Standing in my doorway my friend, in her white winter coat with the black night behind her, shivers in the cold and says, “You are a treasure, and that’s the pill you need to swallow.”
You are a treasure. You are a treasure. You are a treasure.
I realized a few months ago that something happened to me when I got to about grade 5. It was in that grade that I began to feel like no one wanted to be friends with me. I guess I just started to look at myself differently. And it was all so natural and intuitive… “no one wants to be friends with me, because I’m not…”
Fill in that blank with just about anything. Pretty enough. Cool enough. Nice enough. Maybe not smart enough, because I knew I was smart. But whoever wanted to be friends with someone because they’re smart, anyway?
That continued from grade 5 through grade 8. I just felt alone all the time. I wasn’t friends with the girl I’d been best friends with since I was two. I couldn’t tell you why. I’m starting to wonder now if I just pulled away from her because I thought she didn’t want to be friends anymore. (Maybe she stopped being friend because I pulled away?!)
There was a glitch in the system in grade 8 and 9 when I somehow got in with the really popular, pretty girls. I don’t know how it happened, but that was fun. I mean, I felt completely inadequate compared to them, but it was nice to have friends again.
But that’s the age when kids start partying, and party they did. And I was really uncomfortable with that, so I stopped hanging out with them. I’m not sure if they really noticed, because we moved onto high school the next year.
High school. The biggest high school in the province. Great if you have no friends, because no one will notice that you’re all alone. Not so great if you have no friends, because no one will notice that you’re alone.
Grade 10 was the worst. I mean, I legitimately looked horrible. (Everyone gets their bangs cut horribly once in life, and the summer going into grade 10 was that time for me.) I didn’t care about myself, so I didn’t take care of myself. I rushed from class to class mostly with my head down. Went home every lunch hour so I wouldn’t have to go through the awkward bit of finding someone to sit with in the cafeteria. The lowest point was when I took driver training: it started 20 minutes after the lunch bell rang and I got my dad to come pick me up and drive me home, so I could eat for 10 minutes and go back for driver training. All so I wouldn’t have to sit alone.
Not that I would’ve had to sit alone. Because I knew people. All sorts of people. I could talk to cool people and “uncool” people. I could make people laugh. But I just felt like I didn’t have a friend friend — not someone who I could count on to sit with me at lunch, or someone who’d call to hang out.
So I started going to youth group, and I got more involved with worship team. I did well at church. I fit in with the seniors, and the adults, and even some of the youth kids. But still, not a real peer. Not that year, anyway.
Grade 11 was better. And by grade 12, I had some close friends and for the most part felt better about myself. Although, I was still floored when a boy liked me that year. A real boy! Liked me! Even after that, eight months into university when Marc and I started dating and he obviously really liked me (of his own volition!), it took quite a bit of convincing on his part to prove to me that he really did like me. He proved it to me. But did I really believe it?
I did start to believe it with him. I believed that he actually liked me and he actually thought I was beautiful and he wasn’t just saying those things because he was in my family or something. It was Marc who first changed my perspective about myself.
But it still creeps into everything. I have made leaps and bounds in my perception of myself. But I still think there is this underlying theme of “you’re not good enough”; “you’re not … fill in that blank again…” Sometimes it’s subtle: like I’m confident writing counseling papers here at seminary, but when it comes to counseling people I, literally, crap my pants from fear and self-doubt. I still don’t do things because I’m afraid of how I physically look or how my kids will behave. I often go to bed at night feeling hopeless about how I’ve behaved that day.
But my good, good friend told me tonight that I’m a treasure. Marc said, “Dixie knows that. She can rationalize that all day. But she needs more — she needs some kind of emotional or spiritual… something.”
And, it’s true. I know it. I know God created me and that I don’t have to be perfect. I know that. But there is something in me that undergirds all of that rational thinking. And, stopping to think about it for a minute… I think the word would be “displeasure.” There has been something in me, from the age of ten onward, that has been saying “I am not…”
And I would like it to go away now. I don’t quite know how to go about doing that. And I don’t know if that change in thinking will manifest itself in different actions for me or simply different self-talk. (Come to think of it, I think I spent four months talking to my counselor about this very thing early this year!) What if I just stopped the negative self-talk, or at least ignored it?
And, heaven forbid, what if I started positive self-talk? My friend said repeatedly that I am a treasure. Always a treasure. A treasure when I’m yelling at my kids, puking on the toilet, feeling like total crap. A treasure. Not that I’m perfect. Not at all. But that I am a treasure just as I am.
There is something good in me. And that good should be the substance of me, instead of the displeasure.
Even more so, that’s always been the case.
So I think it would be useful for me to go back to my 10 year old self and tell skinny Dixie with the big bangs and tie-dyed over-sized t-shirt that “You are a treasure.” And that part of you that’s telling you that no one wants to be your friend? That is a lie. People want to be your friend. And if they don’t. They should. You are a treasure.
Fast forward six months from now. Super-insecure Dixie, wife of the new pastor at “____ Church”? You are a treasure, even if everyone thinks you’re a total nut job.
I need to tell myself that. Knock it into my head and into my heart until it really sticks.
I don’t want to forget the words of truth my friend spoke to me tonight: I am a treasure.