Take Good Care of Your Self Esteem

What happens to so many people in our society as they grow from children to adults and in the process gradually shed their self-belief and confidence? Between the ages of 13 and 35 I slipped into an alcohol dependency that became so deeply embedded in who I thought I was that the revelation of the real me who came to light after becoming teetotal came as a huge surprise.

As a child I was brimming with self-confidence, a little bit stubborn, a high achiever and natural leader. I threw myself gung-ho into whatever activity I was doing and thought I would reach nothing less than amazing and dizzy heights of success in whatever field I chose to venture into – post Oxbridge, of course.

Oh how reality bites – by age 14 I was drinking regularly, smoking, obsessed with boys, rather less obsessed with school work and venturing ever near to the brink of an eating disorder which fully took hold a few months later. Over the course of the next 5 years, my self-belief nosedived and by the time I was 20 I was living with an ex-con, drinking like a fish and struggling to get through my degree course. I hardly ate, smoked 20 a day and had no desire to do anything with my time other than get absolutely out of my head.

I don’t really have any definitive answers for the puzzle of how that happened. I came from a happy and secure family, I wasn’t bullied at school, there were no major traumas of which I bore deep mental scars. The only constants in the trajectory of my youth, twenties and early thirties were alcohol and cigarettes.

self-esteem

As I spend my life now without the crutch of alcohol, or of any other addiction (excluding coffee and chocolate, but they constitute small-fry in comparison to previous vices) for that matter, it seems entirely probable that the somewhat skewed path that my life took prior to quitting alcohol 2 years ago was as a direct result of too much booze. I was permanently depressed as a consequence of all that wine, I neglected to eat properly owing to a huge lack of self-esteem and some misguided belief that if I was super thin I would be super happy, and not eating caused me to suffer terrible mood swings; I self-medicated these with more wine, and the alcohol was also responsible for many of the poor choices of partner that I made over the years – many of whom I would never have been within 10 yards of had I been sober.

I see my 14 year old daughter now caught like a rabbit in the headlights, choosing whether to believe in something good for herself, or throwing it all to one side and getting on with the business of self-contempt. It seems that, especially for women, developing a sense of low self-worth is perceived as interesting at best, romantic at worse. As a teenager I fell for it hook, line and sinker, filling my head with sexy notions of messed up women, the idea that falling into a state of vulnerability and despair would somehow enhance my attractiveness; a Betty Blue for Sheffield.

Today, as a strong, positive and determined woman of 37, I see nothing to shy away from in the idea of a woman being together and able to take care of herself and her family without the need for a crutch of any sort (apart from the chocolate and the coffee – see above).

It is now my mission to pass this ideal on to my wonderful, intelligent, capable and strong teenage daughter.

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4 thoughts on “Take Good Care of Your Self Esteem

  1. Pip says:

    Something my daughter said to me,which nearly made me cry Lucy. She was talking about a close knit bunch of about five of them,and said” you know what mum? We’re all so close and able to cope so well with life and everything,BECAUSE we all had mums who had suffered in some way or another , it’s made us stronger” She’s turned into a happy confident wonderful person,a rock to her friends,and a compassionate doctor. She knew I loved her,just not myself in the dark hours.I really believe that your daughter is going to grow up with such respect for what you have done,you’ve shown her courage and passion,and we can only teach by example now.Best wishes xx

    • Thanks for this lovely message – That’s a really good way of looking at things. I know my daughter is a very strong person, and I am very grateful that I found the motivation to sort myself out in time to set her a better example. You can’t go back but you can make things better in the future. Your daughter sounds like a great person – I think we must do a better job than we give ourselves credit for. Thanks again for this – it really touched me x

  2. Lou says:

    I am with you on this. Somehow despite being a high achiever at school I threw myself into drinking, smoking, drugs, unsuitable boyfriends, nearly being expelled, depression etc etc age 16. Now age 38 I have finally knocked the booze on the head as the last of my drug habits. I’m learning about my adult self for the first time (day 15). I look back now and wonder why I needed all of this stuff and I was so messed up. I am so fortunate to finally be out the other side and can see it for what it is. X

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