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For a very very long time, i did not think i was worth much. My self-esteem was non-existent resulting in life choices that weren’t the best. I didn’t particularly like myself, so loving myself wasn’t even on the radar, and because i couldn’t find the love inside i depended on it from outside, from others. And, as we all know, that is the way to almost guaranteed disappointment. I lived with that girl/woman for 32 years and at no point during those years was i her best friend – I was her enemy. i tripped her up at every turn, i berated her in front of others, i apologised for her when she had done nothing wrong, i fed her cigarettes and alcohol rather than listen to what her heart was saying.

And then something horrific happened, and my world fell apart. And here’s the thing – the life i lost, the one i had stitched around me in the shape i thought i should inhabit, fell away so easily because it was built on nothing. The love was real, my god yes it was, but all the layers of self i had constructed over the years weren’t coming from the real me… because i had never given the real me a chance to breathe. I hadn’t danced with her, i hadn’t asked her what she liked. The real me did not have a voice; the real me was so hidden i didn’t think she existed.

So my years of grieving were made all the more painful – and ultimately all the more healing – because, finally, i had nothing i could hide behind anymore. I had to face myself, for the first time ever. I had to learn who i was and make sense of where I was all at the same time, bone by bone, piece by piece. I wouldn’t wish that sort of heart-breaking solitude on anyone, and it is certainly not the only way to find your real self. But it’s what happened on my path, and now i am so grateful to have had the opportunity to dig inside my self and see if there was anything of any value. And as it turns out, i didn’t have to do anything more dramatic than sit with myself for a while and just be. Therapy helped the process, but so did walks on the beach and artist’s dates with my camera. So did writing in my journal and letting myself cry all night when the pain was more than i could bear. It was being present with myself, and not running away and hiding.

These days I am gentler with my self. I’m kinder to that girl with low self-esteem because I know that’s all she ever needed from me – kindness. I don’t walk around thinking I’m the cat’s whiskers – ha! Far from it! – but these days i try to be my own cheerleading squad of one (when premenstrosity allows, mind. Some days are easier than others.) Life is so bloody short and i can either beat myself up for whatever perceived screw up i have done, or i could make myself a mug of rooibos tea, pick up a book and do the things that comfort and support me. Because i’m trying really hard to do my best – some days it’s easier than others, and that’s okay. We are all doing our best. We are all worthy of love and support from ourselves, today and every day.

* This post is inspired by Brene Brown’s fabulous Week of Worthiness over on her blog, Ordinary Courage. Brene has given me a copy of her new DVD, The Hustle for Worthiness, to giveaway, so if you want a chance to get your mitts on it, please leave a comment telling us one really awesome thing about yourself, big or small (and i’ll draw the winner on Friday Saturday morning). I’ll start:

I know how to make people laugh :)