I spent three hours asking a friend’s mother maybe the most awkward of personal questions ever. Even if she said it wasn’t awkward for her, it was frightening as hell for me.
“What would you say to a person that doesn’t feel worthy?”
It was the first time I had allowed myself to ask that. I had never owned up and said it before, and definitely not to someone who didn’t know me well enough to have asked what was wrong. I was getting ready to leave a friend’s house at around 11am, and ended up opening up to the mother instead, about wanting to leave my home and just finish my degree and work wherever I might get some recognition and learn something valuable…
If I could introduce you to my friend’s mother, you’d instantly want to talk to her yourself. She’s light and warm and interested and engaging…she has her own stories and is quite willing to share them, and always keeps repeating the old saying “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” I asked her what made her so strong, and she said “I chose to be strong for me…you choose…”
I asked her if she ever felt like there was a time, when she was at her lowest or most stressed, where she thought that she wasn’t getting the love that she needed or felt she deserved. She didn’t hesitate at first when she said no flatly. Yeah, she felt like her family situation wasn’t grand, but she loved herself. Yeah, she thought that the people that she let into her life would treat her better, but she loved herself. And she had loving people in her life, one of which later on became her husband. She has love, in her children and grandchildren…she’s managed to find her love in times of need and crisis, I think.
And she’s managed to keep that love. She still has it today. She sits with her daughter’s room to talk and joke. She laughs and plays with her youngest son, himself an adult, who kisses her and hugs her and dances around her like he’s still her baby boy. She told herself that she was deserving of love, caring, stability, affection…that she was worthy. And it all came to her, and then some. She told me that all I need to do, as well, is believe that it is there for me and let it come, and to be the person that loves me while I wait.
They are beautiful words to tell to someone who’s hurting for those reasons…if they don’t feel like they have tried that already…
This is not to say that she didn’t help. Just speaking to her raised my spirits, and hearing her say that I am deserving to her and that I could call on her whenever I need help was comforting. And hearing her stories of holding her breath through the hiccups in her own life, and now breathing easily with her life and family was empowering for me. But, now that it’s all said and done, she got that love. When she did, she was around the same age that I am now.
I have three necklaces that I wear, each for different reasons. This week, I wore one with an oval pewter pendant with the words ‘The worth of a thing is the worth that you give it’ in Latin. I wear this one in particular when I feel depressed, lonely or just generally worthless. Because of the worth that I feel other people give me. If everyone seems to ignore me, I am worth ignoring. If everyone seems to take from me and ask of me, then I am worth taking from without giving… It’s not very strong logic, but it is very human to think these sorts of things. And I have, for quite some time.
After speaking to my friend’s mother, some of those feelings are gone. She reminded me that I have a responsibility to make some of that love myself – to be a place that is comfortable and inspiring for me, to relish the moments where I do have that even when they are few, and trust and love the people in my life that I know care and are there for me. She reminded me also to not over-think certain things and trust that some things are the good things that you want and take the hurt if it’s not. But there’s still that love and worth that I desperately want, or as I said to my friend’s mother, “I want to mean something to someone even if I was lying in a bed out cold asleep for days and days.” I don’t want to mean something to someone who knows that I will extend myself for them, or give of myself without asking, or because I am a good conversationalist or because they think I’m intelligent. I want to be loved almost in spite of the things that I do, and instead because of who I am. Because of my thoughts and emotions and needs and wants.
While my friend’s mother has re-taught me to love myself and to create that space for my self-love…there’s still that idea that the worth of this thing is not much…