The barista at the coffee shop wore a shirt that said in simple Times New Roman font, "I'm choosing me." I told her I liked her shirt and that I need to do that.
Can we talk a moment about self-worth? Or, one step deeper: the narrative we tell ourselves?
It was early April and I was really confused. I had a great relationship and a great job. Actually, both of them were my dream. But I wasn't happy. I struggled every day with feeling good enough to have either of those things.
The narrative I told myself was this: you'll never find love and you'll always be this... mismatched sock. You're a really creative and cool sock, my sister, but you'll never find someone that will be your match. You're just too different. Own that sh*t though. You're different! That's okay, you just won't find love.
Translated to my self-worth: You are not worthy of love or worthy of achieving your goals. You'll always be "one step behind." Everyone else is building something in life, and you're just placing bricks randomly around the world... not adding up to anything but displaced bricks.
I did all the things–yoga, meditation, put on the oils, went for long walks, drank water, prayed, and journaled. Nothing worked. I tried to give love to my partner, but I had a narrative going the whole time that I wasn't worthy of his love. I began to sabotage the situation. I figured that if I put some space between us, it would protect me. He would find something he doesn't love. He would find something unattractive. And that will end it all. I am going to prove to him that I am truly unlovable.
At a distance, I can be as fun and lovable as anyone. But, a soon as you get past the first 7 walls I built, it gets real. It gets scary. No more walls between you and me and now I could really get hurt. That's when the military of my mind marches in and begins to build stronger walls with barbed wire on top.
One hand holding my partner close and the other pushing them away. It took months of painful struggle for me to understand that not even love from the man I love will make me love myself. What now?
I visited my old church from college in Mankato, my sanctuary, and the pastor asked me how I'm doing. I said, "Do you want the real story?"
He said, "Yeah, don't feed me cupcakes with sprinkles, girl-- tell me the real story!"
I shared the shame. The doubt. The struggle in believing God was with me through this. I felt completely alone and like I was the only one in the world struggling with this. I was sure of it. Who else would have something so beautiful in front of them and push it away in fear?
After a few weeks of painfully sleepless nights, I began to search the internet for other people that might have experienced something similar. Turns out I'm not alone. And if you find yourself struggling with your own self-worth, you're not alone. If you find yourself struggling to re-write your narrative (or challenge the one you know), you're also not alone.
I'm not ashamed to say that I lost my way for a while in life. I grew up so strong in faith and confidence, and then life hit. It chipped away slowly at my confidence in me. Confidence in God. I'm also not ashamed to say that I've battled with mental health for years. I have been to therapy (several times) and have circled around the knowledge of mental illness to learn more about myself. My library of mental health podcasts, books, and apps is... either impressive or terrifying. Maybe both?
I wanted to do anything to make myself feel better so I indulged in relationships. They made me feel better for a little bit, but at the end of the day, it was just me with me.
And it's still me with me. I started waking up and looking in the mirror, crying for a while, and then telling myself, "I love you, Emilee. I love you, Emilee." I repeated that until I smiled at her in the mirror. The girl I believed in and was also ashamed of.
I went backpacking for three days on the Superior Hiking Trail in Minnesota repeating, "I love you, God. Thank you, God."
I believe this hurt, this pain, is part of the necessary refining process. I trust that God is healing me, cleansing me, and making me pure once again. No matter my past; no matter your past. You can begin again.
---> Re-write your narrative <---
Remind yourself who you are. It will change over time, and that's okay. It's okay if you feel you've completely messed it up. It's okay if you did things you're ashamed of. It's okay if you failed to make the "right" decision. Or if you feel like you've completely messed it up.
God's power is greater than your circumstance. Pain produces perseverance. And he makes beauty out of ashes.