Self-worth

This title…with no words attached to it has been sitting in my drafts for a couple of weeks…its been taunting me. Daring me to write something honest and vulnerable and a little bit ugly.

I guess I could never find the beginning which is technically the past and not a place I like to reside…so I will just start with the now and see where I end up.

I’m sitting at my dining room table, with the window open because I like the cold…and I have a blanket on my lap, a cup of sleepy time tea in an adorable mug, a playlist that consists of calm yet inspiring music (think Sigur Ros & Explosions in the Sky).

I am happy. 

I am content. 

I can imagine the mumbles and the whispers of the people reading this.

“So, what?”

“She’s so lucky.”

Why can’t I have that? Why can’t I have that moment?”

What kind of drugs is this girl on?”

Your response to the statement:

I’m content.

Is directly related to the relationship you have with your own contentment.

Mine has been one of epic despair.

Peacefulness, mindfulness and contentment has never come easy to me; I used to be unable to remember a time in my life in which I was perfectly happy with where I was, who I was with and with what I was doing. The more blessed my life became the more things seemed to spiral out of control.

I was loved and I was in love.
I had friendships with depth and sincerity.
I had work and I had dreams.
I had a home and I had things.
I had a family who’s dysfunction could not overcome our love.
I had so much more than most.
And it wasn’t enough.

Almost 2 years ago…my insecurities, my restlessness and my desire for more began swallowing me whole.

My life, my emotions and my self worth became fully dependent on my worth to those around me. Criticism, no matter how small, could send me to my knees. I lost weight, I bought clothes, I spent $100’s of dollars on makeup and skin care products. I lived my life consumed with

“when I get this”
“when I weigh this much”,
“when I can afford to do this”,
“when this person says this”

…only to find out that when one of those things happened I didn’t find the peace I so desperately sought.

I placed my heart and my trust in the hands of people who didn’t deserve it and instead took advantage of my weakness.

I did and said things I wasn’t proud of.

I convinced people I was the opposite of insecure, even if cost me my own grace.

I know it probably sounds dramatic. People suffer from much worse than a constant sense of unworthiness but that kind of thought only brought about more self loathing.

How can I be so unhappy when there are people fighting much larger battles?

 The truth is…the way I was living, it could have been detrimental

to my future
to my relationships
to my physical health.

So, how did I get here? How am I so pleased with a Wednesday night at home, alone, a cup of tea and an excellent playlist?

It started on the day that my mom woke up and decided to start fighting a battle against something I was sure was going to take her life. 

The details of her story are not yet mine to tell, but I watched her change right before my eyes. I found strength in her struggle and hope in the glow that was slowly returning to her eyes. I thought she would die and here she was more alive than ever.

And so, one year ago, my journey to find wholeness began.

This is the part in a movie when a really upbeat Sara Bareilles song would begin playing and I would be all fixed by the end of it. 

I wish.

The first thing I did after realizing how much of my life I’ve wasted in this head of mine was take a really hot bath, play some really sad songs and cry until the water had gone cold. I waited for the water heater to fill up and then I filled that tub up again.

This probably went on for about a week. The water bill was insane.

And then, I went to church (cliche, yes, but extremely effective!!) I spent hours in Barnes and Noble searching for books about happiness and finding it, I researched, I ran….I ran so much. I read a lot of Hannah Brencher blogs. I wore a rubber band around my wrist and snapped it every time I had a thought filled with self-loathing or insecurity (I wouldn’t recommend that.) I journaled and I prayed…a lot. I made my thoughts and my control over them a priority over every other thing in my life. I made an effort to stop my negative thoughts before they were complete and finishing them with positive ones.

I decided if I could give this change in myself, everything I had for 30 days straight, then it would get easier. And when 30 days was up I promised myself 30 more.

After 3 months…

I did more.

I eliminated the people in my life who antagonized these kind of negative thoughts. 

I analyzed my actions and the reasons behind them. 

I leaned into my significant other and I let his kind words and compliments settle into my heart instead of dismissing them as a product of his love. 

I began doing things and making decisions based on the way they made me feel, not on the reactions of others.

I eat healthy and I exercise because living feels better that way.

I seek out work that inspires me and creates passion instead of basing my work on where it will get me.

I look to makeup as a passion and something I love instead of a mask. 

I do nice things for my friends, for my family, for my love…because I want to, not because I am searching for their praise and validation.

It’s not always as inspiring as it may seem written neatly on your screen.

There are still tears, struggles, setbacks…

“I’m fat”
“I’m stupid”
“I’m ugly”
“Why do you even love me?”

Come tumbling recklessly out of my mouth, but I don’t invite those thoughts to stay. I don’t soak myself in them and I don’t abuse myself with them.

I have learned to channel some of the adoration and love I’m so quick to hand over to others into myself as well.

The hardest step of all….was learning to love who I was in the past. Lost and vain and naively needy as that girl was…she meant well, and instead of regretting the years in which this journey almost swallowed me up…I’ve learned to love them. I look back on them fondly and I’m grateful for the time I spent so utterly lost and even more…I am grateful for the people that contributed to the misery.

Without them, without those years I would have no idea how wonderful it is to sit here, drinking tea, listening to melodies, watching my breath appear barely visible in my cold dining room and just being. 

 

  • Britt

    Thank you for this. I never read blogs… just happened to like the quote on pinterest (which I also rarely go on) and clicked on it so I could make it my background on my computer. It is amazing… the feeling of being so totally and completely understood by anyone, no less someone who doesn’t know me. It reminds me how human my journey is. I hope to be able to tell this same story soon. Not there yet… but, working away 🙂 Enjoy every minute of your well deserved bliss.

    • Hayley Grade

      This is the very reason why I wrote the post. In the hopes that someone, somewhere would feel understood and validated. Good to hear your working on your happy ending!

  • Jody Johnson

    I think more people feel like this or have felt like this at a time than not. It reminds me of when I was newly married and just out of college. I had a PLAN. I was so focused on getting the ‘right’ furniture, career, clothing, etc. etc.doing the ‘right’ thing next. . . sadly I forgot the wonderful things that I DID have-which were not things at all. Love your blog.

    • Hayley Grade

      You are right! It is something that affects everyone in varying degrees! Your comment helped to remind me to stop and consider and to admire everything that I have accomplished and all of the things about me I genuinely like! So thanks for that! Love that you love the blog!! x,Hayley

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