What do you think of yourself?
What tapes do you play in your head? Do you feel worthy?
You could be proud but don’t dare brag. Be subtle. Dress well. Look fine. Just don’t show-off. In other words “Don’t shine too brightly.” That was the message, as I heard it, growing up. My light burned under the bushel yearning for recognition and significance.
As a child I was very assertive and dramatic. I was given attention on stage and thrived on it. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I announced at the dinner table one night after my first high school civics course, “I’ve decided what I want to be when I grow up.”
Dad grinned. “What’s that?” he asked with genuine curiosity.
“Speaker of the House,” I spoke with certainty.
“I thought you already were, ” he teased.
* * *
My siblings were much older. My parents didn’t play with me or take me to fun places. They were older than most parents, dependable, no nonsense, and conscientious parents. I entertained myself.
To feel worthy, I thought, I must earn my own keep. Otherwise I felt undeserving, less than.
When I first began dating Sam, my generous husband of sixteen years, a colleague said, “So, you are a kept woman.” I had a good full time job with benefits, a master’s degree, and four teaching certificates. And yet her words stung because I have an exaggerated passion to pay my own way.
Early in our marriage I was careful not to expect my husband to pay for my almost grown children’s things. I used my paycheck for any of their expenses.
The unforeseen life detour came two years into our marriage. I became chronically ill and had to resign from my job. No monthy paycheck and no insurance meant I was dependent – “a kept woman.” Sam did all he could to assure me that all was well. It really didn’t make any difference that I wasn’t working.
My long held belief system, however, wouldn’t make that shift. If I could succeed in some way I would feel worthy. And, of course, I wouldn’t be indebted to anyone, especially a man, a man who could pull the rug out from under me.
During the following years I wrote, and The American Printing House for the Blind published, my handbook Time for Art using art to teach blind children. I spoke in six states and Canada on the concepts in the book. I contracted to schools in others cities as a consultant for the visually impaired. I had my first article published by Focus on the Family in “Single Parent Family” magazine. I launched a speaking platform and presented seminars on personalities. While I received some satisfaction from the recognition there was something missing.
When she took my hands in hers, looked me in the eyes and said, “You are worthy,”
I am worthy. And So Are YOU.