Recently, we had to help one of our pets go to heaven. Our pony, Maggie, sustained an incurable traumatic head injury during a horrific thunderstorm, with bolts of lightning coming down quicker than we could count them. Not only did she take a piece of my heart with her when she left us, she also took my self esteem.
Self esteem is the feeling of confidence we have in our own abilities. For me, self esteem is a feeling in my gut that tells me if I am willing to work hard enough at something, I can make it happen. That disappeared after Maggie died.
Two other times in my life my self esteem has vanished like dust in the wind; when I sustained a spinal cord injury and when my father died. The latter was much worse. To be truthful, my memory of getting injured is very foggy, but what I do remember vividly is fighting my way back to be an individual with confidence, self esteem and faith in her abilities.
I did not expect to feel like this when Maggie left us. Sad, yes, of course. Very sad. We rescued Maggie five years ago. When she came to us, she had an advanced foot disease we knew at some point would send her to heaven.
With our love, good care, an incredible vet and group of farriers, she blossomed and became legendary. Our vet and farriers told us Maggie’s story was well known among their colleagues because with the advancement of her disease, she should have been in heaven a long time ago.
Talk about self esteem. Maggie was the sweetest little thing. Furry, loved carrots, peppermint candy and couldn’t be pet enough. But she was gutsy. Scrappy. Wouldn’t be bossed around by a horse twice her size. She had confidence. She had self esteem… She knew who she was.
Now she’s gone, and I don’t recognize myself. As I said, of course I expected to feel sad, but this feeling, this dullness inside me is something I haven’t been able to define because I’ve never experienced it before.
Please don’t misunderstand. I’m human, and there have been times when my self esteem has been low due to one circumstance or another. But I recognized it. It was reasonable to feel the way I was feeling because of what I was going through at that particular time in my life.
My desire to do anything productive left me. I couldn’t write. Correction… I didn’t want to write. Another exciting new part of What’s Your Wheelchair, Inc that I have been working on and getting hyped to unveil… No desire to work on that either.
Which is odd for me. When my father passed away, I had projects morning, noon and night. That’s how I dealt with my grief. A large part of it, anyway.
After a week of not being able to get anything accomplished except crying, (which made me feel even worse because as we all have at times, I happen to have a lot of responsibilities to manage right now,) I turned to the Internet for some answers.
I came across an article regarding grief and self esteem. It seemed to be talking directly to me. It said a common experience of grief is a loss of self esteem. An individuals self esteem may be affected because we feel we are not “getting over it” in a reasonable amount of time or we are not moving on quickly enough or we are dealing with it entirely differently than previous experiences of grief. Bingo.
I wasn’t wanting to keep busy. I didn’t feel I was capable of anything. Including getting my self esteem back. I didn’t know where to start. Then the article made suggestions of how to help you feel better.
One of them was notice small acts of love and kindness from people. I thought of the kind comments on Facebook I had received, my youngest niece coming over with flowers she had picked for Maggie, and on a recent trip to my friend’s spa, practically every girl working said how sorry they were for my loss.
Another self esteem lifter recommended was doing something kind for someone else. I recalled a few days before when a total stranger quickly walked over to my car and opened my door while I was getting gas. I could tell by the look on her face she knew I couldn’t open the door myself. She had tears in her eyes and said she had cancer, she recognized me from my picture, loved my book and said how it helped her to keep moving forward every day. The last thing she said was,”Please keep writing!”
So I thought about my writing, and how many times I wrote about our self esteem and the importance of it. I reread previous articles I had written and took some of my own advice. As soon as I did that, the Universe opened doors to help me lift my self esteem.
A friend called to see how I was doing. Did I need anything? Did I want to visit later on? In the next moment, another friend text me, needing help getting information for a serious health issue.
I actually felt like writing. The thought of it felt fun and rewarding, like it always does. I reminded myself I deserved the people in my life who cared about how I was feeling. In only a few hours, my self esteem caught fire and is continuing to warm me.
In any circumstance when our self esteem is low, I think one of the most important things to remember is self esteem comes and self esteem goes. If we focus our energy more on our intention to seek help to get our self esteem back instead of “Why did it go?”, we’d be back in the saddle quicker.
Dedicated to Maggie Alexander Pluchino, who went to heaven July 2nd, 2014.