I'm Not Worth Protecting

This was the message I got over and over again; as a little girl, as a teenager, as a young woman, and as a fully grown woman with a career (okay, a few careers), and a full life of serving clients, raising two active, determined and incredible sons. Navigating life with my husband and children, walking through the days and years, growing closer as a family, simultaneously growing as a woman.

The day it really sank in, I mean deep, in my bones through my veins all the way to my soul sank in was like every other day. I was in Florida working on a book with my friend Mike, talking through some stories when I realized the lie I had believed for way to long. “I’m not worth protecting.”

From the earliest days of my childhood, the message I got from my parents was one of unworthiness. It was as if my mere existence was toxic to them. By simply having the audacity to breathe in and out I had ruined their lives, and they did not hide their deep dissatisfaction with this reality. I grew up navigating their moods, willing myself small enough to fit in the cracks and crevices when their rage and depression took up the entire house.

So as a child, my truth, the heart of my pain, the one thing I could always come home to was: I’m not worth protecting. I am not worthy.

As I grew older, I lived a life seeking validation that I was worth something. Hunger so deep to be validated that I would take any scrap thrown my way. I would shovel forkfuls of contempt and resentment into my face and feel the cold, insidious nourishment rush, ice cold, down the back of my throat, through my chest, spreading into my veins and landing hard in my gut. I would finish what I’d been served and promptly ask for seconds, even thirds; even when what I was being given was bitter and stale threatening my very soul.

Of course there were others that tried to speak a greater truth into my life; one of wholeness, of being enough, of beauty and strength and love and grace. How the hearts of those loved ones must have broken watching me turn away from their outstretched arms. The darkness I had been raised in became more real to me than their light. It consumed and covered me like the unfamiliar sheets of a stranger’s bed. Their words became meaningless to me. I wanted to believe them, could even, for a moment, but never for long. Because the truth I’d come to know would be there to whisper in my ear “Silly girl, do you really believe that’s true? You know better. You’re not worth protecting.”

The saddest part of the lie to me was my belief that it was true. Looking back (we all know that is way easier) I can see that it was a lie that two very broken and mentally unhealthy people fed to me. Some how, those lies attached themselves to me as if they were my favorite jeans.

What I’ve learned through years of study, work and relationships, is that this is an epidemic. I am not alone in this feeling. As Stasci and John Eldredge point out in Captivating; this voice of unworthiness has sunk its teeth into every aspect of our culture. As women, we wonder “Am I enough?” Am I pretty enough? Am I smart enough? Am I thin enough? Obedient enough? Successful enough? And on the other side of the same coin, “Am I too much?” Do I feel too much? Am I too successful? Am I too big? Too small? Too plain?

All of us are too much of some things, and not enough of almost everything else. It is as rare as that giant gemstone from the Titanic to see a woman who recognizes and believes that she is just enough as she is. Many women know this in their minds, but to believe it is something else entirely. What happens when a woman recognizes and chooses to believe her worth?

The moment a woman believes she is worthy, she is unstoppable!

What I have learned, and what I am still learning, is that we as women need to have these essential questions answered. Am I enough? Am I worthy? Am I lovely? All too often, the answer is no. From the world, our parents, our partner and friends. I am here to tell you that every person, every moment, every experience that has told you that you are unworthy, that you are not lovely, and that you are not enough is a lie. The real truth will not be found in your darkness.

Turn your face to the truth and let the beauty of that sink in! Turn your eyes to a perfect sunset or your favorite flowers, a kitten’s soft whiskers against your cheek or the perfect curve of a baby’s ear. The beautiful way your lover drinks you in with a single gaze. Turn your ear to those who speak of your gifts, your wild and undeniable beauty, your fierce and fiery spirit, and your powerful voice.

While I know it may take a million voices over a thousand years, let me be one of them to say:

You are lovely. You are enough. You are worth protecting!

*A special thank you to all of you who continually help me grow, love and protect me!! To say you are rock stars is an understatement!

Theresa Gaser