I was speaking with a very wise young woman yesterday who is half my age, one of my closest friends and confidantes, and like a daughter too. We were discussing low self-esteem and self-confidence issues (two things I am working on in myself).
These are areas (for anonymities’ sake, I’ll call her Amanda) that Amanda excels in. I am so impressed with her wisdom and the humor she uses in the midst of adversity (which she faces often). People have mocked and bullied her since high school days (she is in her thirties now). Amanda is a stoutly, self-assured, upbeat, self-respecting woman whose positive, tolerant, friendly, and fiercely loyal stance earned her a bevy of friends (many – societal misfits). Queen Latifah would be proud of her.
Examples of her ability to handle uncomfortable situations:
A group of “popular” girls in high school used to berate her eclectic style of clothing. She would stare directly into their eyes, one by one, and say: “Well, at least I’m not a carbon copy of you four.” Witty.
In stores, young men call out “what a fat pig”. She looks them over to find their physical flaws. and then throws it back at them. That shuts their mouths and sometimes makes their jaws drop.
It is not that she wants to be cruel, but she said she finds that this method works best when people are cruel towards her first.
There are many other ways Amanda exudes confidence and exhibits a strong self-esteem. I asked her how she managed this.
“When I was growing up, my father used to drill this into me and my siblings: Never let anyone make you feel badly about yourself. Remember this. We are all “humans”. No one is better than you and you are not better than anyone.”
She reiterated this to me. “Nancy, you are a human. Everyone in the world is a human. You care too much about what other people think. Once you stop that, it will help your self-esteem.”
Confidence is a choice. My disability and using a wheelchair make me feel awkward, weird, and insecure – a societal misfit. I focus too much on how I look to others. Instead, I must learn to love myself and embrace my flaws in order to be a truly effective victims’ assistant and advocate. Victims can sense insecurities which makes them less likely to trust a person. After all, I am not the only person with a disability in the world. Why I even label myself is a sign of my low self-esteem.
Like Amanda said – We are all human, no one is better than me and I am no better than anyone else. We are all on an even plane. And, for those of us who believe in a loving higher being, that love should be all we need to sustain us. It is unfair for me to have expectations of others and put undue pressure upon them. People have enough “on their plate”. Lessons I have learned over the years.
I truly love many people, but I admit some bitterness and resentment towards those who have hurt me lives inside of me. Not only that, but I feel as though I let people down a lot even when I am not sure how. I tend to over analyze. I need to continually speak to myself lovingly, encouragingly, and protectively until I finally fall in love with me and watch any bitterness and resentment fade into oblivion.
Not words you would expect from a young woman whose much-older brother raped her from the age of four until she was eight and who threatened to hurt her if she told anyone. Not only that, but, as sometimes is the pattern of sexually abused children, when she was in her late teens she dated an abusive man. One day he beat her severely and left her for dead.
Mercy saved her in the form of another man. He found her bleeding, unconscious body and rushed her to the hospital.
Amanda was terrified of men. The last thing she expected was that she would fall for her rescuer, a giant of a man compared to her five-foot-four frame. He fell in love with her and pursued her slowly. Eventually, Amanda found herself falling for this guy.
They have been together for thirteen years. He understands her, giving her space when she needs it, and loving her unconditionally. And, a few months ago, she finally accepted his sixth proposal. 🙂
I admire this woman who attends to the needs of other almost fifty hours a week. Amanda is a selfless, honest, kind, generous woman with excellent work ethics, but a real takes-no-bullshit gal. She is the leader of my “crew” 🙂 , my wonderful circle of support for which I am extremely grateful.