IIt's snowing again today. It's falling in huge white flakes, just like last night on the effectively pointless yet enjoyable walk I took with Kim and Katie. It's really beautiful; I've left the window open so I can look out at it as I work.
I may be delving into my own emotions a little more personally today than I typically do in "public" like this. But I think it's important and necessary for my own psyche to put something down as solidly as this, to make myself commit to doing what I need to commit to doing. You'll understand, perhaps, as you read on.
My major mental and emotional task of late has been something that I should have been working on for a long time. I have, in fact, been giving lip service to trying to work on it for ages, but it's only recently that I've actually begun to try to put serious effort into it.
It's hard work, because I'm trying to deal with a problem that has been part of who I am for years. For as long as I can remember, I've always basically thought of my self-worth in terms of what other people think of me. When someone (or more than one someone) has loved me and cared about me, I've felt special and thought of myself as a good person. When I've felt lonely, or thought that my friends were willing to spend time with me but didn't care about me on any deeper level, I've seen myself as worthless and unlovable and been generally miserable.
This has been able to persist in large part because of the character of my teenage years, in which there were intermittent periods during which I felt genuinely loved and cared about. If I hadn't had these times to fall back on, I probably would have developed some sort of backbone out of self-preservation. (That, or I would have gone off the deep end and become seriously depressed.) Yet the good times always alternated with the bad times, so that I've spent plenty of time stewing in feelings of loneliness, wondering what is so terribly wrong with me. But there always seemed to be someone who would come, eventually, to lift me up.
That's not healthy, though, and I'm starting to come to terms with that. I am the person who I am, regardless of what anyone else thinks or sees. I'm not a good person because I'm loved; I'm loved because someone sees me as a good person. The way to make myself happy is not to have someone to convince me every day for the rest of my life that I'm worth loving. It's to be able to believe that for myself.
At least, this is what I've been trying to tell myself. It's a lot easier to type the words out, though, than to genuinely believe them. Part of the problem is that as I see the people who've cared about me who've drifted away, I turn my own words back on myself. "So I'm the same person no matter what others think of me, right? Well, if people who've known me so closely could leave me, they must have discovered that I'm unlovable. So that must be inherently true, and if people do care about me they're obviously mistaken and just haven't gotten to know me well enough yet." It's a fear that paralyzes and tortures me whenever I see or imagine that someone doesn't love me anymore. It makes me a rather insecure person.
This may sound like a somewhat depressing journal entry, but it's really not intended to be. This is me trying to face up to who I am, and trying to commit myself to change something that'll be very difficult to change.
One of the ironies, though, is that in order to undertake this process, I need to lean on the very crutch that I'm trying to rid myself of dependence on. In order to find the strength to fly in the face of what has characterized my emotions for at least the last eight years, I need to believe that I am a strong person, a good person, a worthwhile person. And right now, to get that strength, I need to feel that I am loved. As much as I'm working to make it so that it doesn't matter what other people think of me, I need to feel special and lovable or the whole process will just collapse. That's frustrating, but it's the way things are with me right now, and denying that reality would only make things worse for me.
But I don't think that means that the process is useless or impossible. I'm making myself think about it in a way I never have before. I'm not letting myself ignore the problems the way I have before when things are good, with the sense that whoever loves me always will and so it's irrelevant whether I can live without them. I'm keeping this struggle in mind every day, conscious every time I let someone's feelings about me affect me and trying to minimize the blow. It's something I've never tried like this before. I know I have the ability to make it work. And if I keep working on it, not only will I be happier and stronger myself, but it will surely help my friendships and relationships as well.
I can do this. I know I can do this. I know I can do this.
27 December, 2002
Intellectual Property Rights denounced by Britt Gordon-McKeon, 2002