Thursday, October 24, 2013

I Do Part 2: Appreciation. It's What I Need

I just want to be appreciated.

That's all.

And loved. And protected. And cared for. And accepted.

But mostly appreciated.

I told my family a few nights ago, after they had all put their dishes into the sink (but not into the empty dishwasher, which is a major pet peeve of mine) that I was no longer their maid-in-waiting. I told them that I wanted to support them, help them, drive them where they needed to be, manage the household for them, keep schedules straight, things organized--but not do for them the things they can do on their own (i.e. doing their dishes for them).

And they agreed. Yes! Mom should not be wiping our bottoms for us!

And then what do you know. Dishes. Sink. Dishwasher. Empty. So what I said was this, but what they heard was Charlie Brown's version of an adult speaking: whaaa whaa whaaa wha wha.

This does not make a girl feel very appreciated, just so you know.

I think my dad may have had somewhat of a hard time knowing exactly how to appreciate the females in his life. I'm not saying he didn't, I just don't think he knew how. This sort of appreciation from a father to a daughter is so so so important, and when it's missed, it's missed in a big kind of way, so I did what came naturally to me: looked for 'appreciation' elsewhere (i.e. BOYS, who, by the way, don't always know how to appreciate a girl, so when you mix that with a girl who will take 'appreciation' in any form she can, you have a recipe for DISASTER). I wanted to be loved, appreciated, protected and cared for. I really did. I just didn't know exactly what I was looking for, or when to have the courage to say no. Because if I said no, then maybe that boy wouldn't like me anymore. And if that boy didn't like me anymore, then I wouldn't feel appreciated.

Bad idea. Except no one actually sat down and said to me 'Hey. This is a bad idea.'

Boys were not the only place I looked for my cup of self-worth to be filled. I also looked to fashion magazines, TV, movies, advertisements, friends who would tell me I was pretty--anything that represented what I wanted to be, and it was the furthest thing from what I actually was. I was just a girl, looking for a little self-worth, with a little appreciation thrown in on the side. What I got was a low self-esteem, a lower perception of my own self-worth, and a gaping hole in my heart that continued to grow wider with every passing year that it wasn't filled.

When I finally met my husband at the tender age of twenty, I think I covered my insecurities up fairly well, but I was hiding an insecure thirteen-year-old girl in my heart who desperately needed to be told she was lovely inside and out. I had spent most of my teen years as a beggar of sorts: constantly outstretched hand, asking for money in the form of compliments and affirmation, but my cup had an endless bottom. Like pennies in a wishing well, those compliments just disappeared out of sight, and I was once again left feeling empty. But a husband, well, he's supposed to pick up where everyone else left off, right? He's supposed to fill in all those gaps, those voids, those empty spaces.

When you put that much pressure on anyone, friend, husband, enemy--well, it just doesn't work. It's too much. That person can never and will never be able to fill the wishing well,  no matter how many compliments they pay. And at some point, it's almost like paying a toll: the compliments, no matter how sincere, don't mean much anymore. It's a way to get past the toll booth. To move on.

I know my husband wished I had more self-confidence, that I didn't feel the need to exercise and try fad diets to stay skinny, that I wouldn't compare myself to every model I saw in the magazine. He told me time and time again that yes, he thought I was beautiful. Yes, he loved me. Yes, he cared for me.

But I demanded more. I needed more than he could give.

A friend asked me today how I got over my insecurities and self-worth issues. And I told her I'm not sure that 'getting over them' is the exact phrase I would use, as I am wont to hide them in my heart and play the part of a person whose problems have been solved. I still deal with insecurity. I still wonder if people like me and if my husband thinks I'm beautiful. I told her that I really had to come to the end of myself, to discover that nothing else in the world was working. Not exercise. Not beauty treatments. Not compliments. Not perfection. Nothing. And what I discovered when there was nothing was that God was waiting patiently for me to turn away from all the distractions and look toward Him. He wasn't loud or obnoxious about it, and if I hadn't turned toward Him, I know He would still be patiently waiting. But I did, and I found out through various bible studies (message me if you'd like to know some of the ones I've done) that I needed to take all that pressure I'd been putting on my husband and friends and place it on His strong and very capable shoulders. What is too much for a person isn't too much for God, and I've been striving to do just that since He met me in that miserable place of depression, anxiety and insecurity several years ago.

But it's a daily, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute choice to look to Him instead of to all that I can see in this world. Some days I feel like I've got that bull by the horns, and others...well, other days I don't feel quite so cocky. I make mistakes. I obsess over the number of calories I've eaten and how much I've exercised, and sometimes I feel like I've taken one step forward and three steps back. But the confidence I have now is that my God is holding me by my hand, tightly, and He will never let me go. Which leaves me to enjoy a relationship with my husband and friends that doesn't depend on them to make me feel better about who I am, because now I know who I am.

A child of God.

Accepted. Protected. Cared for. Loved.

Appreciated.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,
he is a new creation.
The old has passed away;
behold, the new has come.
{2 Corinthians 5:17}

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