|Me with my parents - 1976 - body language says it all|
This post is inspired by a recent post of a fellow blogger, the Travel Penguin.
The question "do you like yourself" is a question most of us have faced at one time in our life. Now I'm not a psychologist or a learned scholar but I do know who I am.
Early in my life I was brought up with little sense of self worth. I didn't know the difference because that was the only reality I only knew.
Later on in life I realized that my father didn't want children. We were a bother to him. He left the rearing of me and my two younger brothers to my Mother. Thankfully my Mother cared for us but she was not a demonstrative Mother who hugged us or told us she loved us. But she did. I attribute that to her awful childhood where she lost her Mother before she was two years old. But she did take care of us.
I've written about this subject before so pardon me regular followers of my blog if I repeat myself.
About ten years ago I came across some of my grade school report cards. My grades were mostly B's with a scattering of A's and an occasional C. On the back, where my characteristics were listed as either Acceptable or Unacceptable, I noted with some surprise the one area which was always Unacceptable - Self Confidence. Gee, no wonder. After being constantly mocked by my father as having a big nose, being stupid, and an embarrassment to him, no wonder I lacked self-confidence. But understand I didn't know the difference at that time, I thought all that was true. It was the only reality I knew. Thank goodness he didn't physically or sexually abuse me but mentally? Big time. Being constantly put down from my earliest memory how could I not have a low self-esteem? But at least I had a father. Bill lost his father to a drunk driving accident when he was ten years old. Pat's father died (alcoholic) when Pat was ten years old. I had a father, even if he was indifferent at best to me and psychologically abusive to me at worst.
Not until I left home when I joined the Army at eighteen years old did I begin to realize that I wasn't a total loser. This realization didn't happen overnight but eventually I came to realize I had some worth, something to offer to our communal society. Of course there were times during my journey into adulthood and self awareness that some people tried to belittle me and put me down. The reasons varied from jealousy to just plain ignorance, cruelty and bullying. Who of us hasn't been subjected to the same?
A few years ago I was watching one of those old VHS videos of me having dinner with a friend of mine. I was secretly videotaping him as a joke to be shown to him later. We were both very relaxed and just being ourselves. Watching that video I discovered a few things that surprised me. One sort of shocked me. That was the realization that I had many of my father's physical mannerisms. Oh God! That was a surprise. I was turning into my father. The other thing that I noticed while looking at myself interacting with my friend Ed, was that I seemed like a nice guy. Someone I would want to know and feel comfortable with if I was someone else. That was also a surprise. Then I thought back of all those years which I hated the body I was in. I hated the sound of my voice. I hated my big nose and small chin. I hated being tall. I hated that I wasn't an athlete. There was so much I hated about myself. I felt sad thinking about this because I couldn't think of anything I liked about my self. That is what happens when a constant mental abuse is heaped on a child. What a shame, all those years wasted. I've often wondered what my life would have been liked if I grew up with a sense of self-worth. And I can't blame my Mother because she didn't have a sense of self-worth either so that's why she couldn't pass it on to her sons. But she did protect us and made sure we were cared for.
These days, now that I am older and wiser, I like who I am. In fact, I wouldn't trade myself for anyone else on this planet. I like myself just the way I am. Imperfections and all.
Oh sure, I still encounter people who don't like me. I know it is a cliche to say this but that is their problem because I'm a pretty nice guy. I don't waste my precious time concerning myself about why those people don't like me.
One of the many benefits of old age, things I used to think were important I find aren't important. What is important is that I like myself and that I have true friends and they like me.
That's my sermon for the day folks!