Journal #3: The Voices In My Head

By: Brittany Priore Illustration: Girl Power Illustrations

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I was raised in a very loving household growing up. It was filled with warmth, encouragement, love, and security. My grandmother, mother, and sister praised me and constantly reassured me of my beauty. The compliments were always genuine and full of love. Never a statement made to make me feel superior but rather to make me feel fulfilled with who I was and what I was given. Their praises were never testaments to bolster my ego but rather to reassure my confidence and acceptance. However, even with their praise, I remember the constant feeling of unworthiness. As a child, I never quite understood that inferiority I was feeling, but, now, as an adult, I am able to recognize and give a name to it.

These past few weeks have been some of the most enlightening of my life. Beyond what I have learned in school, read in a book, seen in a movie, or listened to on a podcast, learning about myself has been truly life changing. I explain it as having been half asleep and walking through life thus far in a haze. Seeing myself but not really looking beyond the surface. Understanding myself but not really knowing the cause. Listening to myself but having the volume turned down. Life so far, for me, has been half lived. Recognizing and understanding this has been frustrating at times, but I have come to accept and understand that this whole journey is a part of something much greater for me. For whatever reason, this time in my life is the right time. As much as I would have loved to have thoroughly recognized, processed, and worked through these problems at a much earlier stage in my life, I understand and accept that now is the time this journey is supposed to begin. Each night I repeat this to back to ground myself and give an anchor to the emotions fluctuating.

After having accepted this, I was able to move forward with the revelations presented. Over the last few weeks, I have come to understand myself more than I ever have before. The conversations I've finally allowed myself to have with myself have been resourceful in ways unimaginable. A few weeks ago, I came to the realization that my acne is the cause of the current state of depression I'm in. That, in and of itself, was revolutionary for me. I was blind to understanding that something as jejune as my acne was the root cause of the fear-filled life I had been leading. Last week, after a phone call with a friend and then many conversations with myself, I came to the cognizance that my acne was a mere trigger for something much greater.

It's quite funny actually. I've used the words "unworthy, worthy, or self-worth" to help other women understand their utility during countless conversations. However, I have never once taken that word and tossed it around in my head to fully absorb its meaning. It wasn't until after I published my first journal entry that a follower on Instagram left me a comment that I will hold close to my heart in my darkest hours. She said to me, "Tears.... for a multitude of reasons. Tears for your feelings of unworthiness, your struggles with anxiety and depression, tears of happiness for your strength and honesty. And tears because I see myself in every word you write, in every emotion you describe, and in knowing the strength it takes to win the quiet battle every single day." This comment hugged me, it reached through the computer screen, wiped my tear-stained cheeks and sat down beside me. I felt understood and recognized for the first time in many years. There is a sense of loss one feels between them and their loved ones when they are struggling with something their loved ones don't understand and hopefully, for their sake, never will. It isn't their fault. And not much can be done to fill that void. Often enough, it takes someone, sometimes someone you barely know, like, my follower, to fill that void because they understand. They have been there or are there with you right now, going through the thick of it.

Her comment lingered for days. I kept repeating the word "unworthiness" to myself not fully understanding its value in retrospect to me and my situation. Unworthy. What does that really mean? Self-worth. Do I have any? Worthless. Am I? I don't know, no, and yes. Those were my true and honest answers. I, Brittany Priore, have lived the majority of my life seriously lacking any self-worth and in doing so have felt a sense of unworthiness in all aspects of my life. I started thinking back to the compliments from my sister and mother. I tried to remember my reactions to them. Did I accept them? Did I shutter at their falsehood? Did I believe them? I don't think I ever did. As far back as I can remember, which is middle school, I never embraced one of their compliments. Instead, I countered them. When my mother told me I had long, thick, beautiful hair, I thought she was crazy and, in my head, would compare my short, thin, ugly hair to some of the girls I went to school with. When my sister would compliment my body shape, I rejected the thought and, in my head, compared my body to some of my friends. The self-depreciation didn't end there. Even when I was accepted into the University of Miami, my dream school, I didn't believe it. I thought, "There is no way someone as doltish as me can get in here. Surely they made a mistake."

Thinking back, there has always been a sense of maladroit I felt when facing society and I really can't tell you why. And to be honest with you, I don't think I will ever get that answer. But, right now, knowing all of this, truthfully disclosing it, and actually accepting these flaws about myself, I feel as though I have all the pieces. For the very first time, I know what it is I have to do to put myself back together again. It feels overwhelming at times -- as great as these truths are, their arrival was simultaneous, within weeks of each other, and that is vastly overpowering for anyone I would suspect.

So, what I've decided to do, and have been doing -- besides journaling every day, is to didactically write out a list of every plight I seem to be confronted with. This allows me to continuously stay attentive to every facet of this "unworthiness." This also allows me to consider other areas of my life that may have been subconsciously controlled by this feeling, as well.

When all of this self-reflection started, I was ashamed and didn't feel comfortable confiding in anyone. I was barely able to convey these thoughts to myself, telling another personal seemed unbearable. But, I did it. I opened up and have chosen to confide in a selective few -- people I trust dearly, people whose formulated thoughts I respect, people who are truly interested in my wellbeing and not just the spilled tea. One of the few I hadn't spoken to in weeks. She picked up the phone, nonetheless, and listened for hours. She brought me to such a state of reflection it felt freeing. I'm so thankful for her and that day and that conversation and that people like her exist. I hope anyone else out there struggling through something similar has someone like her in their life. If not, you do now. Call, text, email, or write me anytime. I promise you, I'll be here to listen.

That conversation is what led to the notion that something else was the cause of all this suffering and my acne was just a mere trigger. It was then I received the comment from my follower and the pieces flowed naturally. This wouldn't have happened a year ago, or even 2 weeks ago. It was because I let down my defenses and decided to open up to everything that had the possibility of helping me figure myself out.

After discovering it was a sense of worthiness I lacked, it all flowed humbly from there and brought me to the surface of who I really am -- well, who I want to become once I'm confident enough to let go of who I unintentionally became.

***Disclaimer: these journal entries are three weeks behind the present date.