Question 16 of 52

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What is self esteem?

It is the measure of self-worth or personal value.

Back in University I took several mandatory courses on self-esteem. My prof. was Eva Roche. I learned a lot from her. One class she invited all of us (40 ish?) to her home for breakfast. Her house was perched on Strathearn Drive overlooking the valley and downtown Edmonton. She shared this home with Senator Doug Roche. It was a strange but lovely bohemian home with the living quarters upstairs to take advantage of the views. All the walls were lined with book cases filled with books from floor to ceiling, except the living room. It had two chairs in front of a large picture window and a sofa with a soft yellow throw. I have no idea why I remember this home in such vivid detail, but I do.

Eva asked us to bring a lemon. There was food laid out on the long farmer’s table. We only had to bring a lemon. So I did. We ate, toured her home, visited with each other and finally she asked us to join her in the library. It was the largest room about 15′ x 15 ‘ square but there were no chairs in this room. We stood around the perimeter and she asked us to place the lemon on the floor. We were to think of the lemon as ourselves and place it where we felt we fit within the group. I was asked to go first. I placed it left of the centre. I didn’t not see myself as the centre of the group.

What followed shocked me. People were placing the lemons around me so by the end I was in the centre. I always felt invisible. I never was the centre of attention but I always had a kind word for people. I also would notice when someone was felling left out or alone, I would approach them so they would feel connection. The feed back I received was I was confident, compassionate and kind. True, I did see myself like that. I wasn’t the most popular but I was the reliable, kind person of the group. The most interesting part of this social experiment was the most popular person was on the outside. She didn’t feel connected. She arranged all the fun stuff to do and people loved having this social director of the group, but she never felt connected. Never being a popular person, I never thought about how it must feel. She did all those things to gain a connection and she never felt worthy of it. This shocked me to my core. After that day, I made more of an effort to connect with her. We finished out the program as best pals until she moved back to Nova Scotia.

My self-esteem took a hit living with a man who mentality and emotionally abused me. He would say things like ‘your mother doesn’t love you.’ or ‘if it wasn’t for me, you would have no one.’ He separated me from my friends and family. I was alone and disconnected. I broke up with him once, only to be sucked back in by his ability to manipulate my family. One day he said, I don’t want to have children with you because you would insist on giving them self-esteem. He spat it out as if it was a bad thing. I looked at him and it was if a glass wall shattered. I saw the sad boy on the outside wanting to connect with someone. Making me like him was his way of connecting. That was the day I began plotting my exit. I tried a few times to leave but escape is hard when you can’t articulate to friends and family why you need to leave. I didn’t fully understand myself until years later after endless journal entries and visits to my therapist.

It took a long time to get back to understanding my self-worth and personal value. I can still see people who are looking to connect. I sometimes try to connect but I get easily pulled into their emotional turmoil so I have set strong boundaries. It took years to get here, so I am cautious who I let into my circle because I want to avoid being sucked under again. But mostly it feels good to be comfortable in my own skin.

Stay healthy friends!

The Gun Man

I have been reading a lot of posts from Canadians condemning the American’s right to bare arms. Oh Canada, take care of your own backyard before you start judging our neighbours to the south.

I am a Canadian, born and raised. I have worked in Canadian elementary schools most of my adult life. I have been in lockdown situations more than I care to think about. 3 of those occasions were because of a gunman. Gun laws and stricter school policy are not going to change school shootings. Only you will.

The man-child who was involved in the Connecticut shootings was the son of a substitute teacher. He was disgruntled about something. The school has a policy of keeping the children locked in for their safety. The school recognized him. let him in and he went on a rampage. The school policy didn’t save those children. Strict gun laws about assault weapons didn’t protect those children.

Teachers lost their lives to protect your children. They huddled in corners and closets keeping the children quiet and safe. When children cried, teachers would gently take the child’s face into their hands and whisper, “It will be okay, we will be safe. I won’t let anything happen to you.” The teachers lived up to their promise as best they could.

People who wonder why need to look at the broader picture. changing policy and laws won’t help very much other than making life more complicated for the average law abiding citizen. If someone wants a gun, they will find away. If someone wants to create a bomb, they will find a way. We need to think about why these people want these things.

Removing the stigma of mental health issues will help but so will kindness and empathy. Be kind to people, listen to people when they want to talk. Ask people questions about how they are and mean it. Be intentional with kindness and compassion. It may not save everyone but the world will be a better place for.

Peace and kindness is all I ask.