Wednesday, February 19, 2014
If I've had problems with self-acceptance, I've had equal if not greater problems with self-respect. Maybe even to the point of being somewhat bi-polar.
Oh, I don't think I'm manic or anything. I've known manic depressives and I don't fit the profile (yes, I've checked). I think that people in our society, and especially women, are prone to be judged and sentenced by the media and therefore by one another, and fed confusing and often conflicting information. For example, what woman in America hasn't had her driving abilities questioned and often insulted outright, even though women get the lowest auto insurance rates as a collective whole? Furthermore, the group in the higher risk categories are the ones who are doing the judging - go figure. Bet you can't.
I think I have finally accepted that I am a rounded being whose two polar ends insist on being joined to form a circle in a world that would prefer that I lay straight, side by side with everyone else who is possibly being forced to fit the same standard form. Maybe we are all like this, each of us wanting the space and time to form our circle and not being allowed to do so. I just know that whenever I have dared to seek my own "true north"when left to my own devices, sooner or later the needle on my compass brings me back home to myself. I suspect that I'm not nearly as unique in this regard as I once thought I was.
So if I find what I seek in myself, there is within me both a seeker and a sought-after. Two parts of myself. Parts that yearn to connect, to be each other's correct response, each other's ultimate destiny.
I know that one of those parts, the more vulnerable self, needs acceptance and approval, and that the other, the bold adventurer side of me, needs respect. Both go hand in hand, or there is discord. Lots and lots of it.
I think it's here that the potential for self-abuse exists. If we deny ourselves acceptance, our lives become traps from which we are ill equipped to escape. If we deny ourselves respect, there's a good chance that the adventurer will walk out and not come back, living a superficial life with no way to return home. And both, having come up empty and unsatisfied, fill themselves with things that give no relief...
I was an avid adventurer in my younger years, and later lapsed into a depressed captivity as I grew older. Big surprise.
Perhaps that's why marriage has always been such a challenge for me, it being so closely akin to two naked souls rubbing each other raw on a more or less constant basis and never offering or receiving gratification of true needs. If that's my inner dynamic, then it stands to reason that I'd repeat it in my outward life. Marriage just adds another naked soul to the mix who comes with his own set of gifts and limitations, and my two inner combatants haven't been very gracious about sharing space that was already limited and closely contested. This is what a lack of self-respect brings about. For all the drilling I got from my mother about respecting other people, she wasn't real long on treating myself well.
I don't really know where to go with it from here, outside of acknowledging everything that I've put myself through in my battle to balance my need for self-love and acceptance with my need for self-respect. Without the support and encouragement I needed, it was kind of like trying to cross a pond by stepping on lilly pads - lovely in principle or in Disney movies, but not at all practical or effective in real life.
I guess this is why the self that needs respect is outgoing in nature. We all leave home to seek fame and fortune, because chances are that our family isn't going to be all that impressed with anything we manage to accomplish in the basement or garage - they'd rather see us get a 'real job' and move out, get married, make grandchildren for them to spoil.
Furthermore, that other self that craves love and acceptance stays put for the most part. She knows that the only source of it that makes any difference at all is right there at home. She waits by the fire and keeps the faith. She lights the candle in the window and waits for the hunter to return. She raids the refrigerator in the middle of the night when she wakes up to find herself alone. Again.
This is the partnership that needs resolution. The unloved self needs to step outside into the sunshine and do something for fun, just to pass the time and get away from her misery for a while. The disrespected self needs to go home and face the music, like it or not, and do something positive about the situation. That's what respect is all about, after all - recognition for facing dangerous or unpleasant circumstances and taking action. I have been trying, to the best of my abilities, to do these things - to get out of my head and out of my house and join the living, but also to address those issues that I've neglected for too long, no matter what it might be, and make a move to correct them all and not allow myself to either get bogged down or run for the hills.
I can no longer be complacent on the one hand and run from my troubles on the other, just as I can no longer tolerate restrictive diets, death-defying high heeled shoes or people who generate negativity, all healthy signs that my self-respect is growing and thriving and asserting itself.
I find myself wanting to augment it, add to it, control it, but I think maybe I should just allow it to be what it is, and let it work itself out in small increments, negotiating terms of engagement and cementing the relationship between these two selves. I want to remodel their "house", so my practical mind says that it would be simpler and easier to launch yet another dietary attack to force them into conversation over their spartan meals, or another extreme exercise regimen to force them into pained and exhausted mutual compliance.
Then again, that just wouldn't be respectful, would it?