Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Remembering Harmony, the Self-Esteem Bear

Growing up, I attended a small private school; actually, I attended MANY small private schools.  In one particular school, I was indirectly introduced to Harmony the Self-Esteem Bear. A program dealing with self-esteem via use of a BEAR puppet.  It was implemented briefly in a school I attended--though, it was not implemented in my grade at that particular time. For whatever reason, I was introduced to Harmony the Self-Esteem Bear.  Harmony's job was to teach children that they are special, loved and deserving.  Harmony educated children on self-esteem and as much as he could; he equipped children to cope with the everyday challenges of life.  As a young child, I remember feeling empowered through "Harmony the Self-Esteem Bear".

Part of "wearing my big girl pants" is acknowledging that my self-esteem and self-confidence, Harmony the Bear, has taken a beating over the last few years and then in turn, doing something about it.  Many people base their self-esteem on external factors, such as how much money they earn, how much they weigh and whether people like and appreciate them. If one of these external variables change, self-esteem can be broadly affected.  ALL OF THESE THINGS CHANGED FOR ME.  Pregnant with  each boy, for the most part, once I got past the first trimester I had easy EASY pregnancies.  I had nothing to complain about.  I didn't gain much weight, I wasn't reeeeeally uncomfortable, I never dealt with swelling, never had pregnancy pimples, no skin discoloration...however I did pee my pants every time I coughed, laughed, moved too quickly, yelled, got scared, was startled...sneezed...that is beside the point.  I really had no reason to complain while I was pregnant, things, for the most part, went really well.  That being said, I HATE BEING PREGNANT.  I loooove the labor and delivery, I love having children, oh my gosh, I HATE BEING PREGNANT.  It was mentally hard on me to see my body change, and have physical things, "external factors" impact how I felt about myself.  I felt like I had a moon face (for those of you who do not know what a moon face is when your once normal face becomes a huge round face...a huge round white ball looking much like the moon)

this is an ACTUAL picture of me...pregnant...

I felt oddly shaped, mentally incapable of having a conversation without instantly forgetting where that conversation was headed, had no control over my temper (which is normally bad, so this was HORRIBLE); I basically HATED everything about myself while I was pregnant.  After each pregnancy I lived in sweats (Jay pointed out that years ago, if a woman was wearing sweats it meant she was depressed...people thought something was wrong with that woman...THERE WAS something wrong with that woman.  Of course, that was a different time, but you get the idea). I felt gross, ugly, hated my hair, my clothes didn't fit me right, my body wasn't the same AND I had avoided any social interaction because of how I felt about myself physically, so on top of EVERYTHING I felt totally ALONE. Everyday life challenges were becoming harder and harder to deal with; each time I became pregnant the cycle started over again; and each time the cycle started over again, I would get further away from the teachings of "Harmony the Self-Esteem Bear"...knowing that I am special, loved and deserving...(that damn bear, how could I forget a BEAR puppet telling me he loves me?)  I didn't feel like I was special (no jokes). I didn't even feel ordinary.  I felt like I was weird, out of place, and alone.  I didn't feel loved.  I had a wonderful LOVING, patient husband who showed love to me constantly and naturally; he LOVED (and currently, loves) me.  I was blinded by my self-hate to recognize it; when I did recognize it I sure didn't believe it.  Deserving?  I felt like a worthless, pointless, empty skin bag.  

Now, I love being a wife and mommy and feel as though I am the best wife for Jay and the best mommy for my boys.  I work hard to show LOVE to my little family, and I LOVE doing so.  I am confident in being a wife and mommy.  But being a wife and mommy is, should be, about the husband and children...not about me.  SELF confidence, SELF-esteem, matters dealing with how I feel about MYSELF, I am FAILING at.  I let external factors effect how I felt and how I feel about myself.  Low self-esteem is often linked to depression and anxiety.  MY MIDDLE NAME IS ANXIETY, Vanessa Anxiety Iaquinta.  (I am not ready to say that I am "depressed"; I certainly have my down times BUT I am fully aware of the wonderful things I have in my life and allow these things to make me happy...when viewing the big picture, when ridding my mind of things that DON'T REALLY MATTER, I believe I am happy)  Self-loathing, self-doubt, a general DISREGARD for myself, feeling like a failure, setting myself up to feel alone all of these I struggle with (yet do not view myself as depressed...hmm); I thiiiiiink it is about time that it is dealt with.

According to Psych Central: Building your self-esteem and creating a positive self-awareness comes from taking an inventory of your own strengths and abilities as a human being. Being at peace with who you are and what you have to offer the world is a major part of having high self-esteem. This “inner peace” does not mean that you are unaware of your weaknesses; it merely means that you accept who you are and genuinely like the person you have become.

This is uncomfortable and awkward...oh hell, it's just flat out embarrassing.  Here is an inventory of my strengths...10 of them:

1.  Spontaneous
2.  Fun
3. Dedicated
4. Loyal
5. Transparent
6.  Excel during a crisis
7. A great listener
8.  Empathetic
9.  Encouraging
10.  Sincere

I don't know if anyone else has ever tried to write down their strengths as an individual, I found it is a VERY difficult task.  Please try it.

Through giving myself attention and proper maintenance, dressing daily and being social I have begun to re-experience the feeling I got through the teachings of Harmony the Bear; the feeling of "empowerment".   "Empowerment" refers to increasing strength of the individual. It often involves the empowered developing confidence in their own capacities.  Apparently, I am beginning to experience CONFIDENCE.  Great success?  My 365 days are not over yet.


Mkokopelli said...

You must read "The Power Of Now." I am almost finished reading and I think you will enjoy it. :)

And BTW- You LOOK amazing!! I WISH I had your body and strength... especially after having 3 boys! Mine is 4 and I ended up back at my post-pregnancy body. Yuck

It's just a shell protecting your inner layer- so all in all it doesn't matter. You have lots to be :) about. Think about that when you are down <3

Anonymous said...

Wow! Amaze! So real. Very good things! I'm proud of you.

Vanessa said...

Thanks Michelle! Thanks Anonymous!