A decade ago, I thought I didn’t deserve the space I took up in the world. My sense of worthlessness has followed me like a stray dog all my life. I’ve improved, but when the ground gets uneven, it still jumps up and assaults me. Tear into me with enough cruelty and I will shred just as easily as I did when I was 25.
At the end of every street, there is self-doubt. Around every corner, there’s a sense of insignificance. At the top of every hill, there’s self-hatred. I recover from assaults on my value far faster than I once did, but when I fall, it’s as catastrophically as ever.
A healthy self-esteem is engendered in you as a child, and my mother only learned how to relate to my sister and I healthily after we’d left home. Both of us have struggled with the same self-esteem issues our entire adult lives.
The irony of recovering my self-worth is that I got it from revealing my flaws, not my strengths. You can’t find complete acceptance when you’re keeping secrets because the act of hiding snuffs all the intimacy out. Small acceptances dissolve in the darkness when you know you’re concealing something. My self-hatred hinged on one sentence: “If they knew the truth, they wouldn’t think so much of me.”
By the time my first dom arrived in my life, I was ready to push all those secrets into the light. I never imagined he’d accept what he saw, and he saw all of it. He loved it, too. That’s how I discovered that I wasn’t good enough—I was more. I had real value.
The kink community gave me a place where I could finally be myself. It helped me to put my worst and quirkiest self forward. I learned that the only trait we all share is our uniqueness, so being different doesn’t make me worthless. It makes me normal. This pile of fucked-upness is mine. It’s all I have. I don’t need you to find it lovable because I am already loved.