With the place I’ve been in lately (spoiler alert: a really bad one), I’ve been searching for answers. It hasn’t been a perfectly linear journey, but the things I have found have been eye-opening.

Case in point: this wonderful, wonderful blog post from Therapy Beyond the Couch. It walks you through an exercise about your “deepest wound”–the darkest fears you harbor. After stripping yourself of the suit of armor you wear (descriptors you use for yourself, what you take pride in about yourself), what is left underneath?

For me, I would call myself passionate, ambitious, hard-working, articulate, intelligent, and devastatingly hilarious. Once upon a time, I would even call myself confident and attractive, like the girl in the post does herself. I am studying for a career field I actually want. I’m making improvements on a personal and professional level. I am striving toward accomplishments in various aspects of my life. I was so happy when I made those changes, too! I thought success was basically equatable to happiness, but I’ve proven that to be incredibly false.

So I’m not my accomplishments. According to this exercise, I’m not even the adjectives I use to describe myself. Who am I then?

That answer is not so simple because it all comes back to the deepest wound.

I think I know what mine is. My eyes welled up with tears as I read the original blog post. They overflowed for several minutes. I always hide from it because I’m an INTELLIGENT woman, okay? I’ve DONE stuff, you hear me? I’m GOING PLACES, damnit! Listen to me! I am SUCCESSFUL AND HAPPY, you ASSHOLES!!!!!

I’m afraid I’m not good enough. I’m afraid I’m not enough. Period. If I don’t have accomplishments to point to, goals that I’ve met, tasks that I’ve crossed off the list, what do I have to show for myself? I am literally asking myself this because I do not know. How else do people evaluate their self-worth? Or–hah, get a load of this–am I supposed to just believe I’m inherently worthy of love and validation?

I need proof. I need empirical data. I need the cold, hard facts to back up those cutesy, bullshit affirmations. Oh, I’m loveable, huh? Oh, okay. SURE. Based on what?

The blog post tells you how to connect with and release your deepest wound. I don’t know what mine wants. I don’t know how to make it better. I don’t know how to overcome this. It’s going to take a lot of work, like every other damn thing I’ve learned about myself. I’d like to stop learning and start actually changing. But change on this level, with regards to healing trauma and hauling around a mental illness or two, is like being given all the tools and materials to build a house, but having no training or blueprints to build.

So, naturally, I think I should do for my mental health what I would do in that house-building situation. Pay someone else more educated than me to deal with it.

Until I’m in a place to do that, how do I deal? By working my ass off at my job to prove my worthiness, of course! Look, I don’t have any other options right now. It’s either do that or crumble into a ball of anxiety, dread, and self-hatred. At least with the good work ethic I can ignore all the anxiety, dread, and self-hatred until after work.

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