I had a bit of a revelation last night. Well, maybe it was more than a “bit” of a revelation. It was somewhat shocking, actually. One of those flashes of realization. When something inside of me broke. I hadn’t realized how hard I have been fighting to justify my existence. To prove I am worth at least a little bit of something. That people who judged me and found me wanting were wrong. But I guess I need to back up to try to explain. Last night, I was in worry mode, thinking about all the things that are hanging over my head and how badly I’ve managed my life. I never thought I would reach the age I am at currently and be $30,000 in debt with little hope of ever digging my way out of the hole. I never dreamed I would reach this point and not have any retirement. Not have a stable job. Or be alone. Completely, utterly alone. With no prospects of any relationships on the horizon, neither deep friendships nor a romantic partnership. I truly believed I would overcome the disadvantages I started with in my life. I believed that I would succeed. That the end of my life would be full and rich and very much worth living. That I would break free. So last night, I experienced a severe shock when I had the sudden revelation of how badly I had failed. I have not overcome. I have not succeeded. I am barely functioning. Barely hanging on. Barely making ends meet. My house of cards is precariously balanced and in danger of falling at any moment. The slightest breeze of trouble will destroy me. In the beginning, when I left home at 17, I looked forward with such great anticipation. I was taking the first step on a journey of putting the pieces of my heart back together after surviving a very destructive and abusive home environment. I was confident that I would succeed. I knew I was intelligent. Logical. Responsible. That, in my mind, made me capable and if I was capable, I would work hard and find a way. I had just come through hell! If I could get through that without losing my mind, surely I could fix what was broken and make a difference in the world. I got married when I was still 17. Then divorced. He didn’t love me. Didn’t see that I had any value. I wasn’t thin enough, cute enough, fun enough. I got depressed. I had quirks because of the things that had happened to me. I had issues. So after 3-1/2 years together, we parted company. I married again at age 25. This time, I was married for 22 years. But they were not happy years. He also didn’t love me and rejected me in a thousand ways on a hundred different levels. He knew how to show his disapproval with a single look. He didn’t want to know about any pain or darkness inside of me or difficulties I might be experiencing. Life was supposed to be light and fun and easy. I was not easy. I struggled. I was broken. I was messed up. What I discovered is this: intelligence is wonderful, but it doesn’t help you overcome depression and brokenness. In some ways, it can even make it harder to recover because you think you should be able to understand and fix whatever needs fixing. I felt like I should be able to put all the fragmented parts of my soul back together in working order. I thought I should be able to think my way out of the hole. But I couldn’t. Logic doesn’t help you process emotions either. It often presents a roadblock in that regard. And being responsible just meant I blamed myself for everything that was wrong with me. I blamed myself for doing wrong and for being wrong. For not being able to get over it at the snap of my fingers and leave it all safely behind. This entire time, through two marriages and 10 years alone since my ex left me, I have been fighting hard to prove that I could be worth something. I thought in doing so, I might finally be wanted, if not loved. That I might be cared for instead of only being tolerated. Being loved and cherished…well that was the dream. But simply being wanted would be wonderful! I could live with that. I felt that I could even heal in that environment. So I fought to be of value in hopes of being favored. I also wanted to prove to my parents that I was worth something. Even though they are long dead, I wanted to show them they were wrong about me. They used to tell me I could do anything I wanted to do and be successful. But if I mentioned something I wanted to do, they would say, “Well, you can do anything…except that…” I wanted to be a ballerina. “We can’t afford to spend money for lessons, so you can do anything except that.” I hoped to be an actress. “Hmmm, you’re not really that good. You can do anything, well, except that.” I wanted to be a singer-songwriter. “You don’t sound like Barbra Streisand, so you can do anything, but not that.” I wanted to be a model. “You’re too fat to be a model…you can do anything except that.” I wanted to be a writer. Same story. I wanted to be a counselor. Ditto. There was always a reason I couldn’t do what I desired to do. But beyond their words, there was the unspoken message. They treated me like an object. My father sexually abused me for years and years. Both of my parents hit me…not really beat me, but hit me, hard. A lot. They disregarded my needs , for medical care, dental care, love, protection, nurturing. They chided me mercilessly about how I failed them in a thousand ways. I wasn’t blonde enough, cute enough, smart enough, popular enough, sweet enough, obedient enough. I didn’t do enough work around the house. I didn’t make them feel fulfilled. I didn’t fix their life and make their world easier. Fail, fail, fail. So even though their words were on one level an encouragement (you can do anything), their treatment of me, their actions, their attitude toward me, totally invalidated what was spoken. The same way they told me they loved me, but treated me like a worthless piece of crap. Their words never matched their actions. It took me a very long time to see this. And I’m still trying to grasp and fully comprehend how this impacted me. So, all these years, I have had this little person inside of me, standing up on the inside of me who was defiantly challenging my worthlessness. Challenging my lack of value to those who were valuable to me. She was saying to herself, “Just you wait and see…I’ll show you that I’m worth something and then you’ll have to care about me!” Last night, in a flash of insight, I suddenly realized they were all right about me. I’m a failure. I am not worth anything. And in utter defeat, that little person stopped fighting. I have messed up everything I have touched. My jobs, my health, my finances, my mental health, my relationships…everything. Everything. Every. Single. Thing. While other people I went to school with have gone on to accomplish a lot of really great things, or at least good things, I have done nothing but struggle to hang on and survive. They have husbands and wives, kids, grandkids, good friends, family…connections. Lots and lots of critical, close, wonderful connections. I have none. Not one. Many of them have been so successful, they have already retired. I will NEVER be able to retire. I’m going to be very lucky indeed if I don’t wind up homeless on the street begging for change. I am that close to losing everything. My retirement savings were eaten up with bouts of unemployment. I wasn’t able to go to college, so I have no degrees to point to that give validation to my intellect. And without a degree, I am, in a business sense, worth nothing. I am always judged and found to be worthless. There is always something that disqualifies me from being worthy of love, care, connection. I’ve fought it. I’ve denied it. Refused to be labeled. Refused to give in. Until last night, when it all became clear and I realized they were all right. I am nothing. I have nothing to offer. I have failed. And I am a failure. Without worth or value. Nothing. I suppose I had hoped against hope, if I worked really hard and did enough things right, someone would come along who would look at me differently. They wouldn’t see a nothing. They would see a something and would value me…because to them, in spite of the mess and imperfection, there would be enough good to make me worth the effort. Which would transform me. And the transformation would heal me. Then my life would be worth living. Because I would be worth loving. And I would no longer be a nobody. The little person who was trying to prove everyone wrong wept last night, silent tears, as I watched numbly. I have no words of comfort for her. There isn’t anything left to say. The battle is over. And we lost. We failed. Those who judged me were right. I cannot exert enough effort to create change or become something of value. We remain nothing; she and I. Always and forever. Nothing. There will be no transformation.