I’m not very good at communicating when I’m going through a tough time. I tend to ignore what makes me feel bad and focus on the better parts of a situation because it’s easier than admitting I feel vulnerable and hurt. It’s not something I do consciously, it’s just an automatic reaction to protect myself from people who might hurt me more… besides, I can rarely justify to myself talking about what’s going on in my life because everyone else has their own problems. I like to help other people with their problems vastly more than I like to confront my own, but I’ve been realizing that I’m approaching the point where if I continue to do that, I’ll probably explode. So hi, my name is Katlyn Lindstrom, and I am grieving and hurting.
These past few weeks have left me extremely reflective. I’m in the process of stitching up years-old battle wounds and repairing broken self-esteem from a long-term relationship that had run its course. Being surrounded on either side by two major endpoints of my life has caused me to look at what got me to those endpoints and the new beginning I am now standing on. Fighting to regain confidence in myself has made me realize that I haven’t allowed myself to have too much of it to begin with… which made me realize that might be why I often end up with the guy who makes me question myself even more. That’s not to say they’ve been bad guys necessarily– in fact, with the exception of a couple they were all perfectly fine– just bad for me.
Giving credit where credit is due is something I struggle with in regards to myself. I tend to vastly downplay my successes and focus on my shortcomings because those always seem exponentially more present. We’re always up close and personal with the things we think are wrong with ourselves, so it’s often easy to pay more attention to them. Focusing on what I perceive as my flaws keeps me from celebrating what I’m doing right and keeps me from celebrating myself. Because I have lacked faith that I have the power to believe in myself, I have left it up to other people to provide the self-assurance I don’t find within me. The problem is, self-assurance comes from you and no one else.
Giving someone else the power to control my self-esteem (and me) has surrounded me with people who love what they want, reject what they don’t, and who take more confidence than they give. Most of the time, I’d like to think it’s not something consciously done… like I said, most guys in my life have been perfectly good people. I have sometimes been treated as a “fix-it” project because of the insecurities I’ve clung to, but I’m not a project. I am a person.
I am also a creature of habit, so once I’m in a relationship, I tend to stay vastly past the expiration date. Particularly because my past romantic endeavors (of which there haven’t been too many) have fizzled rather than exploded, it’s been difficult to see when the point of release should come. I stick with what’s familiar and comfortable, but that familiarity is often what has caused me trouble. I become comfortable with being kept in a certain position and familiar with feeling like the significantly inferior partner. Most of the time, I don’t even notice what’s going on, I just notice the gradual onset of a deeper unhappiness whose origin I can’t pinpoint.
This time around, it took me a lot less time than normal to figure out that my relationship wasn’t working. Given the chance to distance myself from it has shown me how deeply my self-esteem was affected and how important it is for me to change the way I look at myself. I had come to believe that the only success I could ever achieve needed to be tied to his in some way, which is not something that I wanted to believe. To see myself becoming someone who doubts what she brings to the table and doubts her abilities was to see myself as someone I did not want to be, so I had to make a change. It meant letting go to comfort, familiarity, and many happy memories, but it also meant the chance to regain my whole self and learn to love who she is… because that’s the starkest problem I have come to see. I have not loved myself how I deserve to be loved, so I have not been with people who can do that either.
There are so many pressures surrounding us to be a certain person or a certain version of ourselves, and I have (unfortunately) been listening to a lot of them. Instead of loving myself as myself, I have rejected myself for who I was not. There will always be a person that I’m not, but I’ll always be me. Katlyn Lindstrom, though, is someone only I can be… so it’s time to start being her and celebrating her. I tell the people in my life about the importance of loving themselves and believing in themselves all the time, but I have never believed myself worthy of the same advice. I’ve always just accepted that as okay, but it’s never okay to feel anything but love for yourself. It’s never okay to be sure of everyone else but not sure about yourself, because you’re the only one who sticks with you for your whole life. Loving other people and being kind to them is important, but it’s important to remember that you’re a person worthy of love and kindness too. I have lost sight of that.
This year has already got me excited about what’s to come. When I look forward, I see a future full of opportunities and experiences that I can’t wait to grab onto, and I am finally reminding myself that I am completely able to reach any of those that I want to. I’m finding the ways I can achieve my own success without feeling that I have to latch onto anyone else’s. I’m learning how to change my perspective to see the successes more than the shortcomings, and remembering that I am a person just as deserving of being heard and feeling feelings as anyone else. I am not impervious to the complications of being human, and letting myself express that is something I’m learning to do.
So yes, I am hurt. Some days, the pain of what went wrong is more than the joy that comes with the freedom to be simply myself. Sometimes, I hear the echos of being told I am not enough to be sure of… sometimes, I feel myself listen. There are days when I wake up and think “who are you to feel beautiful or capable?” when I look in the mirror. Some days, I only see what’s wrong. But other days, it’s as if I have never had a pain in my life. I remember that no one can tell me I am not enough as long and make me listen or believe it as I’m enough for myself. I look in the mirror and think “you are beautiful and you are capable, go take on the world.” Those days, I take what’s wrong and remind myself how it’s allowed me to reach what’s right. Every day, I remember to love myself as much as possible. One day someone else can, too.