How a Bottle of Lotion Reminded Me of My Self-Worth

Dear readership,

You’ll have to excuse the middle school angst vibes of this post and hear me out for a second while I make my point… today I found an old, forgotten bottle of lotion under a pile of random stuff in my room and decided to use it to moisturize my legs after I showered (lotion doesn’t expire, does it? Hopefully not, because this bottle was no spring chicken). Anyway, no sooner than I started applying it, I felt an immediate dip in my mood/self-esteem. I suddenly felt like I was an annoying person who wasn’t worthy of anyone’s time or attention and that I didn’t have anything meaningful to contribute to the world. I felt ugly, insecure, and incredibly anxious. I was about ready to burn the bottle and take a second shower to try to scrape the residue of the evil, sadness-infused lotion off of my body when I suddenly realized what had possessed me: the smell.

I used to use this lotion a lot when I was involved with a guy who made me feel all of those things about myself and I usually put some on before I saw him. The lotion made me feel so bad because my nose decided to teleport my brain back to a much darker time in the life of self-perceived Sierra. Once I consciously made the connection, the gut reaction began to fade and it was just lotion again. I have to say, the viscerally powerful link between smell and memory will never cease to amaze me. Even before I remembered the connection, my body felt it and I think that is super cool. More importantly, I was given the chance to accurately see how incredibly far I have come since then. That excruciating moment of self-loathing was almost unbearable and it’s how I used to feel about myself all of the time– Like I was barely tolerable at best. 

It was so eye-opening because back then I was convinced that I was happy. I had no idea what happiness had the potential to feel like when you’re with someone who values you or, more importantly, when you value yourself. When I was with that guy I viewed myself and what I could be through the lens of his eyes and he made it VERY clear that I didn’t amount to much. After that relationship ended, I learned the life-changing technique of looking at myself — I mean REALLY looking at myself– through Christ’s eyes. To him my worth is limitless and through him I am capable of anything. It was a slow journey to start to see myself that way and some days I still forget to do it, but when you see yourself the way someone who is willing to die for you sees you, you begin to realize all that you are and can be. That realization of worth became all the more real when I started to date someone who saw it too and who refuses to let me think poorly of myself.

The moral of this story is twofold.

1) You never know what ghosts from your past are going to pop up when you clean your room or how they’ll derail your productivity with introspection. Proceed with caution.

2) I matter. You matter. Remember that you matter. Surround yourself with people who remind you that you matter, and until you find them, remember that the same God who created the universe thought you mattered enough to die for. I think we in the Christian world say, “God thought you were worth dying for” too often so we tend to take it for granted. But stop right now and think about it. That makes you pretty dang worthy, doesn’t it?

Incredible.

Until next time,

Adieu

Men Are People Too

Dear Readership,

Wowzers! Did I ever drop the ball on blogging over Christmas break. I’m sure you were heartbroken, but have no fear! I’m back.

I imagine you’re all tentatively scrolling with your trigger finger delicately posed on judgment blasters, just waiting for a post like this with a title like that to be political (maybe even a #metoo story). It’s not. Maybe it could be, but really it’s more of a writer’s block confession.

I have, for the past two or three weeks, been trying to write a post about my recent encounter with what I am 96.5% sure were alien lifeforms undercover at the world’s most perfect (i.e. too perfect) gas station. I have some pretty rock-solid evidence, but I guess it’s a post for another day because every time I sat down to write it, it was choked out by another story. My story?

I have always struggled with being comfortable around men. I mean, always. From neighbors to family friends, classmates to strangers, waiters to cashiers, even some of my own friends–they’ve all made me uncomfortable at one time or another. All through high-school my palms would sweat and my heart would race if my friend’s dads or brothers tried to converse with me. My freshman year I asked to please be placed on an all-girls floor (which didn’t happen). My sophomore year I had a panic attack every time I went to see my university assigned male therapist (no, the irony of that is not lost on me). And any time a male professor called on me I forgot how to string words into sentences (ask me about how I’ve made a total ass of myself every time my favorite professor has endeavored to speak to me. It’s a real cringer). Somewhere along the way though, it got better. And then somewhere in the last two months it got infinity worse again. I’m jumpy, paranoid, and unsocial. I have opted to stand in long grocery lines to avoid the open registers of male clerks, I’ve walked to class so I don’t have to say hi to the bus driver, and I’ve washed dishes at a party (more than once) so I didn’t have to mingle.

Do I know why I’ve relapsed? No, not really. Am I tired of being afraid? Very. Men are just people. Just half the people in existence. Half of the people in my life. People I have to talk to and interact with.

If I’m being honest, this post is more for me than you. I’m trying to figure it out too. I can trace different threads of potential triggers — going through periods of high strain on my relationship with my father, being in past relationships with guys who needed to be told ‘no’ before I realized I had the voice to say it, being objectified or grabbed by strangers, enduring belittling comments from men I didn’t have the energy to argue with, etc. etc. etc.. I guess those are all valid reasons to explain my anxiety, but they’re not new reasons and they don’t explain the last few months of renewed fear. They don’t explain why I can’t sleep; why I’ve been anxious; why I’m fearful about going outside at night; or why I’m perpetually afraid of being followed. Those are not normal things to feel, and yet they’re my norm. I do feel a little better after having it all written out, but I don’t feel any closer to understanding what’s going on or why.

Anyway, that’s me these days. That’s the reason I haven’t been writing. Every funny or clever thing I wanted to say has been dammed up behind  a whole big lump of fear that I don’t know how to deal with and can’t avoid. I was sort of hoping that if I went ahead and acknowledged my problem then my anxiety would politely tip its hat and amble on its merry way to ruin someone else’s creative energy. Fingers crossed that that’s still what happens and I’ll be back to writing soon. I guess we’ll see.

Until next time,

Adieu