JUAN'S STORY:

To the person dealing with lack of self value

This is something I have kept, not secret, but hidden almost my entire life. At least as far back as I can remember. I did not love myself. Not like how some people look in the mirror and hate the way they look and want to lose weight or change their eating. Not in the way that some people choose to have elective surgery to change the way their nose is shaped. No. It is something much, much stronger than that. It was a lack of self-worth.

Someone has always been telling me that the universe or god or fate, whatever it is you wish to call it, has a plan for all of us. A lesson for us to learn while we are on this physical plane. I wanted to change the world. I wanted to be a leader and bring people together to achieve something GREAT. Great…not hey great party yesterday, great as in the great wall of china great. Someone also has told me that you are a product of your environment.

I moved to the United States when I was 6 years old, into an area dominated by white Americans. Once I started school, it was obviously difficult to make friends until I learned English well enough to have conversations. I dealt with racist remarks, ignorance, bigotry and ostracism solely on the fact that I looked differently or that I had an accent. I never made a big deal of it, very rarely acting out in anger or hate towards anyone but it affected me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but from a very young age until recently, I have slowly closed my true self off from the world. Even my own mother couldn’t get to me, but as an outsider looking in, you would have been none the wiser.

Growing up I was always goofing off, trying to make people laugh and be entertaining, I lashed out at school and at home, which led my mom and stepdad to “punish me” with “spankings”, it didn’t help, probably made it worse. I didn’t care about the things I wanted for myself or my responsibility. I only cared about what people thought of me, to not let people down about when they needed me or expected me to be somewhere. I found myself doing things I didn’t want to do simply because my friends were there and I didn’t want to miss anything. I always gave great attention to others, serving without thought, giving without expecting anything in return. I thought I was happy. Then it happened. I was 14 years old when I went back to the Dominican for the first time since I left, and the only time since. When I got off the plane and saw my aunts and uncles, I cried. Out of happiness and sadness. I had spent so much time trying to fit in at home I completely ignored my family there, hell I had even forgotten most of my Spanish from not ever using it because I was being made fun off for my list. It was extremely bitter sweet. Although that was an amazing vacation for the time, I almost wish I never went. After I came back I was starting 8th grade.

I started playing sports more seriously which helped, always has. On the field of play what you are outside the uniform doesn’t matter only what you accomplish on the field. Still, depression was setting in, building from my pre-teen years, and boiling over during my trip to the DR, it was now stronger than ever. Yet, I didn’t know what I was dealing with, I figured this is how all kids feel. It is not. At least for the majority. I started becoming more and more what people thought I was than what I thought I was. Everything I felt was negative, but I kept suppressing it. I found it harder and harder to make real friends, even though I am continuously blessed with a few very close long-time friends who know all this, most of the friends I have made in my life haven’t lasted long. Even recently, through mostly miscommunication of feelings, I have begun to part ways with even more people I thought highly of. I liked this girl in high school, she was dating one of the friends I had known for a few years from playing football together and I had great respect for him so I never said anything to her. She was one of the few people who really wanted to be around, we were always talking and laughing, giving eachother nicknames, and supporting eachother during our races. It was my lack of self-confidence that stopped me from pursuing, even if it was just high school puppy love or something, I will never know now. I have only had a handful of relationships with women, and the ones I have had relationships with have cheated on me saying that lack of connection was the main reason. I could never let myself BE without feeling a lack of trust. Maybe it was because of the struggles I had with my own mother growing up and our lack of good communication, maybe it was all the psychological abuse I hid away that accumulated during school, maybe I just am supposed to end up alone. All that I knew was that if I let my true self show, no one will like me or want to associate with me because I am different.

I was a good athlete. I could have been much better, but I constantly doubted myself. I could motivate and see the greatness in everyone else but not in myself, no matter how much confidence I showed it was not there. No matter how often I said I wasn’t nervous, I secretly wanted to run as far away as I could. It was that self-doubt that kept me from achieving my goals. If they were even my goals. The more I fell short, the stronger my façade became. The more I believed the lies I told myself about who I was, and the less I stopped dreaming and wanting.

I went to Salem State College for a year and a half, it was a complete failure. Drank too much, experimented to the point that it wasn’t experimenting anymore, and became even more of a loner and shut in. My smile started to disappear, even when the girl from high school came to the same college the following year, maybe giving me a chance to make something happen. It was too late, I was so deep into a blackhole of emotions that a regular relationship would not work for me. I became addicted to sex, sleeping with anyone willing to sleep with me. I dropped out of school, moved back home for about 6 months before in the spring of 2008 I tore my achilles tendon. Until I came to the realization that my early years were the source of my depression and anxiety, I had thought that this was the moment that began all of that. It was only the moment when it finally became too much for me to handle and it became too much for me to “play nice”. I became a complete asshole in almost every way. Fought with my parents till they kicked me out, struggled to pay my bills once I did move out, jumped from place to place, job to job. In 2010 I started meditating, eating better, and stopped feeding other peoples needs. I don’t have a fix all, or something I did that worked right away. Day in and day out I practiced breathing and listening to my body and taking care of me. It is now 2018, I barely drink and smoke, I am in good shape, I am following my dreams and goals and I am not fixed. I am not truly happy yet, nor am I free of my emotions and negative thoughts. One thing that has changed for me though is the realization that:

I AM WORTHY OF A GOOD LIFE

I AM A GOOD PERSON

I HAVE DONE MANY GREAT THINGS AND WILL DO MANY MORE

I AM A GOOD FRIEND

I HAVE GOOD FRIENDS

I AM LOVED AND ACCEPTED AND CARED FOR

These have become my mantras. Not rules or goals, just affirmations to let myself know that I am worth everything to me and one day I will be worth everything to someone else. I have not found my person yet, the universe has not deemed me ready to meet her yet, nor do I think myself as being ready yet. But I am making progress to be my best self, so when I do have the opportunity to meet a life changing person, I can give my absolute all to them without fear of failure because I have spent my whole life losing, when I win I will win big.

I just hope that if you are reading this you know that you are a good person, worthy of a good life. You are loved and accepted and cared for. You are a good friend and you have good friends, and whatever you are struggling with keep in mind that it is in your best interest to keep fighting cause trust me when you give in to the ocean, it will swallow you whole.

Peace and Love,

Juan

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