I can't remember a time when I didn't feel I was worthless, and by the time I was sixteen going on seventeen I was well immersed in the depression that went with the lack of self esteem. As I heal and emerge from the decades of periodic bleakness, I have been having realisations and insights.
#1 The reason I never actually killed myself was not just that I didn't want to make the people I loved sad, it was also because I didn't feel I deserved to do what I wanted so much to do. It wasn't just that I loved those people, it was that I thought their wellbeing was infinitely more important than mine. Now I know that I am just as important as them, but I no longer want to be dead. I want to live!
#2 There have been many people over the years that I thought were interesting, fun people who I would like to know better, but I could never say, "would you like to meet for a coffee" or anything like that - I'd just wait for them to make an approach. If they didn't, I assumed that they didn't like me. I was so tied up in my own perception of myself as a worthless, boring, uninteresting person that it never even occurred to me that they might have the same fear of rejection as me.
#3 As I fell further into the mire, I would say things like, "I was nearly 30 when I had my first child," and "I was nearly 40 when I had my last child," and from the day after each birthday I'd tell people my age by saying, "I'm coming up to .." In reality, I was 29 1/2 when I had Greg, and 38 1/2 when I had Jeff. The other day I caught myself telling someone I am 63. And I am 63. But until very recently I would have said, "I'm coming up 64," or, I'll be getting National Super soon." I realised that this too is a sign that I am healing, slowly, and growing to accept myself.
Maybe one day I'll grow up - although not completely, I hope.