Everything I’ve read about being a survivor says self-esteem is of vital importance and you’ll never recover without it. Ditto that on DID, only then you have to not only accept/like/love one self, but many. It sounds like a nice idea, but I’m not convinced anymore that it’s absolutely necessary.
I could go off on a long whine about why I don’t like myself/selves. I could tell you lots of sad stories about all the people who were mean to me and convinced me I’m worthless. But I do that enough anyway, and I don’t much see the point. Today, I’m tired of pity, whether from myself or from others.
I’ve tried the self-esteem workbooks. I’ve tried looking in the mirror and saying five nice things about myself every day. I’ve tried asking friends why they like me. I’ve tried turning every negative thought about myself into a positive one. And on and on. None of it has worked because, below the surface, I know I’m just lying to myself.
I know there are good things about me. I’m smart, I’m pretty, I write well, I’m an excellent knitter, I’m good at improvising, I’m great at memorization, I was a talented gymnast, I read absurdly fast, I’m good at fixing things. Somehow, though, that doesn’t translate into liking myself or even convincing myself I’m not an utterly worthless, terrible person.
I’ve lived without self-esteem for as long as I can remember. No, my life hasn’t been anywhere near great, but I’ve survived so far. I haven’t managed to delete myself or ended up completely broken. That leads me to question the supposed necessity of self-esteem. If it were truly so necessary, then how come I’ve managed to make it to 25 without it?
So I’ve decided it isn’t a goal for me anymore. I want my goals to be more concrete and realistic. I want to deal with the trauma. I want to figure out how to function with the DID/depersonalization/derealization. I want to be financially independent. I want to develop non-destructive coping skills that actually work. I want to get the depression and anxiety under control. I want to go back to school and finish my undergrad work; then I want to go to law school.
Maybe, somewhere in all of that, I’ll spontaneously start liking myself. Maybe not. But I’m not going to keep devoting so much time to a goal that no one can tell me, concretely, how to approach. I’d rather focus on realistic goals.