Reflecting on Self-worth


Some weeks ago, walking home after an excellent massage with my Myotherapist, a persistent thought rose up within me ..

“I value myself now”. I kept repeating this phrase to myself as I walked.

It has taken me all this time to truly, really value my self. I turned sixty-nine years old the other day and I have never valued my self in the way I do now.

I wish I had valued my self in this way when I was younger, but I just didn’t. Does it always take this long I wonder ? Maybe not, if the right ingredients are in place that nurture one’s self-worth. Research shows that if a child receives a great deal of explicit love and affirmation from their primary carer during the first five years of their life, about who they are and their value in this world, they are more likely to have a good sense of themselves in adulthood and feel worthy. This positive mirror reflecting back to them from their loving caregiver, acts as an internal anchor that they can call upon whenever they find themselves under stress. This gives them a sense of greater emotional robustness and resilience.

I suspect there are many that feel the same as me however, about taking a long time to feel ok about themselves.

The experiences of significant trauma can also seriously undermine one’s self-worth. Healing my self after trauma has been a huge journey for me, as I have attempted to face all those bleeding wounds over the years.

And is every wound ever completely healed ? I don’t believe so. As I frequently say to my clients, one learns with trial and error to live more gently with such wounds. That is the way it is, with psychological injuries sustained as a consequence of sexual, physical and emotional abuse, or any other significant trauma.

One never completely gets over it ….

Take the other day for instance. A photo came through on Facebook of my ex-partner. The one who turned out to be a narcissist! This photo was taken seven years ago on my birthday, one week before my big move to Melbourne to live wth him. In the photo we are sitting at a restaurant in Sydney with my daughter and her partner. I had flown over from NZ especially to celebrate my birthday with him (my now ex) and my daughter. He had flown from Melbourne to Sydney for the occasion of my birthday and to reconnect with my daughter.

Just like that, gazing at this photo I was triggered into sadness and grief at how ‘loved up’ I looked in that photo as I remembered how happy I felt back then. I missed that feeling of being ‘in love’. I missed how I felt seven years ago, filled up with the promise of love.

I cried that morning, alone in my bedroom, as I looked at that photo. I thought about how much my life has been affected by abuse, not just by this abusive partner, but in other relationships also.

I wondered how my life may have been different, if I had never experienced abuse.

My sad feelings that morning, were also intensified by the news of a beautiful younger friend, who had just sent me joyous photos of her engagement moment, with her partner. She said of her new fiancé in a message to me, “He’s the right one for me. He is my best friend.”

I felt so happy for her and at the same time, I also envied her joy and the trust she felt in her partner and in love.

I wished when I was her age I had felt that kind of confidence in love.

And so, I hold both emotions … grateful that I feel worthy now and finally have trust in my self and who I am, and sad that the rich treasure of self-worth, was not the portion of my younger years.

Anyone else relate ? 😊

rosmlewis

Clinician, Lecturer, Group Facilitator, Educator and Supervisor in Education, Social Services and Mental Health.

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About me

Rosalind Lewis

Rosalind Lewis

Professionally I have 33 years experience as a Clinician, Lecturer, Group Facilitator, Educator and Supervisor in Education, Social Services and Mental Health. I currently live in Melbourne, Australia and work in Mental Health. I have a particular interest in supporting and empowering women and men to be all they can be, by assisting the discovery of tools that help them find strength to transform difficulties into opportunities, enriching their lives both personally and professionally. I am a New Zealand Registered Psychotherapist with PBANZ, member of the New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists and have a Masters of Health Science (Psychotherapy) First Class Honours. My research thesis was about the long term consequences of intimate partner violence for women. I am influenced and informed by both my professional experiences and my own personal journey, which has involved many challenges and celebrations along the way.