I’ve heard that saying all my life. “He’s his own worst enemy!” “Can you believe what they did (or said)? They’re their own worst enemy!”
The meaning is pretty clear. The person being discussed keeps screwing up, making the wrong choices, doing exactly the opposite of what they should be doing if they were actually trying to move forward in a positive direction. If they wanted to do the smart thing and succeed. Exactly the opposite of what they presumably would do if they were trying to clean up the mess of their life.
I never really gave it much thought. To me, it has always meant making stupid choices. God knows, I made enough of them myself. I have far too much firsthand experience.
But then, I somehow saw beyond the surface definition and caught a glimpse of a bigger picture.
It happened like this.
Life has always been a battle for me. In every way and on every front. I read a few scriptures each day in my effort to connect with God as I try to convince myself I can trust Him. And I pray to be protected and delivered from my “enemies.”
“Rescue from the mire, do not let me sink; deliver me from those who hate me…”
“Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me.”
“Rescue me from my enemies, for I hide myself in You…In your unfailing love, silence my enemies, destroy all my foes…”
“My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and those who pursue me.”
As I was reading and praying, it slowly dawned on me.
I am my own worst enemy. I am basically praying against myself. I’m praying for God to destroy me.
I get so angry with myself for not being perfect. For not even being close to being perfect or acceptable. For not being able to live up to “normal” standards. For being weird. I disgust myself when I make a dumb mistake or overlook something I should have seen that was right in front of me. I judge myself harshly, both at work and personally. I judge my body, my appearance, my lack of social skills and lack of financial success. I reject myself because I have become old, and therefore “less than” those who are young and beautiful. I hate myself because I never found a way to go to college, so I feel inferior to those who have a degree, in spite of all I have learned through experience and through hard lessons or personal study. I hate myself because I’ve never been able to overcome the abuse of my childhood. I’m still messed up and I know it. I judge myself and chide myself for being unlovable, broken, defective. I tell myself it’s unrealistic to expect anyone to want or care for me. I see my imperfections as glaring and those imperfections have sentenced me to a life of emptiness. I am appalled at my many failings and utter unworthiness.
Oh, I work hard. I try to succeed. I try to be a “good” person and do the right things. I try to redeem myself as best I can. But underneath all of that, I know I’m nothing and I hate myself for being nothing.
And it is in hating myself, in rejecting myself, that I have become my own worst enemy.
I have read before that the difference between people who are loved and those who aren’t is simply that those who are loved believe they are worthy of being loved. I’ve read that the difference between people who are valued and those who are not is that those who are valued believe they have value and should be valued by others. This has always made me angry. Because how can you understand that you are worth loving if you have never been loved? If all you have known is rejection and being weighed and found wanting, how can you find it in yourself to believe that everyone is wrong about you and that you actually deserve to be treasured? How can you know you have worth if all you have known is being told and shown in a million different ways that you are worthless?
The concept is the same no matter how it is applied. If you don’t believe you are worth loving, you will never be loved. And because you have never been loved, you will never believe that you are in any way lovable or worth loving. In the same way, when you hate yourself, you are working against yourself and continually tearing yourself down. You will never believe you are worth accepting because you genuinely hate and reject yourself and believe you are deserving of being hated and rejected. As a result, when you pray your enemies will be defeated, you are actually praying for God to destroy you, because you are the biggest enemy of your own soul.
I want to be loved. I want to be found lovable. I want to experience life fully; a life that is worth living. I want to be able to find something worth loving within myself so I can have a life that is worth living. But all my efforts have failed.
I am my own worst enemy. I am destroying myself from within. And I don’t know how to change my belief, my viewpoint, my destiny. And so, every prayer I pray is an arrow that pierces me directly through my heart.
I don’t know how to stop the destruction because I don’t know how to change what I believe. I don’t know how to see myself differently. I don’t know how to believe I have value. And so I don’t.
I want to stop undermining and destroying myself. But in my heart of hearts, I believe I am worthy of nothing but destruction. Therefore, I continue to shred myself to pieces and lay myself to waste, just as any enemy would do. I take advantage of my vulnerable places; I know where all the tender spots reside. I despise myself because that is all I have known; all I have been shown. I carry on where others left off.
I am my own worst enemy. A relentless, bitter enemy…to the core.