My Dad left our house when I was little. I visited him on designated weekends. He wasn’t particularly cuddly but I was wanted. In fact, he wanted to own me. Until he gave up. And because children believe that how they are treated is what defines their worth, I wasn’t apparently worth it. So I gave up on me too.

He gave up on me so I did too on

So tragic on so many levels and yet, it’s very much a reality for many many children. Like Peter Pan’s lost children, we are left with to our devices to seek out our worth in the world. In my case, I kept repeating this rejection and sought out men who were not available so that I could keep thinking I was somehow faulty. What a viscous circle this has been.

If someone does not want me

it is not the end of the world

but if I do not want me

the world is nothing but endings

~ Nayyirah Waheed

Eventually, through so much grief and work, I find myself with the absolute knowledge that my worth is defined by me. By what I claim it to be. And that I don’t have to keep trolling the world looking for validation from strangers and loved ones alike, is both a relief and terrifying.

He gave up on me so I did too on

But I am slightly dumbfounded at having to whip this worth stuff up from thin air. Thankfully, I’m surrounded by many wonderful mirrors. Connections both online and in the real world that I have been purposefully cultivating with my truest self. Plus a rockin’ therapist who gets me better than almost anyone. And a husband who is very supportive and patient.

Still, it is a bit of a slog through the mud to see what I want to value about myself. But everyday I try to be mindful of my lovely world, my creative existence within the world, and what goals I really want to set for myself for my betterment. Weaning myself from the validation of others was a great start. And now it’s still up to me to allow the world to see me and appreciate myself for the gifts I can give back.

PS. This week I am again hosting a challenge called the Soul Selfie Challenge on Instagram, where me and other people use prompts to dig a little into our psyches and divulge a little more real us instead of pretty “don’t you like me stuff”. My hope is that it becomes more validating to be real with real people than the attention we get from posing and pretending for external gratification. Look for me on IG using shalaghhogan or search the hashtag #soul_selfie.

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  1. This is one of the most meaningful posts of yours to me, and you know many have reached me… today, I’m feeling a little fragile, a little out there, uncertain, and it’s all tied up with my father and his father and his father… and all the people in between. I’m haunted by the ancestry, half in love with it, mesmerized and drowned by it. I also think I’m a little tired. Thank you for just sending me these thoughts that I am worth it in spite of everything.

    1. We are of them but not theirs. We are ours. I am always cheered to know what I have written has helped you or anyone today. It’s also the first day of a soul selfie challenge. Secrets was today’s prompt. Shame gets to linger when you keep the secret. Check that post out too on either IG or FB feed from there.

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