Have you ever wished you could change just a few things about yourself?
A little quieter. Softer. Sweeter. Friendlier. Or could it be that you wished you could change into someone else entirely? I have.
If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably thought these things about yourself. You just wish you weren’t so… you. How nice it would be if you were one of those people that everyone likes.
Your personality is just too much.
Your personality is just not enough.
There’s so much about yourself you don’t like that you think to yourself, surely there’s someone who could be doing a better job with my children. Someone who’d be a better wife. My friends don’t call or text or check in on me. My extended family have their own things going on. You try to think of a single thing you like about yourself, and come up empty.
Then, you think of the little people in your care and maybe your husband and you know those little people love you (for some reason.) With that thought, you decide to dry your eyes, splash cold water on your face, fake some joy, and try not to make eye contact with anyone until your red, puff, splotchy face is back to normal.
Self-hatred is a deep, pitch-black hole that pulls you in and refuses to let go, making you feel as though you are so empty, you are literally hollow.
Pain was waiting for me as I entered my teenage years, and decided to stick around a good-long-while. One Saturday afternoon when I was about 14, I was spending time with someone who regularly delivered pain into my life. A verbal blow was struck that wounded me so badly, it took the wind right out of my lungs… and I said nothing.
We kept walking and talking, as if everything was normal. After all, this kind of treatment was simply the norm and what I had grown use to, and must deserve. I remember thinking at that moment that I was meant for nothing. I was worthless.
Life continued like this for years. People would come and go in my life, using my low-self esteem and crippling insecurity to benefit themselves.
In my early twenties, I lived alone, worked and attempted college. At some point, I began going to church. I eventually got saved and baptized.
The first year after my salvation was still quite rocky.
However, I started to notice a change in the way I saw myself. I didn’t have a whole lot of teaching about the truth of who Jesus really is, but what I had began to experience was the way the people at the church treated me.
No one really knew who I was or what my life had been, but they genuinely seemed happy to see me each week. They were kind. They spoke nice things. Those seemingly small, subtle acts of love began to affect me.
Later, I began attending an equipping church, that worked hard to teach me what the Bible says about who I really was. That’s when life got really good.
I was on fire.
My confidence soared, as I showered people with words of affirmation, compliments, acts of service, hugs and smiles (no one was going to feel bad about themselves on my watch.)
Then came marriage, then babies, then more babies and as years passed, the fire began to die and at some point I was back to hating everything about myself.
I would cry myself to sleep at night, wishing I could just be someone else. Someone that deserved my amazing kids. A woman my husband could look forward to come home to. A person who had friends. Someone people liked!
With those thoughts, I land back at the beginning. “I wish I could be someone else.”
Of course, when you are in the middle of the pitch-black, self-hating pit, you can’t see you’re there. All you can see is your OWN pain. So, maybe right this second, you can’t see that you’re there either, I understand. You’re probably saying, “ya, but Shelley, you don’t know me. You don’t understand just how awful I am.” I get it.
When I felt healing beginning to take place in my heart (not that long ago) I wanted to mentally revisit my life during the darkest times to look for things to point blame at.
This is what I found:
I spent a lot of time thinking about how bad I felt. I would think about how no one had text me that day.
When I would consider picking up my phone to check in on a friend, I’d change my mind, because, “she doesn’t want to hear from you, that’s why she’s not texting you!”
If my kids were not treating each other just like I thought they should, I thought I must be failing big-time at training them.
I’d think about all the ways my husband was NOT making me feel loved. I’d think, think, think. All of it about ME, ME, ME.
Television was also a problem.
Yes, Grey’s Anatomy, I’m pointing my finger at you. We don’t have cable or watch TV during the day, so I used it as a way to relax after the kids went to bed. While some can do this and not be affected, I could feel the negative affects.
Although my responsibilities seemed heavy, I felt lazy in my actual life. As though, I didn’t do enough at home for my husband and kids (but didn’t take steps to fix it.)
I didn’t smile much (because showing someone else genuine kindness means taking focus off yourself.) I didn’t make a whole lot of effort outside of my own four walls.
Of course, it’s much clearer now, for me to see these things. Remember you may not even know you’re in a hole, when all you feel is your own pain.
I can say that right now, today, I am full of joy. Real joy, not the fake stuff.
So what changed?
How did I change everything I didn’t like about myself?
If I take the same mental visit to the here and now, or the time early in my salvation when joy was alive in my life, I can see that I was/am focused on other people.
I decided to do something I use to be good at in order to benefit someone outside of my home and outside of myself. I’m still good at it, but when you’re low, you don’t feel good at anything.
Starting this blog, I knew that for the first several months, I wouldn’t be doing much writing (the part I “use” to be good at.)
I would only be figuring out how to do the technical stuff. This was an opportunity to pull my thoughts away from myself!
My husband travels, so every evening once the kids were in bed, I would educate myself. Before long, I was considering how I could use this new knowledge to help others.
Then other things started to happen…
When considering how I could help another mom organize her responsibilities at home (something else I “use” to be good at), I realized that I hadn’t had a good master cleaning schedule in a long time, or an updated chore chart for the kids, or a mommy/child date schedule, or a bunch of other things that I once used to make my life easier. The more the focus came off of myself, the better I felt.
Having something to do that was outside of my own family, that could benefit someone else was taking focus off myself AND it fixed hang-ups in my home at the same time.
The kids and I have started doing a devotional each morning. They’ve always had a bible curriculum, but this is short and sweet and gets us “feeling” all warm and fuzzy before facing the day.
Several doctors appointments have also recently shifted my focus.
My mom died of ovarian cancer, so when my yearly check-ups come around, things get real! This year, my new doctor wanted to run an extra test. Throw in the dermatologist removing a questionable spot on my face and you have a fire storm of fear and sobering thoughts.
The main one being, “am I seriously going to waste another minute wishing I’d have been born with a different personality,? Cuz it’s not gonna happen!”
Yes, you will die someday.
Nothing gives smack-you-on-the-face perspective better than coming face to face with your own MOR-TAL-I-TY!
You change everything about yourself when you stop focusing on yourself. I know it’s hard when you are consumed by your own sadness. You don’t feel like doing anything at all and you think it probably won’t bring any results. Do it anyway. What do you really have to lose?
I can guarantee that there is someone who is feeling as low as you, or worse. They need you and you can’t be there for them because you are wishing they were there for you.