Monday, August 5, 2013

Gratitude From 'Self-Worth'

To share ones life, even a part of it, takes a vulnerability that I don’t often possess. My story is one of many in this world, yet there is a universality in it that allows people to connect to it. Opening up and sharing the struggles and joys of my life with others, then hearing from them how they recognize themselves is something that I hadn’t anticipated. It's more than I could have asked for.  

None of us are alone. There is common ground. Honest sharing starts a dialogue where people can discuss how they feel, what they’ve been through, what they’re currently experiencing. I feel blessed to have found a voice and a platform for sharing mine.

To say that I was overwhelmed by the response to my latest HuffPo Gay Voices blog post, "How Do You Find Self-Worth When You Don't Like Yourself" is an understatement. The piece resonated with so many people from all walks of life proving that we're all human beings and that feelings of unworthiness are not unique to one's gender, sexual orientation, or position in life. I was unprepared for the number of people from all over the country, and other parts of the world, that reached out to thank me, tell me I'd written their story, tell me what they did to find self-worth. 

Many told me I was brave and courageous for sharing this story. I’m thankful for those comments. I appreciate them along with all those who chose to share their similar stories with me. Those who reached out on twitter and Facebook. Those who gave generous positive feedback. Words are powerful. I have found bravery in bearing my soul so honestly. Sometimes facing the scariest thing can be the most rewarding. 

Positive comments are like beautiful flowers in the garden of life, but as everyone knows, any beautiful garden can be infested by weeds. The trick is to not let them strangle the beauty and mar the landscape. The positive comments I received from the above mentioned blog created a diverse flower bed full of engaging thoughts, interesting advice, and pearls of wisdom, but there were weeds mixed in. Sometimes they weren’t easy to see at first -- hiding; buried between beautiful gems of flourishing positivity. In an open forum where people hide behind keyboards and animated avatars with all the courage in the world to say something negative, these “weeds” are to be expected. My favorites from the current blog include: “Quit feeling sorry for yourself,” “Sounds like someone needs more sunshine and fresh air in their life,” “Self-absorption is a turn off,” “Very often low self esteem is well earned.” My personal favorite had the word "vapid" in it, but because I refuse to give credence to such out and out meanness I won’t quote the entire remark.  

It took me a few days to read the comments. I wanted to read them, but was afraid of the negativity. I thought any negative reaction to my soul-bearing blog post might feed into my feelings of unworthiness or undesirability, but I wanted to see the flowers. I found the courage to read them and, with the help of a coworker, not take the negative ones too seriously. The piece I wrote was important to me. I wanted to interact with those who were so positive in their responses. I wanted to acknowledge those who gave good advice. Doing so was a step in the right direction for me. I was able to draw strength from all of you. The above mentioned “weedy” statements became humorous to me instead of depressing. I allowed myself to think about what was said, then question it’s truth and validity. In spite of the weeds I was still able to see the flowers. I was able to allow the good and the bad to coexist and not get bogged down by the bad. 

Listen, I'm thankful every morning that I wake up to another day. There will always be challenges to face, but there will also be victories to celebrate. I'm working on being kinder to myself and my therapist can attest to that. Look. That’s me planting a few flowers in the garden. I’m still going to find weeds in there. Even weeds that I plant myself, but I’m figuring out how to not let those weeds dictate how I view the garden as a whole.

To those of you who said my story is your story I say, "Thank you for helping me see that none of us are alone." Plant the seed of positivity and watch what happens. The effect is beautiful and can change what you see and how you see it. Weeds will always be there. We just have to keep them from choking the vibrant garden that is life.

The journey continues.