I grew up in a home with an alcoholic father who used to tell me every single day that I am a piece of sh* and I will fail in life, grandparent who used to tell me nobody will ever love me, and a mother who would pass condescending remarks about my looks. I spent year defying their words, in words and in action, not believing them and being filled with anger and feeling of injustice that they talked to me like this. Now my mother constantly tells me how pretty I am, I have managed to get to a place in life that has always been my goal. But with every year my self-esteem is spiraling downwards, the voices that say I will fail and I amount to nothing are haunting me but I can’t find the grit from my teen years to shut them up. I don’t understand, I went through the worst full of pride and feeling of self worth despite all the nasty words and experiences and now I’m where I wanted to be and I’m crumbling under the weight of self-loathing and anxiety. I have visited therapists and can more or less manage and get out of episodes of depression and anxiety (although it takes at least a couple of weeks each time), but they keep coming back and every time another piece of my self-esteem is chipped away for good. Why was I stronger then?Why Is My Self-Esteem Lower Now that the People Who Used to Put Me Down Are No Longer Around?
Why Is My Self-Esteem Lower Now that the People Who Used to Put Me Down Are No Longer Around?
It’s not so much that you were stronger then, it’s just that your mission was clear. You wanted to become the opposite of what they declared your were. I admire the grit you’ve shown — as well as the courage and persistence in correcting the issues from your family of origin. But now it’s time for a different strategy. We can only move away from something for so long before we have to start moving toward something. You have clearly demonstrated that you can be different than what your family told you, but being opposite only identifies you as not what they thought you were. It does not help define your authentic self.
It is time for you to figure out who you are and who you want to be independent of this push from your family of origin. This requires two things. The first is to find a support network to help you with this. Friends are a good place to start, but from a therapeutic point of you may find group therapy a next natural step. In group you’ll have people who will both support and challenge you in fostering your growth.
The second thing is choosing a goal that is not simply different than what your family told you. Find some part of yourself that needs to flourish and grow — and nurture that. Take some time to sample. Figuring out who you are, not just who you’re not, is the work in front of you.