When I reflect on any decision I’ve made and every motivation behind those decisions, I wonder what it is I really want out of life. I wonder what it is that I am really trying to find- what I deeply long for more than anything else. I think what I want more than anything else is to know that I am loved, that I am enough, that I am worth something.
I couldn’t tell you what this need stemmed from. A few years of learning about child psychology and development and you would think I could pin it on some traumatic event in my past or some failure of my parents during a critical time of my development. However, my parents have only proven their unconditional love for me consistently throughout my whole life. The majority of the messages I have received from people growing up have been positive and encouraging. I have been born into great privilege and I’ve had a near-perfect life.
And yet, I can’t remember a time in my life when everything I did, every decision I made, wasn’t a desperate shout to the world trying to prove that I am worth something, that I matter, that I am lovable. To me, this desperate longing to be worth loving is a need that is just as natural and innate as the need to breathe or eat.
Last year, I served as a RA in a freshman dorm. It radically changed my life for the better, but it also took over my life. My entire identity and self-worth was wrapped up in how I was able to provide for my residents, in how much they loved me, and in how much they needed me. For an entire year I received constant messages that because I was a RA, I was worth something, that I was lovable, that my life meant something. I was addicted to it and I became consumed by it. It became a drug in which I used to numb myself to the reality of my pain, to keep myself from being truly awake. Without even being aware of it, I believed that naturally and inherently I was still worth nothing. In my mind, I was only as valuable as much as I could help people and sacrifice for them- in how much I could “love” them. I didn’t understand at the time that the only love I could offer was shallow, selfish, and unsustainable because I was operating out of the belief that human worth is conditional.
There was no way I was at a place to recognize all of this, much less articulate it, at the time. However, though I loved being a RA, I intuitively felt that there was something very, very wrong and that I was not okay. It was because of this gut feeling and suspicion that I decided not to be a RA for the next year.
This year I’m not a RA. This year I don’t hold any positions of great influence and I don’t have overwhelming responsibilities. It’s slow and it’s quiet. This year I have been suddenly and continuously ripped of anything and everything that I could use to numb myself t and to hide behind.
I still didn’t understand what was wrong with me, but the longer I was forced into quiet and stillness, the more I began to catch glimpses of my True Self, the more I was gently lead to see the Great Lie that I had been buying into my whole life. But I still was not capable of seeing everything. I was still not strong enough and I was still too consumed with fear.
Last year, I met my very best and dearest friend, one of the people I care about most deeply and love most honestly in this entire world. My friendship with her has been the first relationship, outside of my family relationships, where I have felt truly safe to be my 100% authentic, real self, and it is because of this safety that I am able to unconditionally love her in return.
This year she became a RA. I stepped down and she stepped up. This year she has made huge strides and has accomplished so much.
In my insecurity and fear, I resented it.
In my insecurity and fear, I secretly wanted her to fail.
In my insecurity and fear, I secretly didn’t want her to successfully work through and heal from the hurts of her past for fear she might not need me anymore.
I couldn’t see this for what it was for a long time as it quietly and secretly grew and festered in the darkest corners of my soul. I never acted upon these secret demons, but my dear friend could tell something was wrong with me, even when I couldn’t see it, and it was her concern that pointed my attention to the demons.
That night I realized that deep down, in the corners of my soul that I had been refusing to look at for so long, I wanted to cut down and destroy my closest and dearest friend because it would make me feel like I was worth something.
I jolted awake. I opened my eyes.
In a frenzy I tore apart the chains that I hadn’t even realized were tying me down. Once free I tore down walls that I had built in an attempt to hide the darkest parts of myself. With the walls gone, a relentless flood of light illuminated everything, even the things that had never once come out of the darkness. And I saw. I saw with perfect clarity the demons that I had allowed to live and grow inside of me. The demons whose lies I had unknowingly let direct my life, whose lies had insidiously affected every fiber of my being.
The demons, whose very existence was dependent on my inability to acknowledge them, shriveled in the light. What was left, was the voice of the One who had been gently, softly calling my name from the very beginning. The One who gently and lovingly affirmed my True Self.
The next day, I tearfully admitted everything to my friend. She looked at me and said she hated that I ever thought I wasn’t worth loving. We both looked at my demons for a while and the longer we looked at them the smaller they became until they disappeared altogether.
Sometimes I’m honest. I’m honest with myself and I’m honest with others. Sometimes I think that’s all I need to be.