When I was younger I remember watching a show called PRISONER. It was an Australian soap opera based around women inmates and their lives in prison. In Canada the same show was called CAGED WOMEN. In referencing this t.v soap opera I am not so much blogging about the story lines within the show, but rather drawing your attention to ‘prison life’, or more aptly put ‘caged women’.
There were many years that I felt as though I was living as a ‘caged woman’. Locked up within myself and unable to escape.
While I have never actually visited a prison I have seen enough on t.v and the movies to know that the environment is cold, isolating, frightening, harsh, restrictive and controlled (for obvious reasons) and volatile. I would assume that prisoners could perhaps feel claustrophobic, regretful; hate, mistrusting or perhaps feel nothing at all. Prisoners are kept in cells which are highly protected and monitored. Locked up behind bars! Prison is set up to keep criminals away from society. They are serving time for crimes committed. There are inmates that are serving time for the rest of their lives. Crime is just that, a crime! These prisoners have made choices and done crime which has resulted in them being judged before a court and sentenced to jail.
As a very ordinary young girl I had not committed any crimes however I lived as though I was locked up in a prison. There were areas of my heart that were locked up behind bars. While there were days that I dreamed about being free from this internal prison I just did not know how that was possible. For years it looked as though it was going to be a life sentence.
It isn’t a crime to struggle with low self-esteem, however there are a lot of similarities being a prisoner in your own skin to that of being an actual ‘prisoner’. There are days that feel very isolating and lonely. The environment of your heart and mind is filled with negativity and self-hatred. Thoughts overwhelm you such as; why am I so ugly, so shy, so unwanted, so rejected, so misunderstood, so hopeless, so helpless and on and on and on….. It is an ugly place…..A painful place…..
When you glance over at other people’s lives and then glance back at your own you believe the lie that they are all better than you and you are NOTHING.
As a prisoner in your own skin there is no need of a security guard to keep you locked up, you are the one that keeps yourself in there. In particular situations it is safer to stay locked up. You don’t want any visitors or interactions with anyone. Even though you are not a criminal you feel that no one is going to like you so why bother trying to make any friends as past experience has shown only rejection to be true, how could it be anything else?
It never crossed my mind as a young person that if I didn’t like myself then I was going to project that to others. It was a constant battle where one part of me wanted to be accepted and to have lots of friends and the other part of me would behave as though people would reject me so I unknowingly would set the scene for rejection before it had a chance to happen. This obviously did not work in my favour it was too complex for me to understand so the cycle continued.
When you are broken on the inside the outside is broken too! It just works hand in hand. Without repairing the brokenness on the inside the outside will reflect what the inside is feeling.
Low self- esteem or hating one- self is almost like being put into solitary confinement. There is not much space to move around. You are confined as a person restricted inside your own heart. The only voices you are hearing are that of your own which are not very positive. While you may have the freedom to do as others do such as going to work and living life, on the inside you are not free to enjoy the experience.
You are not the criminal, low self-esteem ‘the robber’ has entered in at some stage and tricked you into believing that you are never going to be good enough or wanted in this lifetime.
The true criminal here is ‘low self- esteem’. My experience with this criminal is that when I allowed unforgiveness and hurts to stay in my heart I unknowlingly gave permission or entry for low self-esteem to be in charge of the keys to my freedom.
After I discovered that all I needed to do was let go of old hurts then I was able to take back those keys and unlock myself from this prison that had kept me confined and bound.
Although I had been released from this prison inside my own skin it has taken several years to truly understand what it is to be free to live as myself. Every step forward has given me more courage to live the freedom that was intended for me. It is not an overnight process. If you can imagine that someone who has been confined for such a long time is not going to just venture out and let loose once they are set free from a cage. There is a process to walk through and a mind and heart that need renewing.
We are not created to live as prisoners in our own skins. It does not need to be a life sentence; I thought it was my lot in life. Not the case! Once you realise the truth there is no turning back. There is no way I would ever want to go back and be held hostage by low-self -esteem.
My prayer and hope is that readers who identify this as their life right now would be brave and willing to let go of whatever it is that has hurt you and take back those keys of freedom for your own life!