Tag Archives: self esteem

Living For Myself

illusionSometimes it is hard to tell when you are living according to your own dreams or when you’re living for your own dreams.  For years, I allowed the opinions of others to be more important than my own.  What other people thought of me was more important than what I thought of myself.  This was an enormous mistake.

Of course other people are always going to try to impose their will and expect you to live according to their expectations.  I was a shy and insecure child, who turned into an insecure teenager.  I had low self-esteem and I always looked to others to for approval.  I also had a habit of surrounding myself with people who needed to put other people down to make themselves feel more important.  So, myself esteem was really in the toilet.

Living like this almost destroyed me.  I weighed 315 pounds at my heaviest and my body was really suffering the effects of long-term morbid obesity.

Fortunately, I realized my life was going in the wrong direction.  I cut out of my life the people whose vision of who I am did not match up with who I thought I was.  I stopped associating with and seeking the approval of anyone who had to try to make me feel bad to make themselves feel superior.  I started befriending people who treated me with the respect I deserve.

In some cases, the end of a friendship was mutual.  In other cases, I was not able to cut a person out completely, either because they are married to  a friend or family member, or closely connected with one of my groups of friends.  The difference between now and before, I know who I am and how I feel about myself.  I can keep their negativity in perspective and give their opinions no consideration whatsoever.  In short, I do not listen to them or allow them to affect my own self image.  What they think of me or how they treat me says more about them than me, in my opinion.

None of this was easy.  It is never easy to end long-time friendships, or distance yourself from people you care about.  I learned that I had to care about myself more and that if they cared about me at all, they would have to learn to accept the new me on my terms.  Some of them, I’m happy to say did. Others did not.  Those friendships have either gone by the way side, or I only associate with them on special occasions.

Once I made the decision to care about my own opinion over the opinion of others, I was able to make choices that helped me improve my life.  I feel and look better than I have in years.  I am happy.  And for the most part, I feel I am making better choices.  I’m not all the way there yet.   But when I look back at where I’ve been and realize how far I’ve come, I know I can get there.

beforeselfie2

Advertisements

Am I Enough?

Last night I had a very long conversation with one of my gamer friends about why I stopped gaming.  He was calling BS on the fact that gaming is a problem for me.  Mostly because he would like me to really get into Guild Wars 2.

We had a great gaming-social network back in our WoW days and I think he wants to try to re-create that in GW2.  He misses the camaraderie of our group.  We played pvp (player vs. player) battles.  Our faction, the Alliance, battled against players who made up the other faction, the Horde.  Our group extended beyond our Alliance team.  We were also friends with many of the people who played Horde characters.  We talked back and forth on the message boards and we joined each others vent chats.  (pre-Skype voice chat program).  We had a lot of fun.

He misses that, and frankly I do too.  I just cannot bring myself to game right now.  I may never again, at least not at the same level I did before.

He is a recovering alcoholic and has been doing the 12-step thing for about 15 years or so.  And I have talked about my battle with food on this blog as if it was an addiction.  I feel that for me, it is.  He wanted to understand how I felt gaming was part of the problem.

He thought I was blaming WoW for making me fat, which is what he was calling BS.  I was not and I do not blame World of Warcraft for my obesity.  I was fat before I started gaming.  I have only myself to blame for that situation, (my mother will be greatly relieved to hear that).

Here is my problem with gaming: avoidance.  While playing games, I ignored all of my other problems.  I allowed the game to consume all of my time so that I didn’t have to deal with my life falling apart around me.  I did not want to deal with my financial problems or my health problems, so I immersed myself in an imaginary world where my characters were powerful, capable, and financially solvent.

Gaming didn’t stop my other problems from getting out of control and taking over my life.  Gaming didn’t make my real life any better.  Just like binge eating didn’t solve anything.  My problems only got worse because I was not dealing with them.  In the end, I had to face my problems, both health and financial.  I had no choice.  I had to reign in my finances or risk losing everything I have.  I had to deal with my health or start preparing to die.

I was explaining this to my gamer friend when he asked me, “So what changed?  Why make these changes now?  Why, all of a sudden, are you enough?  What do you see now in yourself worth living for that you didn’t before?”

Those are hard questions, and I struggled to find an answer.  I imagine that these are questions he had to find answers for during his own recovery from addiction.

I am not sure if I have a complete answer for this or not, but I simply just decided that if I did not want to die, I had to find a way to live.  To quote Stephen King’s Shawshank Redemption, “It comes down to a simple choice.  Get busy living or get busy dying.”

I may not have thought I was enough of a reason, or good enough period, but I knew that was something that I needed to work on.  And I did.  I wouldn’t say I’m completely cured of low self-esteem, food addiction, avoidance, etc.  I struggle every day with all of my problems, but each day does get easier.

Once I started working on my problems, I was amazed at the number of people who were willing to help me, who cheered me on, who were so supportive in so many ways.  My sister encouraged me through the whole process and took me into her home for a month.  My mom helped me financially and came down to Virginia for the surgery.  My niece, who may not understand all of the changes I have made, totally loves it that I can go to museums with her and walk all over DC and go to fairs with her.  My brother and his wife are really happy to see how much I have improved.  My writer’s group dedicated an entire meeting to writing stories for and about me.  Not to mention, the members of my writers group routinely cheer me on and tell me how great I’m doing and how happy they are to see the positive changes in my life.  (I totally heart you guys!)  Even my gamer friend is happy for me, even if he is disappointed that I am not playing GW2.

I may not have thought that I was enough of a reason to live for when I started this process, but I quickly found out that a lot of people care about me and want good things for me.  I am constantly amazed and overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and love.  They think I am enough.  And that’s good enough for me.