Wednesday, July 31, 2013

what are you worth?

i am vanessa and i am not what happened to my body.

one of the things that’s been hard for me is keeping a feeling of self worth and of value. dealing with any kind of abuse tells you that you are worth nothing in the eyes of your abusers messes and changed the way you see yourself. these days my self confidence is not what it was and some days it doesn't exist at all. in its place there are great big storm clouds of doubt and fear and shame. i remember all through middle school and high school listening to speakers and teachers go on and on about the importance of high self esteem and being self confident. i think those motivational talks were important and even worthwhile but life gets tough and can push pretty hard.

so when your self confidence or self esteem take a beating, then what?

i think it's easy to take the best or worst experience of your life and think of yourself only in terms of that event. for me at least that's proven true. but whether the experience is good or bad it’s probably not accurate way to measure yourself. maybe other people are better at dealing with it but for me it's been hard. when i think about what happened i use words like evil, disgusting, degrading, shameful, and dirty and it's hard not to apply those words to me as a person. separating myself from that event has been incredibly hard. little by little it's sinking in that i am not the one who’s evil or disgusting. 

self esteem is a tricky thing. it's subject to so many outside factors and really is not to be trusted (unless you’re a super pro at then please give me some pointers asap.) how others treat you, how they talk about you, a first date, a break up, your finances, a fight with a spouse or a friend, your job, an awesome hair day, a horrible hair day, how many likes you got on instagram, your family, a compliment, a criticism, the number of followers you have on twitter, your mood, a promotion, how much sleep you got, your material possessions, your health, whether or not you have a zit, an awesome blowout... any number of things affect your self confidence.

and then there's self worth.

ages ago i read a story of a man who saved for years to give his wife a pair of diamond earrings. when she opened them she inwardly knew they couldn't be real diamonds because of their financial situation. thinking they were fakes she wasn't always careful with them. sometimes she'd forget where she'd taken them off or leave them near the sink or was careless with them. one evening she mentioned to her husband that she'd misplaced them and was not able to find them. the husband was frantic. he began searching everywhere for the missing earrings. as the wife watched her husband search she realized that the diamonds had been real and she joined in the search for the missing earrings.

the point is the worth of the diamonds never changed. they were always of great value. and their value did not change based on how they were treated. 

the same is true for me. and for you. your worth, your value as a person, as a child of god or of the universe, as a living, breathing human being does not change. i believe each of us was created intentionally and purposefully and have infinite worth. i guess that includes me. your self confidence might change but you're worth as a person and a spirt does not. a friend of mine summed it up like this: "there are days when you might be treated like crap and you might feel like crap but that does not make you crap."

what happened to me has changed me. it's changed the way i think and the way i live... but it has not changed my worth. every single day i fight to remember that. it's probably what i struggle with the most. my worth has not changed. i wish i could have it tattooed on the inside of my eyelids or something so i'd remember it. there are days when i'm overwhelmed by the memory of what happened and by fear of the future. but i am not what happened to me. i am not the choices made by those evil men.

so what am i? 

i am a daughter, a sister, a niece, an aunt, a granddaughter and a friend. i am funny. i am grumpy. i am hopeful. i am a worker. i am a private person. i am hopeful. i am an avid nail painter. i am a daughter of god. i am frizzy-haired. i am a writer. i am a painter. i am a spanish speaker. i am an ice cream eater. i am a photographer. i am a pizza lover. i am a terrible singer. i am stubborn. i am a road tripper. i am a peace keeper. i am a future french speaker. i am a member of the church of jesus christ of later-day saints. i am a coconut lover. i am opinionated. i am a return missionary. i am clumsy. i am reserved. i am right handed. i am a shortie. i am a dreamer. i am a traveler. i am a sunscreen wearer. i am a doodler. i am a book reader. i am a blogger. i am a california girl. i am a teacher. i am a dog person. i am near-sighted. i am a cardigan wearer. i am a giraffe lover. i am a temple goer. i am a sunshine lover. 

i am vanessa and i am not what happened to my body.

image from tiffany & co.


  1. Love this. Yes, you are all of those beautiful words and truths. I used to lay awake constantly thinking of all of the things I had done or was a victim to and my insomnia was a nightmare. I am so glad we can claim our worth and know that we are of great value, especially thanks to a loving God. Peace will get closer and refresh you more and more as you continue to embrace this view, and fill yourself with the beauty of the earth and the light of heaven, Joie girl:) much blessing... And much respect on being so bold as to tell your tale here. Xo