The Healing Power of Self
You look beautiful.”
I say this to my thirteen year old then watch her shoulders slack forward as if hiding her budding breasts. She’s wearing a dress for the first time in forever. Her legs are exposed from the mid-thigh down. She turns her legs in and tries to cover one shamefully with the other. Her long brown hair is thick and lustrous, hanging well past her waist. Most girls would kill for that hair. Her skin complexion has sustained some abuse as the pimples set in with puberty, but the sun is already clearing them up nicely. By sixteen, her skin will be as clear and as clean as her eight year old sister’s. She has an excellent sense of humor and a sharp mind that matches her wit. More times than not, she has my husband and I rolling with laughter.
She’s tall at 5’2’’ and still growing. Based on her shoe size, I predict she’ll be nearly 5’6” before she stops growing. At 18, she’ll be stunning. But all she can see are the pimples. The rest, she ignores and takes great shame in.
She has never read a magazine flaunting the lies of The Beauty Myth. No catalogues are in our home selling beauty products. She doesn’t watch television or commercials. We don’t even have cable hooked up. I wear no makeup and am careful to discourage the shallow vanity too often nurtured by some. No phone, no social media, no electronics, no internet access. Only my parenting and exposure to 7th grade girls. So why does my daughter hate herself? Where does this self-loathing come from?
I watched my mother age with the self-loathing she hoarded for thirty years. Today, it’s worse than ever. I have been diagnosed with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), which by its very definition means a distorted value/view of one’s self.
With therapy, and awareness of my diagnoses, I have been made aware of a mentality that has infiltrated our society. Infecting us like a disease, it spreads from generation to generation, yet goes unchecked. We have groups today that scream about domestic violence awareness. Groups that scream about child abuse, spousal abuse, and elderly abuse. But what about self abuse? It’s such an usual phrase that my word program doesn’t even acknowledge it as grammatically correct.
Recently, my husband came to me with, what I thought, was a boast. I viewed his occasional strokes of ego as arrogance and brought this concern to his attention. He took this report back to his therapist for evaluation. The response we both received was astounding. Society has too strongly deemed the slightest acknowledgement of honor or self-pride with derogatory terms such as arrogance, braggart, boast. In the United States, we are ethically discouraged to acknowledge our one achievements, and to do so earns you a negative reputation and a slanderous label.
Compliments are difficult to accept. Self-image is a constant battle in adolescents. Most adults feel uncertain, insecure, easily threatened, and many grossly lack the confidence to take pride in any of their accomplishments. Still, this epidemic goes unchecked.
I’m asking why. For my daughter’s sake, I’m screaming as loud as I can, “Stop it!” There is nothing wrong with ego! Honor, pride, and verbally acknowledging one’s achievements should be the norm. I’m lost in what to say. I’m shaking my head at the bottom of the human ego while we bury our honor and pride deeper. I can’t help but wonder, where will this end? More importantly, how do we begin to reverse it?
It is with this in mind, that I am building an anthology: The Healing Power of Self: A collection of stories to inspire ego, and nurture a healthy self-image in which to build confidence. There is no word limit. I am looking for a number of memoirs and articles in the hopes to raise awareness and start taking care of our minds. Write something, anything that reveals your own experience(s), findings, beliefs, and thoughts on this topic. Help me raise awareness and end this for our children’s mental health.
If you would like to contribute to this anthology, please fill out the form below. If you know someone who you think would be interested in contributing their share of written word to this topic, please, pass this on to them.
[contact-form-7 id=”13319″ title=”Self-Abuse Anthology”]