There’s a book I’m reading for work as part of my personal growth requirements. It’s Nathaniel Branden’s The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem. I find it well-written and it’s the foremost work on self-esteem.
As one might imagine, my self-esteem wasn’t stellar after my divorce. Actually, it was pretty much non-existent. I spent a long time hearing how terrible I was at everything in life and how I shouldn’t bother becoming a writer because I couldn’t ever be as good as J.K. Rowling. Eventually I realized that was horseshit. I was skilled at managing projects. I could write well enough to convey information to different audiences. I had friends who cared about me despite not seeing them much over a period that lasted about a decade.
It didn’t help that my natural inclination is to want to help people. I have had to learn that I’m not responsible for the happiness of others. They are.
And there’s nothing wrong with helping others, so long as you aren’t sacrificing your own happiness to do so. But I used to do that. I used to give what I had to my loved ones and I had nothing left for me.
I wasn’t accomplishing my goals. I was barely writing. I was exhausted all of the time. I wasn’t spending time with my friends. I didn’t even know who I was anymore.
I wasn’t happy.
I used to be a feisty, energetic type and I had become an empty shell who smiled when she was expected to and said all the right things or nothing at all. I was a zombie, but the friendly kind that didn’t eat faces and brains.
One day I woke up and realized that was fucked up. I wasn’t on this earth to simply placate everyone around me. I was on it to do something with my life.
So I stopped placating. There was friction and emotional abuse and ultimately it lead to me ending my marriage. If I couldn’t be myself with my partner, he wasn’t the right partner for me. Both of us were miserable and now we aren’t. I have zero doubt it was the right decision.
Of course I lost some friends along the way. But I regained old ones and made a lot of new ones.
Things haven’t been easy since. I’ve had times where my debit card was declined while trying to buy groceries. But there’s been far more good things than bad.
I know I’ve come a long way with my self-esteem or I would’ve just accepted an expensive car repair without bartering for a lower price. I wouldn’t have called another garage to get prices. I wouldn’t have called VISA to dispute charges I didn’t authorize either.
My life is vastly different and at times surreal. And while I haven’t accomplished all I’m aiming to yet, I’m working on my goals and I’m much happier.
Speaking of goals, Tuesday night I finished editing the second half of chapter 20, edited all of chapter 21, and got about half way through chapter 22. Chapters 23, 24, and 25 are a mess and more like outlines of chapters than actual chapters, so I’m hoping they won’t be too horrible to get through. I read endings are the hardest and many authors don’t spend enough time on doing them properly, so it’s okay if it takes a little bit of time to do it right. With 3.5 chapters left, I’m getting pretty excited to move on to the next stage of the process.
Only a couple of chapters left. I can do this!