To Every Woman & Man (A Letter About Fear, Shame, Value, and Worth)
I’ve had it on my heart to write this letter to you. Something stuck with me the other day when you were talking about your relationships with others. You admitted sometimes feeling like you're an imposition to others or an after thought or even just a placeholder. You were questioning your worth to some. Now, I realize that you also have many positive relationships. However, the first part of your story has stayed with me for days. I’m going to try to share some thoughts with you, I hope you can hear them.
I kept thinking about how crappy it feels for one to think that s/he is an imposition or an afterthought to someone else. I remember struggling with those feelings for years, especially during my own losses, heartbreak, and marital crises. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but my crises and time spent alone—though deeply painful and scaring—eventually became a gift of freedom from those struggles. When I found myself alone, humiliated, without my partner, without some friends, I felt totally valueless and replaceable. I realized that even though I had previously put on a very confident front to everyone I was actually drowning in self-doubt and “not feeling like I’m enough”…Not attractive enough, not fun enough, not caring or warm enough, not a good enough parent, not a good enough spouse, and beyond…I felt like I was an overall undesirable person. All of my relationships were negatively impacted by this unconscious shame and fear of “not enough” but I didn’t realize any of that until after my marriage imploded.
However, my time alone forced me to face those demons head on. Those feelings of “not being enough” were literally going to be the death of me so I’ve spent everyday of my life trying to be free of them. While I know I will always be imperfect and will struggle with self-doubt and self-confidence issues, I am a far cry from that person who was always trying to hustle for my worthiness and prove that I’m desirable or loveable or fun to be with. I try to remember that I’m flawed but I bring a pretty great package to any friend and loved one that wants to be a part of my life; as long as I'm honest and own my strengths and shortcomings. I just want to make sure you always realize that about yourself.
Its a crazy time of life when we're balancing the kids, the social lives, spouses, friends, jobs, personal goals, etc. It can all feel soul-sucking. In a world where everyone displays all their successes, good looks, intelligence, fun events, and fabulous friendships, it can leave one floundering and sometimes questioning what you offer your friends and loved ones. I had it on my heart to make sure that you knew what an amazing package you offer everyone. My hope for you is that you never question your worth or what you bring to the table. You’re wicked smart, beautiful, considerate, funny, loyal, a devoted spouse and parent, and compassionate toward others. And these characteristics exude out of you, just by being around you. You don’t have to prove your worth to any of those friends/loved ones/acquaintances or ever feel like an afterthought to them. Anyone who chooses to be in a relationship/friendship with you is lucky to have you in their life. Period.
In conclusion, I’ve learned that questioning one’s worth and value to others can become insidious. It happens so unconsciously but eats away at every relationship one has. I’m not saying that you’re wallowing away in worthlessness, by any means. I’ve just found it’s a difficult balancing act. In any given day, I’m the worst parent/professional/partner/friend and then the best parent/professional/partner/friend. The self-doubt and shame seep in and can grow exponentially if they are not realized and sorted out; especially if I’m not living authentically and congruently.... Anyway, I just wanted to take some time to remind you how valuable you are. You are “enough” in every sense of the word. I hope you never question that, no matter what happens in your friendships, your marriage, or with any other relationship you have.