For several days now, I have been debating over how to use my 3,000[sup]th[/sup] post at these message boards. I was reading Soda’s thread and saw the supportive messages sent to her by other participants here. Some of them commiserated about feelings of isolation, loneliness and self destructive thoughts. I was reflecting upon what it takes to mitigate such negative emotions. All too often, I find that Western medicine attempts to counteract such morose behavior through prescription drugs and not much else. Having seen, first hand, the often deleterious side effects and ineffectual “Band-Aid” treatment of symptoms in friends and acquaintances, I was compelled to consider what better methods exist.
A distinct portion of clinical practitioners honestly acknowledge the greater efficacy of therapeutic psychiatry over medication. Sadly, the prohibitive cost of individual treatment more often results in medication without corollary patient therapy interviews. I am keenly aware of how important a role these boards can play in providing cogent interaction to many who are suffering from isolation or lack of constructive input. I firmly believe that one of the higher functions of these boards is to provide such affirmation. To dispel the darkness cast by lack of fellowship is just as critical as fighting ignorance.
To that end, it struck me rather strongly that one primary asset in fighting morose and sometimes even debilitating frames of mind is simply, to love oneself. I have met many people who were heavily engaged in long term self-destructive behavior and managed to abate it somewhat through religious commitment. As a devout agnostic, my own view of this method is that it is one of displacement. Too often a semblance of loving one’s self has only been attained through reallocation of such important feelings to a more consensually accepted receptacle.
In quite a few cases, I have witnessed people wholly surrender their self-determination and pursuit of personal ideals over to such surrogate institutions. The organization’s role as a quasi-family provides the ostensible social intercourse needed for such individuals to believe that they have attained both group and self acceptance. I am glad to say that I have been friends with enough people who remain free thinkers above and beyond their religion to where I do not think that absolving oneself of free will is intrinsic to religious experience.
My major concern is that the love of self can, does, and quite possibly should, arise more out of a realization of self worth than that of group acceptance. The elevation of individual spirit need not be contrary to nor restricted by religious experience. Herein lies the purpose of this thread.
After almost forty years of dire confusion concerning personal purpose and self worth, I began to see a light in the darkness. However much familial abuse and misuse by so-called friends attempted to shroud that flame, I managed to keep it alive. As I slowly came to realize that many outside forces did not have my best interests at heart, I began to more carefully investigate what they really were. I found that all of the most prized things in my life usually were not best served by what I had been taught was important. These “important” things were supposed to be family and kin with all of the unconditional love and loyalty that is supposed to attend them.
I experienced much conflict due to the wishes of others for compassion and understanding without any return of the same by them. In short, it was a very Hellish one way street. However Herculean my own efforts were they never seemed to make the grade for those around me. I finally arrived at a marvelously simple solution. One by one, I dismissed these people from my life. Excruciating as the isolation might have been, the lack of turmoil was, in a word, deafening.
Thus began a perilous and sometimes torturous road to loving myself. I often half-joke about how, now that I have begun to love myself, I am totally insufferable. So be it. The benefits of self-acceptance and internal positive outlook so far outweigh any perceived worth of interaction with halfhearted family and fairweather friends that I can never look back.
I ask any of you who have read this far; What was it that made you realize the importance of loving yourself? Were you among the fortunate that had stable and rational families to nurture this? Was there an underlying strata of coherence and consistent philosophy that enabled you to be sure of yourself? For those of you who came to love yourselves later in life, what precipitated this event? Were there drastic measures required to achieve it or was some other internal realignment necessary?
What brought me to my senses was an epiphany of realizing how I was “feeding the hand that bit me.” So many people I once knew were quite content to foster my insecurities since they manifested in overcompensation with extreme generosity and attention. Too often at the precise detriment to my own needs and goals. Needless to say, that crap is over with for once and all. I still exhibit these same tendencies but it is now a habit that is broken instead of dominant.
Despite the sometimes lukewarm reception I obtain at these boards, the free interchange of ideas and emphasis upon constructive criticism keep me coming back for more. I often marvel at how the decency and warmth I find here far surpasses any encouragement I ever received from my own family. I shall not be in the least surprised if many of you feel the same as well.
And so ends my tale of self discovery. I hope that others here will reply with their own experiences in self realization. However rocky the road has been for this self-declared orphan, I can only shout out in joy that I have shrugged off these chains from my soul and begun to let it take wing.