I've realized something recently about the relationship between the image I have of myself and the images others have of me.
I've always had a fairly fragile self-image. People who know me at all well can tell you that I'm quick to see myself as not worth much and not really good at much of anything. I tend to emphasize the things that others are better than me at, downplay the importance of the things that I am good at, and not believe that I deserve any recognition that I get. With words of affirmation being one of my primary Love Languages, words about me doing things well can lift me up, but only temporarily. Words about me being bad at things or not having qualities that I should have will rip me to pieces in a heartbeat.
One area where this has been shown clearly is in how I see my reactions to the infertility issue. I had muddled my way through for several months doing the best I could but not really focusing on whether the job I was doing was good or bad. Then, I got hit with the feedback that I was handling things badly and that I needed to shape up. I got into therapy, increased my meds, and started this blog. I could see an improvement in myself, especially given how what I was feeling got worse, but I continued to receive feedback about how awful I was at handling things, culminating with the comments that led to me not writing for several weeks in January and considering killing the blog.
In March, I was shocked when our couples therapist told me that I actually was handling things surprisingly well. DH also was able to understand that, whether he could get what I was feeling or not, what I was feeling was normal. With their support, I started to build the beginnings of a more positive set of beliefs about myself and about how I am handling an extremely difficult set of circumstances.
I learned just how fragile these positive thoughts and beliefs were, however, a week and a half ago when a person whose opinion I greatly respect told me that being honest about how I feel is not ok and that the progress that made still leaves me so far below what is acceptable that it is worthless. I was also told that I am in the process of driving away my friends because they have to come up with a plan for how to tell me their good news in such a way that I don't make a public scene.
DH and I were talking about this in relation to the Johari Window. (For those who are not familiar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johari_window) As we were talking, I realized that I felt like I was being told the Facade and Blind Spot areas were mutually exclusive in this case. The Facade section held the idea that I am handling things about as well as could be expected. The Blind Spot section held the idea that I'm so bad at handling things that I'm not worth being around. Those can't both be true. My natural inclinations, as described above, combined with the fact that I respect this person's opinion and this person told me a lot of people share the Blind Spot view but don't want to tell me. This led to me thinking that the Blind Spot opinion must be right and that I need to find a way to completely change my brain and personality if I want to keep my friends.
A couple of days ago, a friend sent me a Facebook message telling me about her pregnancy news before she posted it on her news feed. One of the things she said really touched me and made me feel better about who and how I am. She said that she appreciated the genuineness and honesty of this blog. That statement helped me to start picking up a couple more pieces of my self-image and to put back together a little of what had been smashed apart.
Just to make myself clear, I'm NOT writing this as a veiled request for people to stroke my ego or tell me that I'm handling things wonderfully or tell me that I shouldn't change a thing. I know that I am the only person responsible for my self-esteem. I'm just sharing where I'm at and one of the things that I am working on.