to my son. I, at least, knew he deserved a better life.
I met the love of my life really soon after I separated from my ex. I didn’t expect it and I certainly wasn’t prepared for it. I found myself jealous, untrusting and insecure at every turn. I shoved it down and tried to keep myself from lashing out every time I felt threatened or worried. It’s been a struggle to learn how to truly love someone else as well as myself for the first time, ever.
In the midst of this passionate relationship building, my career took some hits. I left a corporate focused salon, and struck out on my own, renting a booth in another salon. It was great at first and then the owners craziness started to chase everyone’s clients away and I ended up falling a week behind on my boothrent. She, then, asked me to leave.
Ok. Fuck. I’d failed.
I was going to keep trying though. I was still in the middle of getting my Associates in digital photography, we had just moved, but I kept my head up and did what I had to do.
I found another salon and it seemed perfect for me. It was even within walking distance of our home! The women who rented the building both wanted out and were looking for someone to take over, eventually. For the first time, I felt like everything was working out. I was planning on doing my photography there as well and really making it my own. I had business plans in order and ready to go. I was pumped!
Then, like three days before Christmas, the lady who was left texted me and told me that, and I’m not kidding, Jesus had come to her and told her to give the salon to someone she went to church with and she wanted my stuff out by the end of the year. (Which was when I was supposed to take over.)
I’ve been working from home since then, and can’t see myself in someone else’s salon anytime in the near future. However, I don’t think I was able to accept how much all of this rocked me. I felt so completely out of control and, again, worthless!
Since then, we have had a new baby (enter PPD) and are learning how to really be in a loving, supportive family together.
I’m really working on self-care for the first time in my life. It took a few years of being with my partner to even realize I deserved to actually love myself, to feel confident! That it’s important to feel good about yourself, first. I’ve recently began taking antidepressants and am finally able to see that I suffer from a complete lack of self-esteem. I’ve never really put in the work before.
I am now.
(Also, for my sons. I want them to know their mom as a happy, confident woman who smiles more often than not. I might have missed that chance with my oldest, but he gets to watch me grow and learn, which is also quite valuable!)
But, you know, for me too! 🙃