A friend of mine lost her wedding ring while Trick-or-Treating, so I’ve been walking the block at a slow pace, head down, searching for it. (She found it a couple of days later.)
While walking, I found myself in this thought and prayer gestalt, just turning over my day with God, and I found myself dwelling on the weird relationship each of us has with ourselves. If you love yourself too much it ends up funny, like Gaston in Beauty and the Beast. But most people I know have the opposite problem.
I thought about eating disorders, and the sad trap of someone never being thin enough, the need to dominate their own body, and at the bottom of it the hatred of one’s own body because it’s too fat.
Would someone with anorexia eventually reach a place where she felt, “Okay, this is thin enough. Now I can love myself”? I don’t think so. I think that’s the nature of the disorder.
It’s not just about thinness. We sabotage ourselves in so many ways. Someone who feels she isn’t good enough is never good enough.
I’m not talking about pride. I’m talking about a healthy love of self, aka self-respect, the way this writer talks about her feelings about her own body.
Someone I know is a professional success but will say “I don’t know, I was just lucky.” It’s as if someday everyone will uncover this person as a professional fraud, and the degree and the publications and the prestigious job are all a mistake.
I feel that way about my writing sometimes, the “This doesn’t count” feeling where really, I’m just a failure for one reason or another. If I were regularly on the New York Times bestseller list, would I still feel that way? Probably. Probably I’d tell myself it was just a fluke, or I was just lucky, or it was all because of my agent.
So when is enough enough? For all of us wandering around in a lack-of-self-love stupor, is it a kind of emotional anorexia, where we keep moving the goalposts so we’re not worthy of our own esteem? When can we say, “Okay, this is enough. I can love myself now”?