First, realize that what is truly important is that you care about you. The rest will follow. I do not know why you feel as you do. I can only share with you why I felt that way at one time.
I often hear that I am a very strong woman. I am…now. I don’t share this with friends when they comment about my being ‘strong’, but I do not take being a strong woman as a compliment. I simply believe that my strength is simply the glue that holds me together.
You see, 13 years ago, I shattered. Emotionally. I didn’t simply fall apart, I felt that I was broken into so many pieces that I did not believe I could put myself back together. I felt alone, useless, and I came to believe that those I loved would be better off without me,and I actually did not believe I would be missed if I were no longer here.
I went through a 3 year long incredibly nasty divorce battle. It was hard to accept that someone that I had loved, and claimed to love me, had a goal of destroying me financially, and emotionally. Because I asked him to leave.
During my divorce, my ex at one point broke into my house, and slashed every bit of clothing I owned. I slept on the sleeper sofa in my living room for 6 months. I was afraid he would break in while I slept and I would not hear him until it was too late. There were constant threats, insults, and comments of how I meant nothing to him, to our children, and to anyone.
It did not improve after our divorce was final. There were constant threats and insults.
During my divorce, I had a group of friends. We were all going through changes, and we simply would get together and talk. One of this group was a man I felt was a really good friend. We would have lunch, or dinner, talk, laugh, and simply relax for a bit. He too was going through a divorce.
On May 10, 2014, he and I went out to dinner. We had done so many times. We talked about our jobs…about our kids, and how we were each doing. He drove me home, and I invited him in for coffee…as was the routine we had.
We were sitting on the couch talking. My kids were gone for the evening.
All of the sudden he leaned over to kiss me. I was caught off guard. He had never tried that, and I simply leaned back in surprise.
He took that as rejection, and attacked me. He grabbed me by the neck and began yelling at me. I pushed him off and got up to run.
I had long hair, and he grabbed me by my hair. I was pushed up against the wall, and my head was pounded against the wall. I truly saw stars. He began scratching at me, screaming at me for rejecting him the whole time.
He attempted to rape me. I hit him in the nose with the heel of my hand as hard as I could, and then I ran outside and hid. After a couple of minutes he left.
I went back in my house… looked at the bit of blood on the floor from his nose. I then went into my bathroom and climbed into the shower.
It hurt. There was not a part of me that was not in pain.
I got out of the shower… looked in the mirror. I had finger marks that were bruising on my neck, and my chest was covered with fingernail scratches.
After 3 years of dealing with hatred focused at me, and then seeing yet more hatred shown to me in such a way… as I looked at my reflection… my spirit simply shattered.
I believed everything my ex had told me had to be right…otherwise, why would someone feel it was acceptable to harm me in such a way?
I am a very exuberant person… and I simply stopped talking. I stopped laughing. I spent every moment focused on the fact that I was nothing, and that no one could possibly care about me.
I didn’t share with anyone what happened. I had filed a police report, but I did not tell anyone. I wore clothing that covered all of the bruises and scratches so my kids did not see them. They were at camp much of the summer, so I had time to simply withdraw from everyone…and I did.
I went through the motions with my kids, but they sensed the change. They began to distance themselves from me… or so it seemed. In truth, I was pushing them away as well.
I spent over a year destroying myself with the belief that I was nothing, and feeling a rage that I had no clue how to get past.
I prayed at night to not wake up the next day. When I would wake up…I was furious that was did.
A friend of mine…that I had done my best to push away showed up at my door. She had been a friend, but not a close friend. She had moved out of state shortly after I was attacked, and I had not spoken with her since she moved.
She took a look at me… and said, “What in the sam hell did you do to yourself?”
I burst into tears. I told her everything. She cried right along with me.
Then she said, “Darlin’ you can find happiness and peace, but it ain’t gonna be easy.”
I told her I had no idea where to even start.
A week later, she gave me a path to build on. She introduced me to Martha.
Martha was 78 and had alzheimer’s. Martha’s son had promised her that he would make sure she stayed in her home.
Martha needed help. Her son was too embarrassed to bathe her, so she only got a bath every couple of weeks when he could get someone to come give her a bath. Her house was clean, but every surface was covered with stuff….books, records, figurines, etc.
My friend looked at me and said…Martha needs you, and you need her.
She was right.
I couldn’t help myself right then, but I could help Martha. I informed her son that I was going to take care of his mom. I didn’t really give him a say in the matter.
I was doing work that I could do from home, and often did,so I simply set up a work space and worked while I was with Martha.
I bathed her, cooked for her, and spent time with her. I organized her house to minimize the clutter to make her feel more secure.
When Martha struggled with memories and felt afraid and lost, I sat next to her and held her hand…even when she was not sure who I was. I listened to her stories, and watched Elvis Presley movies with her over and over again. (She was a huge Elvis fan.)
You see…I could not accept anyone could care for me, but Martha allowed me to see that she accepted me without any expectations. I could not see anything in myself to care about, but I could accept the relationship I was building with this amazing woman.
I moved my focus away from me. I didn’t let myself dwell on my feelings of worthlessness when I was with her…because with her, I was not worthless. I mattered to her.
I began my own therapy. I found I could begin to see I did have value.
I reached a point that I had to make a conscious choice. I could either keep myself closed and isolated, or I could stop focusing on how I felt, and open my heart and let myself care about others, regardless of their ability to care about me.
I found that the secret for me was that when I simply accepted other people and let myself care about them without expecting anything from them, that they began to treat me in the manner that I was treating them.
I also learned that people care in different ways, and they showed it in different ways. In order for me to find what I need, I had to learn how to show people that I could give to them what I needed for myself.
People will let you down. Some will do so because of their selfishness. Most will let you down because they simply don’t know what you need. They do not mean harm, they are simply not aware.
I went through the motions and acted like I cared about me, until I was actually able to care about me.
I told myself something good I had done each day, until I believed in myself again.
I also found that people I thought would be there, were not. However, people I did not consider particularly close, were the ones that were there.
This is a long story to tell you…. find a way to care about you. Find a way to open your heart without restrictions, and you will find that others care. You cannot see it now, but there are people that care.
My friend was right. I found happiness and peace… but lord it was anything but easy.
I wish you all the happiness in the world. You matter.