Writing about my value and worth is much more difficult than noting what I don’t deserve. It’s easy for me to be hard on myself.
But, I can list a number of tangible things that I’m proud of: my daughter, that I bought a house at age 27, my career, a published paper, helping my sister financially through vet school and her wedding. These tangibles are the outcomes of the intangibles.
The intangibles are what is important. The intangibles are the things I want to model for my daughter.
For her sake, I will give it a shot to feel worthy. Let’s start with my sense of humor. I just messaged my husband a link to the 2013 scifi movie, Chupacabra vs. the Alamo, starring Erik Estrada as our next, “We must watch this movie,” movie. I also introduced my daughter to the glory that is LL Cool J and Run-D.M.C. this morning. I can be fun and playful, even when living through trauma and chaos.
My husband calls me his rock, and I have been referred to as his “true north.” I take these as descriptions of my strength and integrity. While I sometimes doubt my strength, I will confirm that I hold myself to a high standard of conduct, and I do not doubt my unwavering integrity. As for my strength, I am far tougher than I often think. I have withstood a US Marine with PTSD-induced rage and alcoholism, and I have not conceded. I am mighty. I stepped up when I was simultaneously scared and angry, snapped out of freeze mode, and dragged my husband to the V.A., saving his life from alcohol poisoning. I drove him to rehab this summer, and I stood my ground about sober living. I held my boundary despite his wish to come home, his mother’s wish for him to come home, and a veteran’s organization urging me to give in and let him come home.
I’m not a fan of trying the same thing repeatedly.
I modeled resiliency and mightiness for my daughter this summer after my husband’s relapse. I did not cancel or postpone our previously scheduled epic vacation. Instead, I took her by myself to the Pacific Northwest where we drove all over Washington and B.C. We hiked, hiked, and hiked some more, swam in the pacific, and learned about First Nation’s history. It was not your typical “mom vacation.” I have repeatedly and demonstrably acted in good faith with my family’s best interest at the forefront.
I am kind. That is usually the first adjective people use to describe me. I’m a sucker for a small animal and have provided a good home to many strays over the years. I give not one, but multiple chances to people. I listen. I give of my time to organizations I believe in, and also step up when a friend is in need of an ear, a meal, or help with child care. I usually lead with compassion, so much so that I have to pull it back sometimes. I have to remind myself that sometimes kind is not nice. Kindness took my husband to the V.A. for help when he was suicidal. Kindness overrode my desire to punch my husband, and instead, I drove him to rehab. Kindness holds my tongue and reminds me that he didn’t become an alcoholic overnight, and he won’t magically recover overnight – that he can’t feel joy right now, not through his own fault, but because of his alcohol-warped brain chemistry. Kindness reminds me that my in-laws are coping with crippling grief and terrible fear for their son and brother. If anything, I need to extend that kindness to the one person I hold to the highest standard.
I am a smart, flexible and enthusiastic learner. They don’t give chemistry degrees to dummies. I’m always interested in, and up for, a new learning challenge, whether it be a new analytical chemistry method, First Nation’s history, surfing, scuba, or learning to play soccer at age 25. I can quote multiple Star Wars movies, and fellow geeks have learned that I am a Tolkien encyclopedia.
I can fail and get on with it. Coaching middle school basketball was not a life skill I mastered.
If it sounds like I’m trying to convince myself, I am. I’m trying to learn to see myself the way I see my daughter – as a unique and interesting person that I am fortunate to have in my life. How privileged I am to see her grow and develop. I’m trying to be proud of my own growth and development. I need to listen to my own advice to my daughter…
I love you because you are.
If you are the loved one of an alcoholic, and you could use some support recovering to remember just how worthy you are, please consider joining us in Echoes of Recovery.