I was bullied growing up. There was something about having red hair and glasses that seemed to make me a target. I didn’t look like the other boys who got the girls’ attention. Oh how I desperately wanted that attention. “What’s wrong with me?” I would ask myself. “Am I defective?” “Am I that bad?” What was it about me that made certain kids want to verbally and, at times, physically assault me?
Over the years, I got really good at detecting danger. I have vivid memories of the terror I would feel when I knew something bad was going to happen. I never wanted to fight. But at some point I had to decide if I was going to take another beating or stand up for myself. I had to face the question, “Am I worth fighting for?”
To this day I struggle with insecurity. I’m thankful I don’t have to worry about physical fights anymore. Most, if not all, the fighting I do now takes place in my heart and mind. I often find myself wrestling with the same question, “Am I worth fighting for?” I have spent decades looking to others to answer this question for me. I have spent the same amount of time finding ways to self-medicate when I didn’t know the answer.
I am married to a beautiful woman who loves me and wants to be with me. I have three amazing kids who want to have a relationship with me. I have 2.3 advanced degrees. (That’s a whole other story.) I left my first career and am now working in my dream job. Yet, I still hear that voice whispering in my ear… “No one will ever really love you. It’s only a matter of time until they hurt you.”
It is a feeling I have tried to avoid my entire life. At some point I learned that if I could control and manage what other people see, I could mask my hurt. What I didn’t know was that it would turn into a battle with codependency that haunts me to this day.
I am learning that the scared boy of my childhood is still alive in me today. Sadly, I have exiled him to a far away place. Sometimes I am aware of his presence peering around the corner, wanting to be embraced and loved. But I have been quick to turn the other way. I have spent most of my life treating that boy the way the bullies treated him. I have shamed him, tried to ignore him, and asked him, “What’s wrong with you?” “Why can’t you be different?”
For the first time in my life I am learning to face my fear of being hurt. I am choosing to live life on life’s terms and accept the fact that not everyone is going to like me. This process is pushing me beyond the limits of what I thought was possible, but it’s worth it. I am worth it. You are worth it.
So, my answer is, yes, I AM worth fighting for! I have to keep saying it to myself because it doesn’t always feel true, but just because it doesn’t feel true doesn’t mean it’s not true. I am learning to accept that awkward, adolescent boy of my youth. He is still alive and well within me, and the more I invite him in, the more my heart feels full.
It’s possible we all struggle with this to some degree. We exile certain parts of who we are because we are afraid they might be rejected. We have all, at times, put on different masks in order to be who we think others want us to be. We have all learned to blend into the status quo of life so we can belong. Even the parts that may be labeled as “bad” or “dysfunctional” have been born out of deep places in our heart that want to be loved and accepted.
If any of this resonates with you, we are here to help. My hope is you come to realize that you, too, are worth fighting for!