As I took time to meditate and research for this month’s blog I discovered something that captivated my attention. Did you know that there is a term for women that attach their self-worth to their romantic relationships? The term used to identify these relationships is “contingent self-esteem.” We all have that friend who loses herself when she is in a relationship; in short, the concept describes one whose self-esteem stems from the outcomes, process, and nature of one’s romantic relationship. I will be transparent and admit that aside from knowing women who have fallen into the black hole of “contingent self-esteem” I too have been there. I am not for certain that my entire self-esteem came from my ex-husband but what I can tell you is that I felt like I did not know if I could learn to be alone after being married for 11 years. I had developed a great fear to being alone forever and not finding the One.
This concept became even more relevant one day as I sat and talked with Sheila. Specifically as she shared that after a break-up from a man she loved, she did not know who she was or what she wanted from life. She experienced a period of desperation, hopelessness, and overall loneliness.
Knowing Sheila today, you would have never guessed she was once so broken it hurt to get through what once was an average day of school, work and home. She is a strong, resilient, and brave woman. Sheila shared that her journey towards self-love and re-discovery of life’s purpose stemmed from pain, heart-ache, and a sense of fear and dissolution from the break-up. We met during that transition process and I have personally witnessed an incredible growth in this woman. She launched a Non-profit Hiking group (HikeScape LA), she went from being a participant in a women's group to leading one, and is on an amazing health journey. She took time to honor her pain and took what she could to start rebuilding what she once saw shattered before her eyes.
In both our cases, I think it's safe to say that we did not realize our self-worth until after the relationship ended. For me I know it was a blessing in disguise and in her case she stated that ending that relationship helped her open her eyes. It also allowed her to learn more about herself, her self-worth and gain self-love. Many times it's difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel and I love a quote she used: No matter what the current circumstance is, it isn't permanent. Absolutely not!
Was it difficult! HECK YEAH! But what you gain in the end has so much more value. Both of us experienced feeling lonely and empty even when surrounded by so many people. The breakups were what allowed us to step into our greatness and learn to love ourselves. We are worthy and no one person determines our worth. Self-love is a process and it was not something we were accustomed to. Shelia confesses self-love is what allowed her to value herself and dedicate time to enjoying life and discovering new passions, love and overall inner-peace.
Both Sheila and I agree that the silver-lining to healing is believing that our worth is not determined by anyone other than ourselves. Sheila shared that she read self-help books, learned more about powerful mujeres that overcame challenges, and surrounded her-self by inspiring friends. For me, it was making the decision to love myself, forgive myself, practicing self-care and intentionally living. In the end, Sheila just allowed her true self to break through. She knows today that she is worthy, she is strong and she loves spreading her love and joy with others. She is BOLD and she ROSE above her circumstances.