I am learning that I will never change my behaviors until I change the way I think. Like others in my program, I suffer from self-hatred and have engaged in self-destructive behaviors. If I am going to be fully healthy and capable of positive decision-making, I need to love myself.
I have hated myself for a long time - maybe my entire life. Those feelings didn't happen by accident. I was rejected by my parents as a child, dominated by a demeaning father and jealous husband as a young woman, and betrayed by trusted friends as a mature woman who should know better. Those people failed me, and they are horrible people. I am working my way to forgiveness for their bad behavior, and will eventually be ready to ask forgiveness for my own bad behavior. Still, especially at this point, allowing them to dominate and dictate my own feelings of self-worth is a choice I have continued to make.
Loving myself might be simple.
It may be just as simple as acknowledging that I love myself, and then repeating that all day long every day.
Maybe it's partly about fully engaging in my treatment program - both the group and individual sessions and the homework, and seeing myself as valuable and worth saving.
It could be that I just need to meditate on the Word. God tells us all the time how much he loves us.
I'm not exactly sure how I'll get there yet, but I will. I know I can do it. I know it because Psalm 17:8 says I am the apple of my Father's eye. And today I read this:
Because Jesus Christ redeemed me I am a new creation of infinite worth. I am deeply loved. I am completely forgiven. I am fully pleasing. I am totally accepted by God. I am absolutely complete in Christ.I don't have to follow any list of rules for Christ to love me - or to love myself. I don't have to be "better" or perfect or even not failing. I don't have to do anything. I can and SHOULD be myself. I am fully pleasing!
The people I have allowed in my inner sanctum concur. My auntie told me how excited she was after I saw her at Rotary the other day: "When you smiled, I felt so excited. You're back! We have Kari back!" My sister has been a Godsend too; she is excited for recovery and wants to revel in the joy of her family - me - again. My best friend tells me every day that he can see how different I am: "I am so proud of you for the direction your life is moving, and being able to witness it firsthand." And my undefined friend (hahahaha) tells me I matter, that he can see how happy I am, and that he loves my spirit.
Strangers are even excited for me. Someday I'm going to write about this phase in my life and I'll be able to talk about the investors. It's enough for now to say that people believe in me, trust that I am about to be massively successful, and are all-in for the ride.
Boggles the mind.
No one has ever said with such conviction, I believe in you.
And you know? I treasure every person who is standing here beside me.
I treasure this journey of self-discovery, painful as it is and as laden as it is with confronting difficult emotions and the reality of the things I have done and failed to do.
And most, I treasure that I am able to make myself a priority and a project. I have never failed a project, and I'm not about to fail this one.
My husband doesn't like it. He thinks I am writing about him. I am not. I am writing, as I always have, about my journey. As someone who was a part of my life for twenty-seven years, who helped shape the person I became, and who threw me away at my weakest moment, he ought to recognize my right to heal. And, I guess if he doesn't, too bad for him. This is my story to tell, and I have the right to tell it.
My husband betrayed the secrets of my heart. He forwarded intimate pictures of me to his lovers, one of whom published them on the internet. He mocked me and shamed me to my friends and family, including my sons. He bruised my body, my spirit, and my mind. He lied to law enforcement about me and told my sons he would rectify those lies; he has not. He lied to the state of Minnesota about me. He re-wrote the entire history of us to make me appear monstrous, feeble-minded, and solely responsible for the demise of a good marriage.
I don't accept any of that.
And maybe that is how I learn to love and respect myself. Maybe it is in the revelation of the secrets that hide sin. Maybe it is in the rejection of his portrayal of me. Maybe it is in the freedom to finally tell my story.
I am renewing my body, my spirit, and my mind.
It feels good.