I am a 25 year old woman and I suffer from low self-esteem. I’m writing this MyTake to share my experience and how I’m making steady, positive changes. I hope to reshape my way of thinking and also to help others.
I have recently been diagnosed with GAD and currently receiving medication and counselling. The diagnosis has been a relief and the medication is helping but this is only temporary. The real work comes down to YOU.
Anyway, I’m going to talk about my low self-esteem and how it’s manifested in my current relationship with my boyfriend of 4 months and how I intend to kick its ass.
It’s important to note you’re SO is not responsible for your happiness. You are. My low self-esteem is fluid; 95% I’m happy and relaxed around my boyfriend. Cliché as it sounds, but he’s completely different to other guys I’ve dated as he’s battled his own (and worse) demons in the past.
This is a guy who understands mental health and how shit it can be, but of course, everyone has their limits.
I can be having a perfectly good day with my boyfriend and my mood can change dramatically. All it takes is certain words or if he’s not acting in a way I expect i.e. anticipating a hug or a kiss, or if I think he’s not affectionate enough … everything goes downhill from there.
Things came to a head last month. I’ll start from the beginning: I arrived at his apartment after finishing work in good spirits, with visions of us whiling away the evening with a good film and the standard Friday night beverages. Unfortunately, my boyfriend had had a hard day at work and was feeling particularly grumpy (side note: he’s never directed his moodiness at me and always apologizes for his behavior.) but he brightened up because I was there with him.
Nevertheless, he wasn’t behaving in the way I was expecting in my mind. I expected him to be more affectionate. I expected him to be more positive. With these poisonous, negative thoughts suddenly flowing through my mind, I automatically wanted to be alone. So I went out for a cigarette by myself to compose myself. My boyfriend thought this behavior was odd, as normally smoke together but he shrugged it off.
By this point, my mood had sank considerably and my thoughts became darker. I looked and felt thoroughly depressed. I felt worthless, but I kept the true reasons to myself and blamed my sudden mood change on tiredness and stress with family issues.
So we went to bed and curled up. He cuddled me as usual, but even this didn’t stop my thoughts. I felt ashamed at myself for feeling this way and my thoughts were out of control. I felt close to tears.
By morning, I couldn’t even summon the energy to get out bed as I felt so down but I knew it wasn’t fair for my boyfriend to see me like this. So I explained that I was feeling emotionally fragile; I was worried about my Grandfather going through chemo and because I was behaving like this, I felt like I was wasn’t good enough for him.
My boyfriend listened and gave me a hug. As per usual, this hasn’t been the first time where I’ve voiced that I feel like I’m not good enough and he told me firmly that this was the happiest he’d felt in a relationship. I promised that my mood would change for the rest of the day and it did. He gave me the reassurance I needed. A part of me felt bad that he had to give me that reassurance - was I being too much of a burden?!
The second incident of when my self-esteem reared its ugly head was on a Sunday night. It was over something so ridiculous and the conversation which followed has given me a huge wake up call.
We’d enjoyed a wonderful day together and we were settling down to bed to watch a film. And what triggered my negative thoughts?! … He didn’t put his arm around me properly. Utterly ridiculous right?
I cringe now as I type this. I sat up and moved away, hoping he would move his arm but he ended up unconsciously folding it across his chest. He asked me if there was anything the matter, but I didn’t say anything because I was thinking so hard on what to say. Namely, I was too embarrassed to admit the true reason.
I lifted his arm and we lay for a while but to me, it felt forced. I felt that he should have been the one to initiate the cuddle. When these thoughts crept up, I sat up again and got a drink.
By this point, he was getting increasingly annoyed and I knew I’d messed things up. So I told him. I’ve explained already that he’s dealt with a few moments of insecurity similar to this, but unsurprisingly, this was the worst. I apologised profusely for my behaviour but he said that the apologies were beginning to sound empty which I can understand.
For the second time that weekend, I said that I felt like I wasn’t good enough and nobody should have to deal with this craziness. I knew that I’d acted ridiculously, especially for my insecurities. My boyfriend agreed that it would be too much to handle if this was a frequent occurrence (he expected it to maybe happen a few more times).
For what kind of relationship would that be? He also said that his own previous mental troubles in the past would be triggered and that he wouldn’t be able to deal.
However, he expressed that he would go to great lengths for our relationship and that this was one of the happiest he’d been in but I solely agreed that this display of my insecurities was one of my most extreme and nobody should have to deal with it.
So what did we do next? Well luckily, we both move on very quickly from moments like these. We both had Monday off, and I woke up the next morning determined to make some fucking serious changes in my way of thinking. I know my boyfriend is a good’un, and I’m not going to ruin what is turning into one of my best relationships. I don’t want to bring drama to the relationship.
We had an amazing Monday, and whenever I felt my negative, insecure thoughts resurfacing, I would combat them with rational explanations and long deep breaths to calm myself. I would tell myself sternly I was being ridiculous and that my boyfriend suddenly does not love me less.
Has this worked? Yes. I am happy and relaxed, and I can see this reflected on him too. The therapy has given me useful tips to view myself in a more positive light, but to be honest, I did this myself after that conversation my boyfriend and I had.
I’m proud that I am slowly retraining my thoughts and seeing the results. I’m still completing the journey, but I’m on the right path.
If you can relate to this MyTake and it has helped in some way, then I’m glad. We are all deserving of love and we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves. It’s just a question of seeing it ourselves and the journey to getting there.