My wedding day…I loved every minute of it. It was the day I will always remember feeling like the center of my husband’s world. He made it clear he was choosing me above all others that day. He watched me walk down the aisle in God’s house to him, NO ONE ELSE…he wasn’t waiting for anyone or anything else but for me to be his wife. I walked to him in front of God and our most important family and friends and together we promised, “…as long as we both shall live…”
I want to feel like that again. I want to feel set apart from every other woman in this world.
I feel loved by him. I do. I have never felt unloved.
But feeling respected, prioritized, set apart from any other woman…his affair and his other inappropriate relationships have taken that security from me. I find myself even a year later, fighting demons of insecurity that all those things set in motion. Despite his own profession that what happened was NEVER a reflection on who I am or that I am not the one he wants to be married to there is still fear. I still have moments of doubt and even anxiety that try and take over my belief in all that. All the progress and positive steps we have taken over this past year can feel light years away when I let the self doubt take control. But I can’t deny they are still there.
One of the hardest mental hurdles to get over is knowing he said our marriage was in a great place when his actions were at their worst. He says he was happy and would have told anyone who asked him just that, even when he was sleeping with “her”. (The reality of that still just makes me want to scream, kick, punch, cry, break something). How do I continue to process that reality? According to him what happened was based on his self-esteem issues and his making selfish choices? I know in my heart and mind that his healing and journey to make better choices is NOT my job. (I’ve written what I know to be true about that, BehindMyChoice: To Let Go of His Healing). I know I can not change a thing about him, that’s his job. Those issues are on him and what he needs to work out with our Father God and Creator and his own heart. I know and believe even reaching a place of complete understanding as to why any of this even happened is not my responsibility. That’s on him.
BUT…how do I take all that in and make sure my self-esteem doesn’t become it’s prey?
I stated in my most recent post (Reflections of a year gone by) to believe, “my self worth is NOT dependent on my husband’s actions, reactions or choices, be they good or horrible ones.” I still hold that to be a truth. But if I am being honest it is a struggle to not attach any of my self-worth to my husband and my marriage. Especially after my self-esteem really struggled for a long time (and still battles) that this wasn’t my fault. It’s hard when I believe my marriage covenant made our two hearts one. His actions took away what I thought was something he would NEVER share with anyone other than me. What set me apart from any and every other woman on this earth. What made me special, chosen above ALL others.
I have to remind myself that self-esteem and self-worth are different things in my humble opinion. They both may reflect each other to some degree, but one does not need the other. Ultimately my self-worth can’t come from ANY earthly means. Let me explain. For me, self worth comes from who I am in my God’s eyes, and I define myself by my self-worth not my self-esteem. I was created by God, the maker of heaven and earth. That definition can’t change for me. WHO I am was knit together and created by God as a unique masterpiece, with a purpose for the life He placed me in. That CAN’T change. Whether I am defined here on this earth as a woman, daughter, friend, mother, even wife. I am one of God’s creations. That is where my worth comes from.
My self-esteem can and does take hits because lets face it, it relies more on external input from the life I live, circumstances, events, relationships and those around me. People may disagree with me but I find peace in these two differences. And I am okay with looking at it this way. When I was younger and my feelings got hurt by circumstance or people my faith taught me to acknowledge my pain was real. My self-esteem took a hit but my self-worth gave me strength to dig deeper than the momentary ouch and not let it redefine who I am.
So as I continue to face this hurt and the hurt and hit my self-esteem has taken in my marriage I battle the difference between the two definitions. No matter how hard I try to separate the two though the truth is self-esteem plays a roll in my self-worth. It does NOT however, define it despite the weakness is may cause in your armor of confidence. And evil knows how to get to your weakness. Evil doesn’t want Godly marriages to thrive in this world. Why wouldn’t evil take the opportunity to make me question if I could have done things differently or prevented my husband’s choices (actions)? Why wouldn’t evil and darkness try to over take my trust in my husband’s words that what happened was about him and not that I am a bad wife or person? Why wouldn’t evil try to make me question if everything that happened was my fault? The truth is…this wasn’t about me being attractive enough, committed enough, loving enough. This wasn’t a reflection of me not being supportive or outgoing, adventurous or giving enough. But evil knows that’s where to get me. That’s where it will hurt the most. That doubt could make me wonder if we should fight for the covenant we made before God. If we would not have fought this past year to move past it…that put evil ahead. If I let the pain and doubts of self-esteem determine my self-worth then evil wins another battle.
Self-esteem is a fragile, irreplaceable element to facing each day with confidence. But it can’t be where we find our foundation of self-worth. I will admit it’s one of the hardest, purposeful and proactive choices I make when the triggers hit or evil tries to weasel it’s way back into my thoughts. I have to face head on the self-esteem hits. I have to acknowledge them. Talk them through. Pray over them. Seek counsel and accountability not to let those hits become more than they should be. And when the hits are valid or a fault of my own, own up to my part and change what I need to.
Uncomfortable as it is I have to be honest the hits still hurt. The hits cause weakness in my armor. Those weaknesses need to be patched up and reinforced. Some of those reinforcements will need to come from my husband. I will need him do that, for no other reason than, his actions caused the hurt. (But that’s another blog for another time) For others I will need to start at the foot of the cross and dig deeper into my self-worth to re-establish what my self-esteem should truly rely on.
Behind my choice to live by self-worth and not self-esteem alone takes power away from evil and it’s attempts to undermine the Godly marriage I seek to have. To live by self-worth gives my daily purpose more intentional meaning, one that looks past this life being about me but about my faith. Will I handle (good grief do I handle) every hit with grace heck no, I am not perfect, no way. But I strive for that in an attempt that maybe, just maybe my actions and reactions will bring God to the surface and make Him tangible to those around me (even myself). And I can’t think of a better place to start than the most important relationship given to my charge than my marriage.
SO when evil tries to rear it’s ugly face and make me question my faults in this, and the hits will come, I will once again remind myself to live by self-worth not self-esteem alone.