What is it about a person that makes them a person?  That makes them someone who is valuable? Who has worth?  What makes you a person of value?
Is it what you do?  How kind you are?  How much character you have?  How much you contribute to the betterment of the world in general?  How much money you make?  How you treat your family?  Whether or not you go to church?  How you look and dress?  How educated you are?  How much you accomplish in your career?  How much you give back to society?  How much wisdom you have accumulated?  How honest you are?
Or is it more a matter of how many people you know find you to be special, interesting, unique, wonderful, beautiful and…valuable.  Do they look at your soul and stand in wonder and awe at the beautify they find there, thus making you a person, one who has value?  And if that never happens, does that mean you are not a person and that you have no value?
Or is it simply a matter of the fact that you are a member of the human race?  Person-hood is bestowed upon you, as such, and because you were born human, you have a certain amount of innate value and worth?  Inalienable rights and all that.
In my experience, I have found that most people believe they have value.  They genuinely believe and know they have a fair amount of worth and are quite solid in their belief that they are, indeed, without doubt, a person.  It doesn’t even matter if others think they have value, although it’s nice if they do.  They value themselves.   They rest in and are assured of their significance.  If someone treated them like an object, they would certainly be highly offended and pretty darned angry.  They would demand an apology.  And if they didn’t get one, they would likely not have anything to do with the person or people who didn’t treat them properly.  They would think those people who mistreated them had a problem, never once questioning their own worth.  It would never occur to them that they might not have any!  How silly of a thought would that be? 
I wish I could be more like most people.  But those of us who have been abused don’t know we are a person like everyone else is a person.  We don’t know if we have worth or value.  The only way we can feel validated is when we perform well.  And even then, our value is fleeting.
I grew up believing I was an object.  I was supposed to take care of and fulfill my parents.  Make their life better; make it worth living.  I didn’t have any worth in and of myself.  My value came from doing what I was told, performing well, making good grades, making my parents look good, cleaning up the house, being a dutiful daughter.  I failed miserably far too many times.  In fact, I rarely managed to live up to the standard. I couldn’t get the dishes clean enough to satisfy or dust well enough to placate them.  I wasn’t pretty enough.  Or popular enough.  If I made all A’s, I should have made A+’s.  No matter how hard I tried, I was never good enough.  I could never do enough to justify my existence.  That’s because, at the core, I was defective.  I didn’t have any value.  I was only as good as what I could do and how well I could make my parents feel good about themselves and their life.
This point was driven home over and over again.  But nothing drove it into my heart quite as well as being sexually used and abused by my father.  When you are a child and you beg, plead and cry, imploring your father not to do the things to you that he is doing, only to be completely, absolutely, totally ignored, it sends a message that shatters your soul.  One that you never forget.  One that you may never recover from.  You are NOTHING.  You mean NOTHING.  You don’t matter.  At all.  You are an object to be used and discarded.  Worthless.  You exist only to please and if you cease to please me, all value you might have had is gone.  Poof.
My counselor tells me the message isn’t true.  That I am a person, just like everyone else is a person.  That I do matter, if to no one else, then to God.  I suppose this should be a comforting thought, but it isn’t.  Deep in my heart, in the rivers and canyons of my being, at the core of my soul, I don’t believe it.  I’m trying to be open-minded and examine the thought.  But it’s not finding fertile ground.  I still feel utterly worthless.  And I have a zillion experiences that reinforce this belief.
I’m still trying to sort it out.  Trying to understand whether I have value even though none of the significant people in my life have ever valued me.  Even though I was raised as an object, whose duty it was to fulfill my parents or husband or employer or friends.  And because I didn’t do that, I didn’t matter.  Didn’t have worth. Like a fool, I am still hoping someone will prove me wrong.  I am still hoping someone will look at me and see a treasure instead of all the broken pieces and ugly wounds.  What are the odds?  Astronomical!!!  It’s complete foolishness!  But here I am, still longing for someone to show me I have some value.  Still longing for someone to find me worthy of existing.  Of loving.  But yet, I can’t even treasure myself.  And if I can’t find anything within me to cherish, doesn’t it stand to reason that there is simply nothing worthwhile there?  Doesn’t this mean my parents were right?  And that it is completely right for me to be alone and unloved?  When you come down to it, according to the laws of the universe, wouldn’t this mean I have no worth? 
And if I have no worth, if I am truly not a “real” person who is loveable and wonderful in my strange way, do I have anything to live for?  Anything at all?
The silence is deafening.

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