Over the span of 14 years few things I accomplished ever satisfied my husband.
No matter how hard I worked at something or how proud I felt of my achievements, in his eyes, I was never quite good enough. After showing him results or telling him of my efforts on various tasks, I was always left feeling as if I had not produced anything substantial.
Case in point: I was very successful in my career and received many promotions throughout the years. Each time I moved to a higher position, I expected he would finally be proud of me. After sharing my exciting news of a promotion though, he would only inquire about my salary, and then advise I demand a higher income. This left me to feel as if my inflated paycheck was still far below his standards.
Instead of seeing the disappointment as his issue, I’d begin to feel bad about my job and increasingly dislike it for not meeting his expectations. Rather than being proud of my promotions, I became increasingly insecure of my abilities.
His criticisms weren’t limited to my salary, in fact, his expectations weighed heavier in the other areas of my life:
- I was never a good enough mother
- The home was never cleaned correctly
- I spent too much money, despite using coupons or discounts
- Another ingredient would have always improved what I prepared to eat
When I wasn’t being criticized by my husband I was being insulted. He frequently called me crazy, incapable, and dumb. If he wasn’t directly calling me names, he was making comments to imply my incompetence.
During conversations with him I often became flustered and insecure. Eventually the anticipation of being put down and scrutinized resulted in ineffective communication, which then carried over into other areas of my life.
For years, I believed that having tough skin could effectively block out his negativity and being harder on myself would eventually bring the results that would satisfy him. Now, after being separated from such an environment for a year, I realize my beliefs were only working against me.
It is clear that no matter how thick my skin was, or how dedicated to improvement I was, my low self-esteem and growing social anxiety were the products of living with daily emotional abuse. Low self-esteem became the backbone of my existence and essentially prevented me from truly growing to my full potential.
I’ve seen light-years of improvement in my self-opinion since this time last year. Only now, with this honest belief in myself, and no one to break it down, can I begin to imagine what I am truly able to accomplish .