By Megan Wirts
Sometimes I encounter people who seem to treat me differently because I have a disability or because I'm a woman, a mother, from a small town, etc. Their words, tone and actions can get to me. I start to over-analyze and overthink every interaction, every word said and every facial expression. Then I get in my own head and begin to believe all the negativity I was feeling was something I deserved. I start to berate myself and go down this spiral of shame, insecurity and disappointment.
"Why did you say that out loud? What were you thinking? You were bragging too much and trying to show off again. Why can't you just shut your mouth!? Nobody even cares about you."
That's where my brain goes on the worst days. Not as often as it used to but it still happens. I learned, with the help of a good dose of therapy, to actively push those negative thoughts out and replace them with positive ones, I feel more confident and happy in my life.
However, there are those nights that I find myself swirling down the drain of negativity.
When I find myself circling that drain, I need to talk about it. I need a good friend, a therapist, my husband or anyone that will listen and not judge me. Usually by the time we are done talking, I have worked out my problem myself and all I needed was an ear. Then I need to look in the mirror and remind myself that yes, I am a woman! A mother! A person with a disability from a small town that is deserving of respect, kindness, friendship, opportunities and greatness! I have to remember that not everyone is going to like me, and that's ok. I don't like everyone, but it doesn't mean I am allowed to treat them like garbage when I'm around them. "Kill them with kindness", right?
It has taken me years to feel confident in my abilities, my body, my own thoughts and opinions. I still struggle on occasion. Growing up, I was often bullied and felt I was not always given equal treatment at home because I was a girl.
So I left home after graduation at age 17 as a terrified little girl with no self confidence. I was incredibly naive. I clung to people that I thought were smarter, prettier and better than me. I believed everything they said, especially if it was something negative about me.
“You’re too chubby”, “Your arms are too fat” or, ”You’re just not interesting at all.”
And that all came from my "best friend" at the time. I finally let her go when I became a mother and I looked at my sweet baby girl and realized that I never wanted her to hear words like that from someone that was supposed to be her friend.
Those words still echo in my head every now and then. Words from people that I loved and admired and were supposed to love me back stung me the deepest and stayed with me the longest. Those words eventually became my own internal monologue. I'm here to tell you that you have the power inside of you to change those words. You have the ability to turn your inner monologue into one that is empowering instead of oppressive. For me, I think this will be a lifelong process. This cycle of overthinking, negative self talk and then finally finding my footing again isn't going to happen over night and it's not just "think positive" or "just be happy". It's hard work, being patient with yourself and in my experience there is also a lot of crying.
Over the years, I have learned to not rely so desperately on what others think of me and instead to love who I am, completely. Even when feeling moody, judgemental or just plain old bitchy, I am not those things. I will make mistakes, but I have learned to forgive. I am not nor will I ever be perfect. I am human. I am worthy.
We are all worthy of love and kindness from others as well as ourselves.
Knowing this frees us up to not just accept and embrace love and kindness when it comes our way,it also enhances our ability to express these to others.
We just need to love ourselves enough.
Not always easy, but definitely doable.
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