Discovering My Own Toxicity

I write about self-worth a lot. I think about it a lot. It is such a difficult thing to deal with. It’s something so easy to be hypocritical about. I constantly tell others why they deserve the world, why they are amazing human beings, why they should love themselves and what it is about themselves that they should love. And I always mean it. Yet when I look at myself, it’s never the same. There is always something lacking. There is always something that I could improve. There is always something that could be different.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized that this self-depreciation has influenced almost every aspect of my life, but particularly, in what I believed I deserve.

My first truck was a 1984 Chevy Shortbed. I loved that truck and it was perfect because it was cheap. With the help of my parents, I saved up for it and was able to purchase it outright for $1,500. But it was cheap because it sucked. It didn’t start half the time. It didn’t have A/C or heat. It couldn’t go on the highways because you couldn’t go faster than 65 MPH without it breaking down. When people would comment about it, I would label that it had character. Doesn’t start? Teaches me humility and to be thankful when it does. No A/C or heat? That’s what windows are for. No highway travel? I get anxiety driving anyway. She lasted me two years before we sold her for scraps, as she was beyond the point of repair. That was my senior year in high school.

I didn’t get my next car until senior year in college.  It was a 2001 Buick Regal. I thought it was a gem, first buying it from a used car lot. I was able to negotiate, after putting $1,000 down, to get my payment down to $116.08 a month (that eight cents is important), and “only” owed $5,000 on it. It was a reliable car and a definite step up from my first truck, and had a payment that didn’t break the bank. I named her Smaug. Soon, I learned about her more interesting characteristics: the A/C and heat worked, but was temperamental. The right window in the back didn’t roll down. The left door in the back didn’t lock. The right door in the back didn’t open from the inside. The CD player wouldn’t play burned CDs and if you hit a bump in the road, the radio would go out. Again, people would point out her flaws. Again, I would say, “She just has character.” She lasted me until this past summer, almost two years. But after three trips to the shop and her breaks giving out, I was forced to buy a third car.

She’s the first car I bought from a dealership. She’s a 2015 Chevy Sonic. Her A/C and heat works beautifully. Automatic windows. All the doors open, close and lock. She can go on the highway and I don’t have to worry about the threat of her breaking down. She drives smooth. The radio…oh gosh, the radio (talk about that bass). Her name is Dovahkiin. She costs $285 a month. It’s a gut-punch financially, for sure, but for the peace of mind, she’s worth it.

When I first moved away from home and went to college, I moved into the cheapest dorm I could find. It also had character. It was filled with asbestos, often had leaks, broken A/C units or other various problems required for maintenance repair. But it was cheap and it was home. I lived there for four years. My first apartment, I had to sign a lease for remotely. I was moving 12 hours away from home and there was no chance to go and look. I got a studio apartment that was 300 square feet for $500 a month. When I arrived, they had forgotten to put in my bed (it was furnished). It had no A/C and the heat, I learned later, didn’t work (thankfully, the hot water did). There was no stove but a hot plate. I wasn’t allowed to hang up pictures or burn candles. But it was home and I could afford it.

“It has character,” I would say. Or other times, “I’m used to it.”

My parents gave me my first phone when I was 16. It was a red flip phone. I loved it. I can’t remember when I upgraded to a Nokia, but I kept it for five years. At its end stages, the back had fallen off, the frame had snapped and it was held together by two different colors of tape. But it was cheap and it worked (until I dropped it one-too-many-times volunteering and was forced to finally get a smartphone).

Do you notice a trend, here?

I always blamed it on money. I had to go the cheapest route because I never had enough money to do otherwise. And that is a very real truth. Though frugal, I haven’t always had jobs that make the most money and so I went with the cheapest thing. It just made sense to me. The trend was financial necessity, not because I didn’t think I deserved to have nice things; not because I didn’t believe, unconsciously, that I wasn’t worth having nice things.

Right?

Okay, let’s take the financial element out. I started watching Outlander last night. Obviously, I have fallen head over heels for a certain Scottish outlaw (I mean, c’mon, how can you not?). Of course, after watching a few episodes, I started planning my trip to Scotland to find myself my own highlander, because the American men just weren’t cutting it for me anymore (sad part is, I’m only half joking). But then I started thinking, on my commute to work today, “Don’t be foolish, Nicole. Even if you could get there, what are the chances you could find a highlander interested in you? Even if there was a real man like Jamie, he’s too attractive for you. You’d just be crushing your own foolish, aiming-too-high heart.”

Before my thoughts started going down darker avenues, I finally realized what I was unconsciously doing to myself. Because I believe myself to be worth so little consciously, I have unconsciously let that influence a lot of elements in my life; namely, the type of things I own and the type of people I could date. Until this summer, I’ve only searched for and owned shitty cars, shittier places to live or held onto electronics until their last breaths (my first laptop I kept for five years, before it ran so slowly it stopped functioning). I always blamed that for financial reasons and those definitely were–and still are–a factor. But it wasn’t the name one.

I didn’t think that I deserved to have nicer things.

I’ve been single all my life. I turn 24 this November (I am getting old). Though I am the biggest advocate for love and in every vein a hopeless romantic, I have never found it. There are times I’ve tried. Other times, I haven’t. The times I haven’t have been for one of two reasons: one, the guy I’m interested in is a cherished friend and I don’t want to lose his friendship by asking for something more (though that was more during high school that that happened). Two (and more lately), I don’t even go after someone because they are “out of my league.” They are “too attractive” for me. And I don’t just mean physically, though that is definitely the easiest to judge when it comes to a stranger. But even great guys who aren’t bombshells physically but still amazing human beings, I don’t go after. I’m intimidated by both attractive men and great men. Not just because I’m scared of being turned down. Not just because I’m insecure and I’m so tired of rejection (especially when all I want is to love someone with my entire being and to be cherished in the same manner).

Who am I to be worth an amazing man and his love? Compared to so many other women, why would he pick me? Why would I deserve such a love that I crave?

Damn if our own emotions can’t be so toxic, sometimes.

As I write this, I’m using a laptop my Mom got me last year as an early graduation gift. It’s a very nice, reliable laptop. I drove Dovahkiin to work today and, after escaping from a dark thought path, I jammed out to some music while I turned the A/C down. My Mom let me have her old IPhone recently, so I just got a “new” phone, albeit used, but it is definitely the nicest phone I have owned. I just signed a lease to a gorgeous apartment that comes with a washer and dryer, in the freakin’ apartment. All of these things, on top of bills and student loans and just generally living, is going to make money tight. But not impossible. It is totally doable, in my current situation. They are all really nice things. And they are mine. I have them.

Me.

The fact that I am flabbergasted by that fact shows how harmful my own view of myself and my worth has been. I have been toxic towards myself for years and not even realizing it, masking it as the natural life of a pauper or struggling artist. And I don’t even know why I judge myself so harshly. It is simply because I’m not skinny? Does it go deeper than that? Yes, I have flaws. That’s obvious. I’m stubborn. I could work on being a better friend. I have baggage and self-esteem issues and anxiety and depression. I overthink.

Yet does any of that justify the idea that I don’t “deserve” nice things? Does any of that rationalize why I don’t believe I’m worthy of a good man’s love (or even a bad one’s love, some days)?

No. Absolutely freakin’ not.

I’ve been working on self-love for quite some time. Some days, I’m successful, other days, not so much. Discovering another toxic layer and learning how to remedy it is just one step forward in learning how to better love myself. Because at the end of the day, I’m worth it. I deserve it. No qualifiers necessary.

Cheers.

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About Nicole Evans

Nicole Evans is a writer of fantasy and science fiction. She is currently unpublished and is working fervently to get the “un” removed from that statement. She has five completed manuscripts: a trilogy about destined heroes that fail anyway, a science fiction standalone that pits the natural desire to love against the natural instinct to kill during the extinction of the human race and a new series about a writer who can't get published and gets the chance to live a life that all writers dream. She also has two scripts done. Currently, she is about to start writing the second of a nine book series while planning two more. (If you can tell, she really likes this whole writing thing.) Considering she has run out of space for putting rejections letters up on her wall, Nicole now uses her spare time doing the typical things that nerds do: blogging, dying repeatedly during video games (which she believes is retribution for the characters’ she’s killed), wishing she was the character she is currently reading about and trying to fight off the real world by living in her own head, with varying degrees of success. Nicole has a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Film and Media Studies, and works part-time as a supervisor in a library at the University of Kansas. View all posts by Nicole Evans

12 responses to “Discovering My Own Toxicity

  • Juni Desireé

    Can definitely relate to this, especially that first paragraph. I’m learning recently how much I see myself as inferior to others which affects the way I am around people. I tell people they’re amazing and that they can do anything and truly believe it, but when it comes to me, deep down there’s always been that feeling of less-than. Something I’m trying to work through at the moment. Thanks for sharing!

    • inkstaind13

      Yes, exactly! I’m sorry you go through the same thing, but hopefully, now that we know, we can help one another see the true beauty and worth that we each hold, equal to those that we support. 🙂

      • Juni Desireé

        Well knowing it and living it I’m finding are two very different things – hehe. Such a process to get them to match up.

  • Jessica M

    We are our own worst enemies. Our worst critics, as it were. In essence, I’m convinced that most artist types are probably the most self-deprecating individuals out there, unfortunately. I too am always looking for the little lessons in life. Every hardship, whether true or self-perceived by my perspective, is something that can be used to better my character. Which, personally, I think is a good way to live.

    Congratulations on all that you’ve accomplished in your life so far. It just feels so much better when you worked for it. So many people I’ve known from high school were, to borrow the colloquialism, born with a silver spoon in their mouth. And my self-esteem was shot for more than just me and my family’s financial reasons. But my point is: you are grateful. And that is the more important lesson. There are too many ingrates and me-first people out there, and even when they get what they want, it still isn’t enough for them. You don’t seem that type at all because unlike many people (that I know, anyway), you appreciate even the smallest things.

    Now that I’m in my third decade in life, I am still far from the person I’d like to be. You never stop growing. My past haunts me, and anxiety plagues me still. You’re on the right path though: you’re aware of your state of mind, and you’re striving to keep on bettering yourself and your life. Which is a lot more than many people do — they fall into a rut and oftentimes continue down a road of self-destruction. Keep your head up Nicole (: I think you’re doing just fine!

    ps. I’ve named all my cars, too! My first car was older than me. But after a year, it kept stalling at stop signs/lights, which was mortifying to say the least, and then the radiator finally fried -.- You make do, and you’ll have stories to tell later. That’s the way I see it! Be proud of all you’ve accomplished!

    • inkstaind13

      Jessica, wow! That response was so heartwarming, thank you so much!! I seriously appreciate not only that you read such a long post, but that you took the time to reach out and make a stranger’s day. Your words are what I’m going to return to on darker days to remind myself that life may be hard, at times, but with hard work, a positive attitude and humbleness, a person can go far and achieve much. ❤ Thank you!
      PS: Luckily, I never had my car stall (I'm sure that was horrible). There was one time that I was stopped at a stoplight in my truck and someone came up to my window and told me I had a flat tire. I hadn't even realized it, because the shaking and the bumpiness felt normal! 😛

      • Jessica M

        You’re so welcome (: Do have faith in yourself, and be proud of all you’ve accomplished so far. I know I barely know you, but I can see you have a good and honest soul. So keep your chin up and wishing you all the best!

        PS Oh no! I’ve had a flat too, but I realized it when I pulled out of my driveway. I’m always in fear of a blow out, and nevermind brakes, I get nightmares about suddenly losing my brakes! But I’m glad you’re in a better vehicle now. Car repairs are such a headache, let alone how it makes any of your savings disappear in one go ):

      • inkstaind13

        For some reasons, because we’re strangers, getting labeled as having a “good and honest soul” almost means even more. Sincerely, thank you.
        PS: It was crazy. And now I freak out all the time that I have a flat and just don’t realize it! Car repairs are indeed the worst!

  • azpascoe

    I think this is a really common element of a LOT of people’s lives! You deserve massive points for being honest about it, because I think a lot of us just go around faking it until we make it. I also find that putting other people first made it easy for me forget about myself – it wasn’t until post-Afghanistan tour in 2013 that I had a breakdown and had to learn how to be kind and how to just love myself for who I am. It was hard and it sucked, but I can’t express how much I appreciate what it has given me.

    On the relationship front thing: that, I get. Massively. My boyfriend and I started dating last year (I was 23) after having been friends for about 3 years… And I had never had a boyfriend before. I know that he’s forever (which sounds so stupid and naive, but whatevs) and that makes all that waiting worthwhile. But don’t let anyone tell you that it doesn’t suck sometimes, because it absolutely does. What you can rest assured of is that you’re waiting for the right person: I was single for so long because I refused to settle for anything less than exactly what I wanted. And one day I got it.

    Keep your chin up and give yourself permission to love yourself a bit Nicole 🙂 Everyone else does!

    Also, our current car is called NightHawk 😉 :p
    xo

    • inkstaind13

      You’re so great!!! ❤ I loved every bit of this response, of course. And you're right, I think it is a difficult balance of putting others first and still finding ways to appreciate and love yourself; a balance that has always been heavily in favor for the former, in my case, but one I am working to equalize now. I'm so glad to hear that you have manage to figure it out, yourself. You're constantly proving an inspiration to me!
      And I appreciate more than you know the story about how you and your boyfriend met. ❤ I wish you both the very best! Some days, I am totally fine and don't care at all. And others, I crave that sort of love so much it physically hurts. Again, another thing to try to balance to a more healthy level, but you know I will wait as long as I have to, to find the man I want, who wants me.
      Thank you so much, darling. You're a rockstar. Also, NightHawk sounds AWESOME. So awesome. 😀

      • azpascoe

        I’m so glad!! I wish I could put into words how much I empathise with you; it’s so painful sometimes and especially when you’re not around your family, needing love can be like needing air: wanting it and not getting it the way you want it can feel like drowning. You are so amazing and I am SO glad I found you on Twitter! xox

      • inkstaind13

        I am also so glad we connected. You are such an amazing person and I love supporting you, being supported by you and gaining insight and inspiration from you. You’re absolutely killer. ❤

      • azpascoe

        Me too! I’m so full of love right now 🙂 ❤

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