Tag Archives: low self-esteem

Ice Cream

Strawberry ice cream, Source sxc.hu, Author Lotus Head, Johannesburg, South Africa (Free use per OTRS ticket #2007062510004765)

“I scream
You scream
We all scream
For ice cream”

– “Ice Cream” by Howard Johnson, Billy Moll, and Robert King

We have all at one time or another over-indulged, whether in a pint of our favorite ice cream or a family size bag of chips.  And will again.  Food may not be a substitute for love, but it is readily available.

The need for love and connection is closely related to that for sustenance.  The need to reproduce is equally primal.  Human beings could not have survived without these needs being met, which is why they are so deeply ingrained in our nature.

Weight, however, is tied to self-loathing in our culture.  What American woman has not stood naked on the scale, waiting with bated breath for the dial to stop?

As many abuse victims know, the shame of abuse can be transferred to our weight.  The ongoing battle with weight provides us a permanent opportunity to vilify ourselves. Inversely proportional to our weight, our self-esteem can, quite literally, be measured by the pound.

When the damaged self-esteem resulting from abuse and the pressure on American women to be a certain size coincide, eating disorders frequently result.  Anyone acquainted with anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating knows these are often hidden.  The shame of these disorders coupled with the shame of abuse can be overwhelming.

There is worse. Some of us have eaten out of the garbage can.  This practice is not limited to the homeless among us [1].  There could hardly be a more apt symbol of low self-esteem. Continue reading

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Unbiblical, Part 3 – Humility v. Lack of Worth

“Eve” by Auguste Rodin, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Author MicheleLovesArt (MIchele Ahin at https://www.flickr.com/people/39627257@N04) (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

Many, if not most, victims will conclude from the abuse inflicted on them that they have little or no value.  They are likely to view God as angry and withholding, unconcerned for their welfare.  This applies whether the abuse is emotional, physical, sexual or in the form of neglect.

When in all humility Christians describe themselves as undeserving of Salvation or compare their righteousness to “filthy rags” (Is. 64: 6), abuse victims can readily identify.  However, abuse victims are inclined to view themselves as irredeemable.

Having been treated like filthy rags, having been taught that love must be “earned” – and never is – victims may, even as adults, wrestle with shame and believe that they are worthless.  This can drive them toward legalism (Christianity as perfectionism), in a frantic attempt to obtain the love they have been denied.

But God values every life.  His love is freely given.

Christ said:

“ ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth’ ” (Matt. 5: 5).

He said:

“… ‘Whoever receives this little child in my name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great’” (Luke 9: 48).

Christians must, first and foremost, demonstrate God’s love to abuse victims.  If they fail in this, the shame is theirs.

Originally posted 3/22/15

This series will continue next week with Trusting God, Self, and Others

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

Gomer

“Thoughts of the Past” by John Spencer Stanhope (1859), Tate Museum, PD Art (PD-old-100)

The biblical prophet Hosea lived during a dark period in Israel’s history, around the 8th Century BC.  Though prosperous, the Northern Kingdom had turned away from the one true God, instead worshipping idols.

Against this backdrop, God’s puzzling direction to Hosea was that he should marry a prostitute:

Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry And children of harlotry, For the land has committed great harlotry By departing from the Lord” (Hosea 1: 2).

Hosea’s troubled relationship with his wife, Gomer, becomes a metaphor for God’s relationship with Israel [1].

Gomer bears Hosea three children, whose names are symbolic of the spiritual deterioration of Israel [2].  But Gomer is repeatedly unfaithful.  Hosea even questions the paternity of the younger children.

Despite that, Hosea is commanded by God to love Gomer (Hosea 3: 1).  God warns Israel of terrible chastisement to come for its sin [3].  Hosea is not though described as punishing Gomer.  Rather, he ransoms her out of slavery.

We can infer that Hosea provides Gomer food and clothing, and treats her tenderly.  Ultimately, Hosea forgives Gomer’s infidelity as God forgives Israel’s.

Motivation

Since Gomer does not speak, we are left to wonder about her motivation.  Here she is, rescued from a life of degradation.  Yet she does not – or cannot – remain faithful.  Did she feel ignored by Hosea?  Did she long for male attention and admiration?  For the excitement of the streets (or the sensuality of pagan worship)?

Self-Sabotage

Why can what we know is wrong sometimes feel so “right”?  For abuse victims, self-sabotage may be part of the answer.

Self-sabotage is the expression of low self-esteem.  Any behavior which undermines our success can fall into this category.  Examples include binge drinking, engaging in unprotected sex, and selecting an alcoholic life partner.  The behavior may be conscious or unconscious.

“Typically, one’s pattern of self-sabotage is closely related to one’s personal issues and family history.   Survivors who grew up in addictive families may self-sabotage by driving while drunk… Survivors from violent families may…[be] beaten or injured.   Survivors from wealthy families often find themselves losing money, getting swindled or making bad investments.  Studies have shown that survivors of child sexual abuse are more likely to be assaulted as adults [4].”

This is not to suggest that abuse victims are responsible for the abuse inflicted on them.  Nor is it meant to imply that victims want to be re-victimized. Continue reading

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Ugliness, Part 2

As abuse victims, it is not uncommon for us to despise ourselves.  Whether physically, emotionally, or sexually abused and/or neglected as children or battered as adults, we are likely to have concluded on a visceral level that we are unfit, undeserving of love and affection.

Ugly and Bad

Young children equate ugliness with evil.  The two are for them one and the same, which is what makes ugliness so frightening to children.  The Wicked Stepmother needs daily confirmation of her good looks from a magic mirror.  Snow White has no such insecurities.  Snow White’s goodness informs her good looks, and vice versa.

Children who are physically or emotionally abused may draw the conclusion they are ugly — inside and out.  Believing themselves “responsible” for the abuse to which they are subjected, children may conclude that they are being punished deservedly, as both ugly and bad.

The Monsters Inc. and Shrek series of children’s films used humor to challenge this correlation.  Shrek considers Fiona genuinely beautiful, even in her true form as an ogre.  The classically handsome Prince Charming is actually a villain.

Self-Contempt

But for abuse victims challenging the correlation between beauty and goodness can be extremely difficult. By the time we reach adulthood, chances are that self-contempt has become part of our emotional make-up.

Contempt is a feeling of scorn. It can be a reaction not only to something concrete, but something wholly imagined. And contempt can deepen in intensity with time.

Countering Deficiencies

Abuse victims, generally, take one of three approaches, in their attempts to counter supposed deficiencies:

A.  Overachievement

Some of us become overachievers, driving ourselves relentlessly.  External awards are used as the measure of this group’s inherent value.

Unfortunately, worldly achievements are a poor substitute for such value.  The emptiness inside cannot be filled by material rewards, even those earned through great effort. The process of chasing tangible proof of intangible value is a futile task. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

Ice Cream

Chocolate chip ice cream, Source sxc.hu, Author Lotus Head, Johannesburg, South Africa (Free Use per OTRS Ticket #2007062510004765)

“I scream
You scream
We all scream
For ice cream”

– “Ice Cream” by Howard Johnson, Billy Moll, and Robert King

We have all at one time or another over-indulged, whether in a pint of our favorite ice cream or a family size bag of chips. And will again. Food may not be a substitute for love, but it is readily available.

The need for love and connection is closely related to that for sustenance. The need to reproduce is equally primal. Human beings could not have survived without these needs being met, which is why they are so deeply ingrained in our nature.

Weight, however, is tied to self-loathing in our culture. What American woman has not stood naked on the scale, waiting with bated breath for the dial to stop?

As many abuse victims know, the shame of abuse can be transferred to our weight. The ongoing battle with weight provides us a permanent opportunity to vilify ourselves. Inversely proportional to our weight, our self-esteem can, quite literally, be measured by the pound.

When the damaged self-esteem resulting from abuse and the pressure on American women to be a certain size coincide, eating disorders frequently result. Anyone acquainted with anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating knows these are often hidden. The shame of these disorders coupled with the shame of abuse can be overwhelming.

There is worse. Some of us have eaten out of the garbage can. This practice is not limited to the homeless among us [1]. There could hardly be a more apt symbol of low self-esteem. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse

Unbiblical, Part 3 – Humility v. Lack of Worth

Many, if not most, victims will conclude from the abuse inflicted on them that they have little or no value. They are likely to view God as angry and withholding, unconcerned for their welfare. This applies whether the abuse is emotional, physical, sexual or in the form of neglect.

When in all humility Christians describe themselves as undeserving of Salvation or compare their righteousness to “filthy rags” (Is. 64: 6), abuse victims can readily identify. However, abuse victims are inclined to view themselves as irredeemable.

Having been treated like filthy rags, having been taught that love must be “earned” – and never is – victims may, even as adults, wrestle with shame and believe that they are worthless. This can drive them toward legalism (Christianity as perfectionism), in a frantic attempt to obtain the love they have been denied.

But God values every life. His love is freely given.

Christ said:

“ ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth’ ” (Matt. 5: 5).

He said:

“… ‘Whoever receives this little child in my name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great’” (Luke 9: 48).

Christians must, first and foremost, demonstrate God’s love to abuse victims.  If they fail in this, the shame is theirs.

This series will continue next week with Trusting God, Self, and Others

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

6 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse