A Lesson in Self Worth

I’m not sure how to start this post off, so I’ll just dive right into it.

You know that I have trouble with feeling worthy, feeling deserving of people’s attention and time. Don’t ask me why this is because I’m not sure. At this point, I don’t even know if it matters (but I sure am curious).

Well, something happened this weekend that, in retrospect, gave me a feeling of worth.

Let me explain.

VISITORS FROM AFAR

Four months ago, an old friend from middle- and high-school contacted me through my website (via Facebook). We were great friends back then, and despite looking for her online many times over the last however many years, I could not find her.

So she found me and reached out.

I was so excited! I could not believe that, having last seen and heard from her in 1991, we were actually back in contact! (The internet is amazing, isn’t it?)

So, we’ve been texting and emailing faithfully since May. Well, she just turned 50 last week and wanted to spend her birthday weekend here in Minneapolis, with me. Did I mention she lives in Detroit? That’s about 750 miles away. That’s a long fucking drive!

Very long story short, she and her wife arrived Friday evening and left last night (Sunday). It was the most interesting weekend I’ve had in, well, a really, really long time.

My friend and I got tattoos on Saturday (see picture below) and her wife – a chef! – cooked an absolutely amazing meal for us yesterday. Because it rained and the weather was generally crappy most of the time, we didn’t do a whole lot outside the house.

Side note: They actually had reservations at a campground, but received word on their way here that – get this – the campground had gotten struck by lightning and had no running water!! So they got a refund, stayed with us the first night, and then made arrangements at a hotel for the remainder of their stay. And that was only one unexpected thing out of many that happened along their way. They were real troopers!

A LITTLE BACKGROUND

I grew up just outside Detroit. When I was eighteen, I went away to a college that was 2 ½ hours away. I lived in that small town for six years afterward, while I worked on my Master’s degree; then my husband and I moved to the East Bay area of California (near San Francisco).

When we got divorced in 2003, I could no longer afford to live in California, so my late brother, Chris, and his wife said, “Come live with us in Minnesota!” I’ve lived here for almost fifteen years now.

I have had very few people come visit me since I left the Detroit area. Sure, my mom and step-dad have visited from time to time, and my brother Craig came to visit when I lived in California. So did my best friend from high-school. My good high-school friend, Tracy, drove 2 ½ hours to my college town to help me for a couple days after my husband was involved in a really bad car accident in 1993.

And that’s about it.

All of my adult life, I have been the one to keep connections alive. I’ve always had to be the one to make the trip (sometimes very long, expensive trips) to see my friends.

A different good high-school friend of mine went to Disneyland (the one in Anaheim, California) while I was living in San Francisco about 20 years ago. I drove eight hours on a rainy night to see her and her husband and kids for one day.

I have always secretly felt a resentment about all of this. Mostly, though, I felt like I wasn’t worth the trip.

Then this weekend happened.

SURPRISE!

I am going to be 50 years old in three months. I have only seen my good friends from way-back-when a handful of times since 1991, after I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree and decided to stay in that town.

And then here comes my best friend from middle school and her wife – whom I’ve never met or even talked to, but was willing to drive more than twelve hours to visit me, bless her – for a long weekend.

As I mentioned, their trip was fraught with mishaps, a few misunderstandings, and a little stress, but they survived and we had some fun.

I watched and waved as they drove off last night around seven p.m.

I then started crying immediately.

And I don’t mean a few tears of sadness because they were gone. I mean I was sobbing. And they weren’t tears of sadness. No, they weren’t happy tears because they had “finally left”, either!

They were tears full of emotion. I went back inside and bawled in the bedroom for a while, trying to explain to my wife what was going through my mind.

Here’s the deal:

The fact that my friend and her wife chose to drive so far just to see me was humbling. It made me feel like I mattered.

As I said, I had never even met my friend’s wife before, nor had we talked or texted or anything. But she was willing to go on this trip with her wife and she seemed excited to meet me.

And they are both so generous and kind. I mean, all of my friends are good peeps and are generous and kind. But this was different. They literally went waaaay out of their way just for me. I was stunned. Still am.

I was excited to see them, but I didn’t realize I would feel so emotional about it.

My wife gave me a big hug and told me that I matter to more people than I think. I pondered that for a moment and found it hard to believe. But maybe it’s true?

MOVING FORWARD

So, I’m wondering what impact this realization might have on my future state of mind and my behaviors. There’s no way to know right now, of course. And this is probably one of those lessons I will have to be reminded of and relearn from time to time, like acceptance or the value of “letting go”.

For now, my heart feels full. I feel less anxiety than usual right now, less misfit-ish. Like maybe I do have a place in this world.

Maybe I do actually make an impact on some people more than I realize.

Other people seem to see my worth, why not me? Right?

I don’t think I will ever forget that moment of realization. I’m not even sure what emotions I was feeling, maybe because I’m not used to feeling them. I just know that it’s a good thing.

So, my friends (you know who you are), thank you from the bottom of my formerly-empty, questioning heart. Your visit and the kindness you showed me and my family will fuel my confidence and sense of worth for a long time.

I love you both.

P.S. Sorry this pic is so BIG; I can’t figure out how to make it smaller! 🙂

Please share the love! 🙂


A version of this post was previously published on DepressionWarrior and is republished here with permission from the author.

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Photo credit: Laura Becker