You're hurting, because you feel no one sees you. Perhaps that's true. For years now, you've listened to friends and family tell you how amazing your wife is, or your daughter, though no one says these things about you. Your wife and daughter have told you about it. You asked your wife if anyone ever does, and they don't. It's getting to you, especially lately. It hurts, and your hurt and your feelings are valid. However, you have to remember the things about you that are good, and wonderful, even if no one else ever sees any of them. So, Self, here is a list:
- You were a single mother who was brave enough to leave a bad marriage where you and your very character were torn down daily. Where you were cheated on and left to raise a newborn alone. You left, and then you raised a baby on your own. When you needed help, you didn't let your pride get in the way. You asked your parents and your grandmothers and your sisters. You got a job, and when you were laid off, you went back to school full-time and worked two part-time jobs to work toward the future while making ends meet...and still loving on and raising your sweet daughter.
- You have a wonderful relationship with your daughter. You two are two peas in a pod. So alike, it's uncanny. You still hold her, and she still wants to be held. She promises she'll always hold your hand and cuddle with you, even when she's an adult. She confides in you and is transparent with you. She is smart and kind. She can carry on a conversation with an adult and play in the mud with the kids. She tries to include everyone all the time. You play a role in shaping her. Take some credit for being a good mom, and a good mom who hasn't had it easy. You've done a good job, and you'll continue to do a good job.
- You came out. You accepted who you were, and you stand tall. You didn't hide for very long at all, even knowing you'd lose friends and family members who believe you are a worthless sinner. You understood that loving yourself and being true was more important than their acceptance of a false version of you. You don't exclude parts of yourself to make others more comfortable. You are just you, whether they like it or not.
- You have a marriage worth fighting for, and you fight for it. When the going gets tough because life is tough, you don't let it break your marriage down. You love your wife with everything you have and then some, and would do anything for her. You have done so much for her. She tells you all the time what you have done for her...that you have helped her become more honest and real and gain courage to take risks and speak truth. You're a good wife, and one that speaks openly about your love for your wife because she deserves to be seen and loved for who she is.
- You started your own creative business and it's successful! You have always loved design, ever since you were a little girl, and you're designing for a living! You found a way to merge so many things you love...and you get to do it with your wife. You waited and worked and you're still working and waiting, but a dozen years later, you're making a living creating art. You are doing it. Remember that, even when it's tough and the lists are never ending and no one gives a shit that your design is what makes the project so good. Remember that when a client tells you that you don't do anything, because they have and continue to. Remember that. You keep the business running, the designs are yours and have made the business what it is. You can take credit for that.
- You are a survivor, Self. You have survived some pretty tough shit...divorce, single motherhood, death, job loss, that terrible car accident a week after you lost your job just a few months after leaving your marriage...it's been a lot. Self, you keep going. You have depression and anxiety and you're highly sensitive. INFJ and a enneagram 4. It's a whammy of epic proportions sometimes, and then life happens too, and life's not always been kind to you. Yet every single day you get up, and you keep going, and you keep loving, and you keep creating and striving and going after your dreams and goals.
- You're a good friend. Some people might tell you otherwise, but that's only because you decided you needed to have boundaries with people who weren't being kind to you. You let a lot of things slide first...you give friends chance after chance after chance, and you don't let them go until you know that what they're doing is truly wrong. You give it more thought than that. You don't cut people out of your life for no reason. You genuinely care about the people in your life, and you think about them often...maybe even more than they know. You know that you could be better about being communicative, and you're working on that. You're working on the right kind of boundaries. You're working on loving even deeper and harder.
- You will give people your all and your whole heart, even if they don't know it's theirs for the taking.
- You forgave your parents a long time ago for the pain that happened in childhood. You forgave them for what they said when you came out. You love them so much.
- You used to be afraid to leave the house, you were so depressed and your anxiety so intense. You went and sold everything you owned and moved into an Airstream you helped renovate and traveled all over anyway. You nearly lost it that one time in the Mission District in San Francisco, but you huddled on the floor of a ill-lit market until the panic attack passed...and you went on to enjoy a beautiful day with your family that you won't ever forget. You saw the bridge and the baths and had that beautiful vegan lunch. You have seen so much because you didn't let the pain and fear stop you. You aren't as scared or as sad anymore. You hardly are at all. You'd have never written a post like this even just a few years ago. The road has changed you because you were awake to it. You wanted it to change you.
- You didn't grow up around water, or camping, or traveling much, or being adventurous. Yet you've camped out of the back of your truck, travel as a way of life, and can pop up on water skis like you've done it a million times. It took you three years to actually get up on the skis, but now you love it. This year you went outside of the wake for the first time. You were so nervous, but you did it anyway. You didn't say no to trying something new simply because you were an adult.
- You make things around you beautiful. It might seem like a waste of time to others, but it makes you so happy. It's part of your personality type! Fours are romantics. This is what we do. We spend our lives surrounding ourselves with beauty, whether we create it or seek it or both. You do both. You create beauty in your home, the spaces you create for work, the photographs you take, and the words you write. You put yourself in the way of beauty as much as you possibly can. This brings you supreme joy, and your wife loves this about you. Your daughter loves this about you. They love what it brings into their lives. YOU do that.
- You're not great at building like your wife is. It doesn't come naturally to you, but you do it anyway because she needs you sometimes. You've learned so much while renovating these Airstreams! You used to be intimidated by a drill and could barely hold it correctly, but you can whip out 1/8 rivets like it's your job (because it is). You can use the chop saw, and the circular saw, and the table saw - even though they scare the shit outta you. You still struggle with measurements and math but you're getting better, and you always try. You can wield a polisher like it's nobody's business. You can catch mistakes by eye that the ruler didn't catch. You're really fucking strong and can lift 100 pounds with ease. Look at what you can do! Look at what you've learned! It's okay if you hate a lot of it, too - your strengths and passions lie elsewhere, and they are just as valuable.
- You know yourself. You're self-aware. You're constantly evaluating your emotions. If you could afford therapy all the time, you'd be in it all the time, but since you can't...you read books by Brene Brown and others and take notes and do the exercises and talk about it with your wife. When you can afford a session, you go. You put things you learn into practice. You admit when you fuck up, and you say you're sorry, even if sometimes it takes you some time before you actually apologize. You try really hard to grow, always, even if it means facing really scary, intimidating, uncomfortable, and painful things. You know you've got a long way to go, but that doesn't stop you from doing the work.
Self, if no one else sees you...be sure that you see you. Do you remember when Leslie Knope included herself on her wall of inspirational women? She said that she was big enough to admit she was inspired by herself. That's some self love, Self! You were uncertain that you should publish this, but you were only afraid because you were afraid that others would think poorly of you for trying to love yourself more...but the thing is, you feel better having written it. You hope that someone else will read it and maybe make a list like it. You wrote it for Self, but you published it to help others. You didn't let shame get in the way.
Self, you know that you can't lean on others who don't really take the chance to truly to know you to fulfill you or lift you up. They don't see you! You see you. You know what you've done, and what you've overcome, and what you have made of yourself and your life. You are inspiring, Self, to self! You are incredible, talented, loving, resilient, strong, and so very worthy of love...especially from yourself.
I am learning to really love you,