My Partner’s Criticisms of Me are Leading to Low Self Esteem (I Think)
I definitely have it.
But what is it anyway? I had to look it up. From Wikipedia: “Self-esteem is a term used in psychology to reflect a person’s overall emotional evaluation of his or her own worth.”
I guess in my own mind I don’t have a very high value of myself.
Why would that be? I’m just great, right? I’m a good person, right? I do my best to be honest, be a good friend and lover, not over-spend, be courteous and maintain a healthy weight.
But sometimes I don’t do these things. Sometimes I hate myself for doing all the things I wish I didn’t. Interrupting people, not being patient, white lies, too much wine, skipping the gym.
I had to stop to think – what do I “believe” about myself?
I had to think about this one. I had to work out where my beliefs about myself came from – so where to start? One source said: “Beliefs about ourselves are learned as a result of the experiences we have had in our lives, especially our early life experiences. Often, the beliefs we have about ourselves are conclusions we arrive at based on what has happened in our lives.”
I don’t think that I have negative beliefs about myself, but I must – the beliefs must be there somewhere. I am realising this because lately my partner has been very critical of me – like extremely critical. For the last four weeks he has been tearing me apart, almost nightly, telling me what an awful person I am, for hours at a time.
This has made me realise that I have low self esteem because he is not the first partner to do this to me – in fact it’s a bit of a pattern now. The other day when I was sitting on the couch and my partner was calling me a liar and saying that I had absolutely no spiritual values whatsoever and that I could not be trusted. That he thought I was a violent, selfish person who cared only about herself.
This was not one fight.
This is non-stop. For four weeks.
I now feel so low that my immune system is down. I am constantly tired and I am covered in bruises and I haven’t been wearing heels or washing my hair enough. I feel like a slob. I am not looking after myself.
SO WHAT ARE BELIEFS ABOUT OURSELVES: “Our experiences in our childhood, family of origin, the society we lived in, schools we went to, and with our peers have influenced our thoughts and beliefs about all sorts of things, including ourselves. If we have arrived at very negative thoughts and beliefs about ourselves, it is likely that we have encountered a variety of negative experiences that might have contributed to this.” (source)
So have I encountered some negative experiences?
I would say that yes, I have.
I have constantly sought out partners who have diminished me, who have called me names and who have laid their own feelings of inadequacy onto me.
I once dated a really rich guy. He had three matching black Porches and a hangar at an airport filled with planes and helicopters. He had money, but he was also very unsure of his prowess as man – hence the big boys’ toys. He would be extremely critical about how I looked; about my hair, my clothes, my makeup and even little things like having smooth soles on my feet and manicured toes. As I was so eager to please, I did everything he asked, and still felt inadequate.
We dated on and off for five years. In this time I went from a bright-eyed 23 year old to a 28 year old who was beneath his regard. I knew that he could never love me because he didn’t love himself.
It took me years to move on from that relationship.
I am a bit shocked now because I am older and supposedly wiser, but I have fallen into the same trap again. I feel that I am just allowing my current partner to berate me the way I internally berate myself, day in day out.
And I tell myself that I love him – but maybe I am just in love with the pain.