MY problem is lifelong low self-esteem. I am 57 and have tried to overcome it, but feel that I have not achieved as much in my life as I could have done. Always shy and introverted (because my early home life was not so happy), I remember that I was happy before puberty, but not since.
In the absence of the 11-plus, my self-confidence was right when my sister died to go to high school. I hated high school; it was terrible and I didn't do it right – math was a huge stumbling block.
Thought of the day
My friend's grandparents married
Three weeks after they first met. . .
. . . I think of them when I need to be reminded
Sometimes we have to take risks.
From There is Handholding Still by John Osborne (poet and screenwriter, born 1981).
When I failed my CSE, I was so embarrassed. I was horrible to my best friend when comparing results – and we never had contact again. I wanted someone to sit down and give me support, but all my parents argued. They are both dead now.
I am happily married to a man who deserves a medal for enduring me!
We have two daughters – one is married and is expecting a baby soon, which I will probably take care of. The other has moderate learning difficulties, which was a challenge in the past, but is better. Now that she is home after her studies, she has no confidence and sometimes it is a struggle to get her out the door.
Work never worked for me. I can get jobs, but I can't keep them – which increases my low self-esteem.
I would like to work, but I don't have the confidence to try again.
I am an Avon representative and have joined groups – walking, "knitting and wetter", picking junk, etc.
I also did volunteer work for ten years, which was good. But I wanted to pass my level 2 math exam to try to get ahead in life, but that didn't work because of exam stress.
I feel that I don't belong because I don't work. When people ask me what I do, the answer appears to be & # 39; a housewife & # 39; shameful. I am very lucky that my family and I are close by and I know they love me, which really helps. I have visited places and did things that I always wanted to do, but I still feel insufficient.
I know my low self-esteem is holding me back, but I don't know which way to go. I continue to fail, so any advice is greatly appreciated.
This week Bel advises a shy woman who has suffered from lifelong low self-esteem and self-confidence
This problem will mystify some readers and resonate with others. Many people reach middle age with the feeling that life did not give birth.
Minor failures along the way emerge as time goes by – but having said that, few people would be tormented by crazy CSE mathematics at the age of 57, so I think we should investigate further why you are being chased by this & # 39; lifelong low self-esteem & # 39 ;.
Your home life was clearly unhappy. A child who is constantly upset by quarreling parents can grow up and feel intensely insecure – because you never know when it will blow up next time. You may feel that their mood is somehow your fault, so you want to satisfy them all the more.
More from Bel Mooney for the Daily Mail …
If you then think that you have abandoned them (the 11 plus not achieved) and if those feelings are never discussed sympathetically, if reassurance is not given, then the stage is set for a life of melancholy discomfort in which all challenges can be avoided if they lead to more failure.
Yes, many readers will recognize those feelings. But others will wonder why it still hinders you so much. I think of people who are not lucky enough to have a happy marriage. You are loved and you know it. You are also about to become a grandmother. Those gifts should count a lot – and I hope you realize that.
Yes, you have had problems with one of your daughters – but let me tell you, many parents will read it and say: & # 39; Welcome to our club. & # 39; It is how life is (or has been) for many of us who have also seen great change.
I am not saying that to bring you down, only to remind you not to give up hope (about your daughter), nor to judge with such determined negativity that others can be jealous. And what about saying that as an adult you have never been happy – just to tell us about your marriage and that you have done things that I always wanted to do & # 39 ;.
Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are lucky. Please. Yet you still worry about annoying math! Listen, I didn't pass the O level of mathematics and I didn't look back.
And why are you ashamed that you have no job? There is nothing wrong with that at all – especially if you expand your volunteer work. This is the direction in which you can "move forward". I should probably recommend therapy for inadequacy, etc. – but for now just try to fold your fingers in front of you (in prayer / determination) and repeat aloud: "I am enough."
Why have friends ignored my grief?
I'm in a dilemma. Years ago, a good, long-term friend of mine never recognized the death of my parents in any way.
Not a word. Yet I was always there for her with my love and support when things went wrong. I also try to be that way with all my other friends, because I feel it is in my DNA to be sensitive if that doesn't sound so strange.
But now that feeling of real sadness and disappointment has happened again – with another, long-term friend.
A close-knit young family member died in my family, so naturally I sent a message to this friend. No beeping sound came back until late in the evening – and she usually answers right away. It was just a short text to ask how I was doing.
Am I unreasonable to think that my friend should have said more and showed that she was there for me – because I (and still) was very emotional and upset?
I know I would have done much more for her if the situation were reversed. Friends I have only recently known have shown more support.
WHAT a sad loss this is (especially because your family member was young), and I am so sorry for you and the rest of your family.
This week I chose your short letter because it speaks of a subject that is very dear to me: mourning.
What's more, it is a topic that keeps coming back to this page because every time someone loses a loved one (every day of course) you can be sure that they will probably be disappointed by the reaction of someone they know.
Unless you are very lucky, this will happen – and I'm afraid it must endure.
In all the years that I have been writing and broadcasting mourning (actually since 1976) the anecdotes have been flooded: the neighbor who crossed the road not to talk to you, the warm knowledge that crept behind a rack in a clothing store, the in-laws who had a gift delivered to a taxi instead of a personal call (that happened to me), the guys who fell short in the pub when you came in and then started talking about football with grim determination, the old friend who, much later, sheepishly stated that she had not been in contact because she & # 39; did not know what to say & # 39 ;.
And so on. Every story may sound trivial, but it reveals terrible shoals of insensitivity and selfishness in those who failed, and depths of pain in those who mourned.
For readers in general, let me give you advice you didn't ask for. Send an SMS or e-mail if someone you know has the loss of a loved one.
If you are in the area, pay a visit – if only to leave flowers and a note at the door. If you are at a distance, pick up the phone. Or take paper and a pen and write a good letter, because you will find that this is cherished above all else.
If you have no idea what to say, just find some uplifting words online (there are plenty of them) and copy them. People need a death to be recognized. Someone who has walked this earth no longer does that – and that is important. Please remember.
The only way to cope, Mary, is to explain the neglect away in terms of terror. Yes, people are so terrified of their own mortality that they run screaming from the skull into the mirror – that the Halloween head that was celebrated a week ago & # 39;
It is so ironic that October 31 has again become an annual trade party when people are happy with a horror show of skulls, blood, ghosts, graves and spiders – and yet those same people are probably not able to handle the real thing.
Regardless of how attitudes toward death appear to have changed, no matter how many mourning counselors try to help, loss will always be a lonely thing.
You long to ask questions, share memories, feel the arm around your shoulders that says, "I know how you feel and really feel with it."
But if (when?) Those you care about do not give you the support you need, then there is no alternative but to expect and accept. Otherwise you would drown in your own tears.
So I suggest that you are happy with the attention of those newer friends who have been kind, but think of the perceived neglect you have experienced from others as part of the human condition.
It's not about being kind to them, but about saving yourself sadness and stress. Because you already have enough, don't you?
So step by step – knowing that those we have loved and lost walk all the way beside us and urge us to live our lives in beauty for their sake.
And finally … Hate for the elderly is toxic
This column is no place for anger, but many of you tell me that you feel like you really know me – so why should I cheat on you by hiding my feelings?
Young people talk forever about & # 39; triggers & # 39; who offend. Well, I'm good and really triggered and feel like a gangster & moll with a six-shooter in my stocking!
It was a young woman named Joanna Jarjue who did it. She & # 39; played & # 39; in The Apprentice, but who would promote someone so intolerant and outdated?
Jarjue argued on TV that people over 70 are not allowed to vote. A new survey has indeed shown that 47 percent of 16-34 year-olds are in favor of banning the over-70s from the franchise. Can you believe this?
Please contact Bel
Bel answers readers' questions about emotional and relationship issues every week.
Write to Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you wish, a pseudonym is used.
Bel reads all letters but regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.
Since the EU referendum there has been an increase in annoying ageism – and not just among the young. The novelist Ian McEwan (71) joked about the death of the older idiots who voted for Leave – hurray, he thinks, more for Remain.
Left journalists have received the same contempt. For a while there was even a website that kept track of how many old Brexit voters had died since 2016.
My colleague Richard Littlejohn likes to say & # 39; you can't make it right & # 39; and boy, is he right! This hatred for the elderly is toxic.
I write "elderly" but these people are talking about me. And many of you. And Helen Mirren and Keith Richards.
Will fascist youth in jackboots take us all to be euthanized? Our accumulated wisdom, power, experience and pure bloody style only fit in the knacker's garden? That is in contrast to unfortunate millennials who are ignorant of the timing, reasons and pain of the Second World War.
The point is that this attitude is so damn cool. "Woke" folk like Jarjue talk endlessly about "diversity" – but only the kind that suits them.
They are blinking like nineteenth-century toffs, without an excuse for different times. Prejudice is not a good appearance. Make yourself sound like your great-great-grandfather.
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