Thursday, August 31, 2017

19 of 25 Things

As I started my journey working through these, it was to clarify to myself what I went through. However, as I've worked, I've discovered a deeper reason for exploring each "Thing." Each of the 25 Things applied to me. I also realize that I've worked through some. They are no longer a problem. I've made progress on all of them. This is an opportunity to look back and see how far I've come. It's important to do that, once in a while.

Original post from The Mighty:

19. My whole childhood was emotional abuse. It is extremely hard for me to accept I have people in my life who actually care about me. That’s the worst one. I am nothing to myself so why would I matter to others?

My sister's response:

My response:

Yes, I struggled with this one, for decades. It continued in spite of evidence to the contrary.

In 1986, I spent the summer in England. I was treated like royalty. People went out of their way to help me, strangers and new friends. There were also a few who used me because I still had no boundaries. Part of my running away was looking for people who wouldn't violate my boundaries. I didn't connect that it was my responsibility to define those boundaries and maintain them.

In 2002, I joined the twentieth century and added the internet to my life. Why? I'd seen "Fellowship of the Rings" and I wanted to connect with other people who loved it as much as I did. I discovered the wonder of instant boundaries. No one could see me. No one knew my name, unless I told them. No one knew where I lived. If I didn't like something, I could close the tab and/or go to a different site. The computer taught me about boundaries. My third counselor taught me how to apply what I'd learned to the physical world.

Back to the "Lord of the Rings" fan club. I made friends, some of whom I still hold dear. Over and over, they demonstrated their concern for me. Online friends are real people and capable of being real friends. These amazing people helped me transfer this understanding to people not on the computer.

However, the love of these people could not make me love myself. Love of self must come from within. I'm not a fan of "fake it till you make it." Too often, it leads to simply faking it. Learning to love myself required I say positive things to myself I didn't believe.

Learning to love yourself is a two-prong path: Physical and mental. Eating better, exercising, keeping clean, wearing clothes that are clean and fit are all things that show me I care about myself. Positive self-talk, developing healthy relationships, spending time with God are all things that reinforce the perception that I care about myself. One supports the other.

Caring about myself makes it easier to care about others. Caring about myself reassures others I'm capable of caring about them. I'm far from perfect, but I've come a long way from where I used to be.

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