The day does come when a woman who once felt beautiful now feels invisible.
I am prematurely sad for that period of life. For all the women and men who feel deep inside that looks count for more than character, that appearance is more interesting than experience. I am sad for the amount of scrutiny women’s bodies are routinely subjected to — at home, at school, on the red carpet, even in an Orthodox shul’s mikveh! And I’m sad about being a creature conscripted to be looked at, desired, demeaned and derailed.
Danielle is stunning. I wonder how much importance she gives her looks? A few years ago, I had a girlfriend who said 100% of her self-esteem came from her looks. Her loss of looks will surely hurt her more than the woman whose self-esteem rests on her family, her religious and social duties, and her personal growth.
When I was 12, I ran five marathons. Much of my self-esteem then came from that accomplishment. Then at age 13, I developed knee trouble that prevented me from jogging for six years. I was lost and had to look for a new basis for my self-esteem. I found it in journalism and scholarship. Then I got sick at age 21 and could not read or study much for six years. That threw me for a loop. After I made a partial recovery at age 27, I had to struggle through life at about two-thirds of my previous strength and abilities.
In my difficulties, I kept looking for quick fixes for my lousy feelings. I sought out sex, porn, attention, heroism, Judaism, hero-worship, anything to make the bad feelings go away. Most of my fixes made my problems worse, and often hurt those around me.
“Life has screwed me over, but now I’m going to get mine” was a barely conscious style of thinking I developed. I was a menace to myself and others. In 1998, I began weekly therapy. That may have calmed me down a tad. IN 2008, I began taking Alexander Technique lessons, and that calmed me down significantly. In 2011, I entered my first 12-step program. That helped put my life on the right track.
The healthier I get, I suspect, the less I will blog.
When you put your self-esteem in any form of accomplishment or gift, that can be taken from you. If you grew up loved by your parents, or you have done the hard work of self-differentiation, you probably have a sense you are valuable.