I spent years helping myself overcome a life time of “low self-esteem”. I also worked with a multitude of patients with “low self-esteem” as well. It occurred to me the other day, in a flash of insight, that I never truly suffered from low self-esteem. My problem, I finally understood, has always been that OTHERS don’t esteem me (or treat me in an esteeming fashion). I have, if I am honest, always actually liked myself. My problem has been that I don’t feel understood, liked, or accepted by others. It’s the very act of judging myself based on the opinions of others that has created my feelings of low self-esteem. By valuing myself through the eyes of others I have never measured up. Other people have different ideas and agendas they apply to me and inadvertently I have tried to meet their many expectations only to fail in the end in spite of my efforts. By cutting all ties between the opinions of others and my opinion of myself I have discovered that I do, in fact, like myself just fine. As a more mature adult, I have slowly separated myself from the opinions of others and have simply accepted myself regardless of what others say about me. Instead, I stay away from people who find it necessary to remind me of my mistakes, failures, and the infinite number of times I’ve disappointed them (and to hear them talk, it’s been my life mission to deliberately fail people). While I may be as bad as people seem to want me to think I am, deep down I know my only failing is trusting and loving people who are not trustworthy or loving in return. I am not perfect by any means but I do know that if my worth to others is based on what I can do and be FOR THEM then it’s really not what I would consider a mutually respectful relationship. The year of 2017 was a huge turning point for me. I stopped trying to earn people’s love and I’ve stopped trying to prove my love for others. I have gotten so tired and as I age I am painfully aware of how little time I have left to enjoy my life a bit. It is hurtful not to have any deep relationships especially with the people I love the most. I do have a problem with trust which certainly is a factor. I am friendly and sociable at times but also pull back when I sense people getting “too close”. It’s still true, for me, that any attempt at relating to others ultimately involves the use of my time, resources, and energy for the benefit of the other person and at my own expense. I’m just not willing to give anymore of myself right now. I believe a real, healthy relationship is 50/50 on average. I believe that both parties in a relationship give and receive with a healthy balance over time. SOME people, however, only take and then demonize others for not giving enough. I’m weary of being reminded of my mistakes over and over again without any respect for my youth at the time, my sincerity in my efforts, or the real sacrifices I made to give my loved ones a better life. I spent 2016 working very hard to reach out and nurture relationships only to find that no one seems to feel any differently toward me than they ever have. I do feel shunned and ostracized at times (Is that redundant)? I FEEL like I am last on everyone’s list (except my husbands) and the absolute last straw was Easter 2017. It was a brief telephone interaction with some one I love with all my heart that brought everything into sharp focus–it’s hopeless with some people. I will always be the punching bag, scapegoat, and the person SOME people love to hate it seems. So be it. I know who loves me in spite of my failings. I have come to the conclusion that having no relationships at all is better than having stressful ones. I know I have to account for myself and I acknowledge I have made mistakes in my life. I can say, on the other hand, that my conscience is clear.