Exercises to build self-esteem: #3. Personal positive experiences

Personal positive experiences…

1. Take out a clean sheet of paper and a pen of your choice.

2. Divide the paper into eight sections: Courage, Kindness, Selflessness, Love, Sacrifice, Wisdom, Happiness, Determination.

3. Under each section write about positive personal experiences that come under that category.

4. You don’t have to limit yourself to one example for each, the more you can think of the better!

5. Keep the paper somewhere handy so that (a) you can read it frequently and (b) you can add to it whenever you fancy.

 

  • I fought cervical cancer for four years, and I’ve hopefully won.
  • I underwent two surgeries for the cancer.
  • I underwent four biopsies.
  • I am going public with Lulu Stark.  I’m going to be courageous here and put my name out there.  I am actually Tiffany.  But, I prefer Tiff.  Please keep calling me Lulu though.  I like it.  I think it represents something in me.
  • In June 2011, I started As The Pendulum Swings, my first mental health blog.
  • I co-founded A Canvas of the Minds, a community mental health blogging site.
  • I supported Occupy Pittsburgh when they were camping in town.
  • In 2006, I lived without basic utilities in a dilapidated house.
  • I recently moved away from my hometown.
  • I had the courage to finally break ties with my extended family and put my parents at a distance.
  • I’ve finally accepted my son’s diagnosis of Pervasive Development Disorder.
  • In 2009, I sought treatment for bipolar disorder.
  • Before my surgery in 2011, I chose to live by my own hand.

  • I take late night phone calls for friends in need.
  • I used to volunteer for my family’s church.
  • I am fiercely loyal to friends, even if they don’t deserve it.
  • I occasionally give to charities, especially those for children.
  • I taught music in a youth program for underprivileged children.
  • I make it a point to comment on people’s blogs at least once a day.
  • I encourage online friends to email me when they are having a hard time.
  • I help my husband finish his work at home.
  • I leave love notes for my husband.
  • I once made a blanket for a child I was a nanny for.
  • I was a summertime nanny for two children plus my own.

  • I get up an hour and a half before my husband each day to get him off to work.
  • I always do without for my child.
  • I always make sure that my husband gets the big piece of chicken at dinner.
  • I cook, although I don’t often feel like it.
  • I take classes that my husband is very enthusiastic about me taking.
  • I make sure my child’s needs come first.
  • I am staying at home instead of working to take care of my son.
  • I am working hard to get my son services for his special needs.
  • I am always able to put my own stuff aside for a friend in crisis.
  • Over the last year, I have put off numerous appointments in order to accommodate my husband’s climb up the career ladder.  I still am.
  • Sometimes, as a result of my husband’s work, I find that I end up being the sole parent for most days.  I rarely ask for anything in return.
  • I lay my husband’s clothes out every morning because he’s colorblind.
  • I have forgone getting a new pair of glasses for two years because it’s not in the budget.
  • Sometimes, I make my medicine stretch just a little longer so that I can see everyone else is taken care of first.
  • I mentioned I help my husband finish his work at home.  I do so unpaid.
  • During Summer Semester 2011, I pushed a little girl around the wheelchair at the zoo.  If you knew the Pittsburgh zoo, then you know it’s very hilly.

  • I have never abandoned someone because they were “too much work”.
  • I put everything I have into my son.
  • One of the reasons we moved to the place we live in now is so we could take care of my husband’s family, all of whom are disabled now.
  • I write prose to my husband.  Sometimes, I stick cute notes in his work laptop.
  • I will do anything to immediately soothe my husband’s panic attacks.
  • I will hold my son for hours when he’s having an emotional day.
  • I am always telling my husband wonderful things about himself.
  • I am not hesitant to be affectionate with my husband, even when he is.

  • I recently passed up a job offer to stay at home with my son.
  • I have not pursued the last four credits of my Bachelors, because the money would come out of pocket.
  • In the summer of 2011, I taught summer semester while having undiagnosed walking pneumonia for over a month.  We needed the money.
  • In 2010, I had to surrender my dog Nikki.  She was too big for the house, setting off Beast’s allergies, and we didn’t have a big enough yard for her.
  • In 2006, I dropped out of college to work.  The man I was with at the time and I had some really wrecked finances.
  • In 2006 and then again in 2009, I took a job in a commercial bakery when I had two different Associate’s Degrees.  I was desperate for work.
  • Becoming a mother is sacrifice in itself.
  • I am holding off on having a second child for my husband’s sake.  I may not be able to have children as I grow older, and I take the risk that the cancer will return.

  • In 2012, I started Sunny with a Chance of Armageddon to help share my experience with others so they might not feel so alone.
  • I regularly give advice to friends and family.
  • Despite our rocky relationship, I counseled my mother while she had difficulty taking care of her own mother.
  • I know that I can only believe none of what I hear and only half of what I see.
  • Get me once, shame on you.  Get me twice, shame on me.
  • I realize that life is what happens when a person is busy making other plans.
  • There are some things that I can help, and there are some things I cannot.  It’s up to me to have the wisdom to determine which is which.  I am pretty good at that at this point.
  • I always remind others that you can’t change people.
  • I find that I always remind others that happiness and health are more important than anything else.  Money and duty sometimes have to take a backseat.

  • In 2008, I took a honeymoon to my favorite beach, Myrtle Beach.
  • Also in 2008, I gave birth to one of my sources of joy, my son, my Beast.
  • Also in 2008, I married the man of my dreams.  My other half, maybe my better half, Xan.
  • My family takes regular long drives through the country.
  • I adopted a kitten in 2011.
  • In 2007, my long time best friend, Xan (my now husband), got into our romantic relationship.  We had a whirlwind romance that ended up with us being married in less than a year.
  • I’ve had five wonderful years with my husband.
  • I have wonderful friends who would do anything for me.
  • I’m now living in the nicest house I’ve ever lived in.
  • I have so much land and I don’t live on a busy street anymore.
  • I’m in the best shape of my life.

  • I will finish my degree one day, and finish higher degrees.
  • I will find a good therapist and get on the right medication.
  • I will combat mental illness, and come out the other side better for it.
  • I will continue to get in shape and stay in shape.
  • I will belt up in Tang Soo Do.
  • I will continue to keep fighting cancer, even if the doctors are sure that it’s gone.
  • I will help my son catch up in his development.
  • I will help my husband be the best father, husband, and employee he can be.
  • I will never give up on myself, my goals, my dreams, and my friends and family.

 

All that I am, all that I ever was...

Send you negative thoughts to the naughty corner!

So far this week we have looked at what self-esteem is; the value we place on ourselves and how we see ourselves in general, what low self-esteem is; when we as individuals hold deep-seated negative beliefs about ourselves, and how we can work toward improving these beliefs through altering our perceptions of who we are.

First, by focussing on the things that bring us pleasure (rather than pain) and secondly, on how it isn’t narcissistic to love our individual gifts and talents.

Today, we look at our experiences.

As many people who suffer from low-esteem may relate to, I spend a lot of time living in the negative space of my life. All day, every day, I am constantly reminding myself of all the things I have done wrong; of when I let my friends down, of when I…

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Leep-Into-Cin – Part III

Part three and recent parts of my fight with cervical cancer

As the Pendulum Swings

Warning: The following content can be considered graphical in nature.  It may contain material that may not be appropriate for certain audiences.  Children under the age of 18, those of the male gender, and others faint of heart may want to take extra care while viewing this.  Use your own discretion.

Bringing in the Big Guns

After the experience where I was left stranded on an operating table, I had grown animosity toward that doctor that performed my surgery.  I refused to see her, and I refused to go through any more procedures.  It didn’t matter.  I had lost my insurance again and there was nothing I could possibly do.  The only other option was to return to the clinic so that they could slowly kill me with their negligence.

I did break down and go to the clinic, but only for a required Pap to receive birth control.  I…

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Leep-Into-Cin II – Part II

Part two of my journey with HPV and Cancer

As the Pendulum Swings

Warning: The following content can be considered graphical in nature.  It may contain material that may not be appropriate for certain audiences.  Children under the age of 18, those of the male gender, and others faint of heart may want to take extra care while viewing this.  Use your own discretion.

July 19, 2007

C.S. and I walked through the neighborhood in the early morning hours.  The air was thick and heavy like wet cotton, but a chilled wind passed every few moments, carrying with it the scent of midsummer rain.  Our discourse was just as thick, but much more warm.  It was like other evenings, but with an electric charge of an impending thunderstorm in the air.  We walked the desolate backstreets with a course for a local convenience store.  Everything was quiet, with the exception of our conversation and the light patter of rain beginning to fall.

Mid-sentence…

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Leep-Into-Cin II – Part I

Finding out about HPV and cervical cancer

As the Pendulum Swings

Warning: The following content can be considered graphical in nature.  It may contain material that may not be appropriate for certain audiences.  Children under the age of 18, those of the male gender, and others faint of heart may want to take extra care while viewing this.  Use your own discretion.

One Bad Apple . . .
Twelve years ago, almost to the day, the relationship with my first love started.  We had gone circles for over six months.  He eyed me, and I fancied him.  We spoke almost daily and we had become great friends.  There were many late night conversations, spilling out our hopes, dreams, fears…  But, he was forbidden fruit, the tastiest of them all.  He was my best friend’s boyfriend.  After over a month of clandestine meetings, secret phone conversations, secrets, and lies, I came clean.  And within six months after that, we were no longer…

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The C Word : 30 Days of Truth

Warning: The following content can be considered graphical in nature.  It may contain material that may not be appropriate for certain audiences.  Children under the age of 13, those of the male gender, and others faint of heart may want to take extra care while viewing this.  Use your own discretion.

Day 16 : Someone or something you definitely could live without.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl.  She fancied herself wise and experienced in the world at the ripe young age of fifteen.  Since she was the age where she considered herself an adult, because she had an adult body, she started to do adult things.  Being in a monogamous, committed relationship, she decided herself old enough, and educated enough by the health classes in the public school system, to start having sex.

That naïve little girl grew up and discovered that her monogamous relationship existed only with one party.  Seeing as how she was much older now, at the ripe older age of 18, she considered herself naïve in the past, but much wiser now.  She knew of sexually transmitted diseases and let out a sigh of relief at the knowledge that she had used condoms at every frequent instance of sexual intercourse.

That girl, she is me.

Throughout the years, I had gained a new definition of relationships and explored my sexuality.  I wasn’t much for one night stands, I preferred a committed relationship, but as it turns out, I was not particularly good at staying monogamous.  Sometimes, I would have a momentary indiscretion and have repeat ex-sex.  Other times, I just fooled around with others for a self-esteem boost.  None without protection.

Protection is a term that should be used loosely with condoms.  When used correctly, condoms can prevent pregnancy in 99% of cases.

HPV doesn’t care about condoms.

I could live without HPV and the cancer it caused me.

For those of you that find yourself at a loss for the topic of HPV, I’ll give you a rundown.  Human Papilloma Virus is a sexually transmitted disease that transmits itself from contact to contact with partners.  It is a virus and can stay dormant in a person’s system for years, kind of like herpes.  Except, with HPV, there are often no immediate outward symptoms.  There is no way to tell if a person has contracted the virus with either partner.  It is a silent illness with a potential for being deadly, if left untreated.

HPV is actually so common that upwards of 50% of the population will contract the disease within their lifetime.  Being a virus, in many cases, especially with younger patients, the illness will resolve itself without any intervention.

Otherwise, it is an unimaginable hell.

In 2007, I underwent a colposcopy with a biopsy to determine the cause of my abnormal pap smear.  A colposcopy is a diagnostic procedure where the doctor sprays a solution on the cervix to make it clear.  Abnormal cells can be detected when they don’t turn clear.  If they are discovered, the area is biopsied to determine the progression of abnormality, essentially meaning cancerous in nature.

A pap smear is uncomfortable enough.  They take an instrument and scrape a layer of skin off of the cervix for testing.  It is one of the most painful gynecological procedures I had gone through at that point in time.

I was diagnosed with cervical dysplasia termed CIN-I, the least threatening development.  I was in my early 20’s, and the doctors had decided that I would get regular screenings to monitor it.  I was assured that it would resolve on its own, being that I was a younger woman with no history of chronic illness.

A year later, I was 34 weeks pregnant with my son.  The doctor had determined it was necessary to check on the dysplasia.  The growth had become bad enough that they risked preterm labor to get a sample.  CIN-II.  It was not resolving on its own.  I had defied statistics.

Six months later, the doctor performed another colposcopy with a biopsy.  CIN-III.  It had progressed again, one step before invasive cancer.  That was when I had my first surgery.

The surgery is actually a pretty outdated, but not quite as invasive, procedure with a very low success rate.  It was cryosurgery, where they take a cold probe and freeze the bad cells off.

For this surgery, they lied.  The doctors told me that it would be uncomfortable and not too unlike a colposcopy.  Seeing as how I endured one during late term pregnancy, I felt confident.  Instead, I ended up being left in a silent room with my legs in the air.  “Wait five minutes and then get up.  And you’ll be all done.’

I was alone in that room.  I attempted to sit and found that I couldn’t.  It was extraordinarily painful, and I rolled to one side on the table, nearly falling off.  I pulled myself up, and limped out of the office holding my stomach.

Everything from the waist down was in as much pain as it was postpartum.  I limped out to the parking lot, and had to stand to wait for my father.  I went home with no medicine, unmedicated bipolar disorder, a seven month old infant, and a gushing crotch.  They fail to mention that the cryosurgery makes you gush fluid for another month after the procedure.  And there is really no way of telling the success of the procedure until the next six month pap screening.

I had one good pap smear.  The next two showed abnormal cells.  I was back in the office for another colposcopy with a biopsy.  It revealed that I had developed CIN-II again and I required another more invasive surgery this time.

That surgery is called a LEEP procedure.  For this surgery, the doctors put the patient into a twilight state and take an electrified loop to the cervix.  In this instance, the doctors are able to tell post-op if they were successful.  My margins came back clear.  That was November 2011.  My first follow up in May 2011 came back clear.  It was the first time in four years that I had been cancer free.

In the latter progressions of this cancer, symptoms start to become evident.  Doctors say they are not, but in retrospect, they are.  First, I was getting sick constantly.  Every virus that came past, I contracted.  I had the flu twice a year every year since my diagnosis.  I had numerous cases of bronchitis and constant ear infections.

In addition, there were changes in my lower regions I didn’t immediately notice.  I spotted between periods.  I almost always bled after sex or any insertion of pretty much anything.  Bumping the cervix eventually became painful, and sex was not quite as enjoyable.

I was always tired.  I had always felt like I was worn down.

I find that I am worried today.  I panic over every instance of spotting.  I started getting colds again.  And I won’t be able to know if the cancer has returned until November, after my regularly scheduled screening.

What if I have to go through yet another biopsy?  Another surgery?  Each surgery reduced the chances of being able to carry a child to term.  I am not finished having children.  What if this never goes away?  What if I have to have organs removed?

This cancer has been the Sword of Damocles over my head, a constant threat, for five years now.  I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.

For more on my personal battle with HPV and cancer:

LEEP into Cin – Part 1 – The Story of how contracting HPV is possible.

LEEP into Cin Part 2 – The Story of the progression of the HPV

Leep into Cin Part 3 – The Story leading up to the most recent colposcopy and surgery

Fear and Loathing in Pittsburgh – Fear of the surgery consultation

Taking the Bullet – All of the what if’s about the surgery

Me and Magee – The LEEP procedure