I think one of the biggest issues I had growing up was people telling me what was wrong with me. Sure, there was also reinforcement of the positive things but....those things always seemed to get drowned out by the negative ones.
Some of those things were parental nagging. You know the kind, "You are lazy!" or "Why can't you do better in school?". Some were from friends who thought they knew me so well they could tell me exactly what was wrong with me, "You are a know-it-all!" or "You are so mean!". (And yes, even I can be mean...lol)
The point here is that none of these people meant to do me any lasting harm with their words, because they certainly didn't mean to. But what they didn't realize is that I had internal issues with self esteem which made every little negative comment hit me like an arrow to the heart that got repeated over and over again like a mantra in my head.
And at the time, I couldn't even conceive of the idea that there wasn't something horribly wrong with me that set me apart from society at large. I couldn't imagine being anything but garbage. I couldn't imagine deserving to, much less actually, being treated like a person of worth instead of garbage.
This is because every little comment that was thrown my way was compounded in my head, weighing me down all the more. And certainly, on the surface, I could find any number of people to blame that on because of how people talked to me or treated me. But beneath the surface, in that secret place I MOST feared to look, the real blame was centered on me. So even as I got angry and lashed out at the people around me, blaming them for my horrible life, a part of me knew (without actually knowing consciously) that it wasn't really their fault and felt guilt/shame over it.
This lack of general self esteem subsequently effected the kinds of people I dated and hung around with. It forced me to put up with alot of actions I probably wouldn't have otherwise if I were healthy: like physical, sexual, mental, and emotional abuse, drug abuse by partners and friends, drinking, sexual behaviors I found abhorrent sometimes like being passed around to my boyfriend's friends. The list of debauchery goes on and on, sadly.
Sometimes I think that was my own way of self mutilating, even though I didn't use a razor. I'd just settle for anyone who wanted me and let them treat me like the trash I thought I was. Because I didn't think I was long for this world and that suicide was the only thing in my future, if someone didn't kill me first.
Now I'm not saying these are your issues. Nor am I saying these are you experiences. We all have our own unique experiences and issues. But the bottom line is that alot of that is based out of the same root cause....low self esteem. We think so little of ourselves, whether we are male or female, that we lose sight of our own innate value as people. And we force ourselves to accept behaviors and treatment we wouldn't accept otherwise, because we think we deserve it.
Maybe it's in the name of love. Maybe it's in the name of self preservation. Maybe it's in the name of fear of being alone. Maybe it's any number of reasons....but what's the cause? What brought you to that point?
For me it was, in part, being sexually abused as a child. From the age of 6 on it felt as though I were in an abusive relationship where the other person had all the power and I had none. And my relationships; lovers and friends alike, followed that pattern as I grew up without me even realizing it.
But do I put the blame for my life, the way it turned out and the person I became then, on those people who have hurt me, even the person who abused me as a child? No, I don't. Even though people certainly wouldn't blame me if I did, because I'd been through something so traumatic, I take responsibility for the way my life has turned out and the person I've become since that time, because I was always the one in control...not my abuser, and not the people who came later in my life either.
Taking responsibility for my life was probably one of the hardest things I could ever do, because it meant facing my own demons. It meant facing the fact that I had a hand in everything that happened, because I could have chosen to walk away from those things at any time in their duration and didn't. And this was a real truth I had to contend with in the present, whether I realized it in that moment from the past or not. We always have a choice.
The ironic thing is that I didn't do these things in therapy. No one taught me how to do this or helped me along my path as I did this self analysis. But whether you do them in therapy or not, is moot because the where and how it's done is of much less importance than the fact that we do it.
And while I can sit here and say it was the hardest thing I ever did, I can also sit here and say it was the most rewarding and empowering thing I ever did for myself, as well. Because while I had to face alot of demons, it also showed me that I am much stronger than I ever could have imagined. This was because I had faced and survived so many horrible things in my life and not only come out alive, but came away with my sanity, as well.
Money, material wealth, dreams, and all the other superficial things valued in this lifetime paled in comparison with that one realization. And slowly, but surely, I turned into a Buddhist who has practiced celibacy for over 12 years now, because even the need for romantic relationships pale in comparison to that realization....to that awakening.
I'm not saying that's the path for you by any means or the eventual outcome you should expect or even strive for. Everyone has their own path and their own way of coming to terms with their lifetime of issues. Mine has brought me great peace and I wish only the same for you all.
And believe me when I say, I know its a hard journey, despite where you start out from. It's hard to go from thinking nothing of yourself to having faith in your own self worth. And it's certainly not an overnight process. It took me the same 12 years of celibacy to come to terms with my issues and I'm still working on them. And I don't see a grand conclusion, or a moment of final closure where in I somehow become an enlightened master. All I see is me struggling the best way I know how and doing the best I can, just like you.
And that's all you have to do...all you have to worry about; putting one foot in front of the other and taking your journey step by step. And only moving forward when you are ready. Because only then do you realize your own true worth and value. It can't come to you suddenly, like magic, and be sustained over time in a single moment. It comes as you deal with your issues. It comes as you work for your own betterment.
And this is true whether you are an Empath or not, because this is a very human issue. ^_^ So I'll leave you with this. You aren't alone. We are all struggling the best way we know how.
And there is a saying: We all walk the same journey, even as we walk our individual paths alone. What that means is that even as we have our individual life experiences that differ from everyone else, we are all on the same journey together. In it's way, it's telling you that you aren't alone.
Think about it. ^_^