Low self-esteem and depression: the benefits of facing self hate and moving into self love

Molly, 38 and single, entered therapy very depressed and hating herself. Her goals were to honor her own needs, be in a romantic relationship and feel more fulfilled at work. Although feeling desperate and as if she was beyond hope, Molly had nowhere else to turn.

Growing up, Molly’s father was neglectful, abandoned the family, and left them in poverty. Molly had no space to voice her own needs and was valued only for making her mother feel okay. Molly’s mother with her own unhealed issues had a series of abusive relationships with men while Molly was growing up. Needing to feel loved by men, sexually abused by one of her mother’s boyfriends as a teenager and raped as a young adult, Molly did not trust men nor know how relate to them with confidence. Consequently, Molly learned to take care of others at her own expense.

Over the past 2 years, I have helped Molly to see the self-sacrifice required of her as a child. She is releasing the guilt and shame that have caused her to feel as if she does not deserve to have needs of her own. I have helped her develop the capacity to have empathy for herself, and to reconnect with and express her feeling so that she can begin to know what she really wants.

No longer trapped with emotions that she does not comprehend or have control over, Molly understands herself better. Consequently, her depressive symptoms are almost entirely gone. She is now able to say no to others and hear what she authentically wants. She is exploring her lack of trust in men, beginning to understand why she is single, and do the work necessary to rectify this. She is finding more value in her work, has been promoted, has a staff that supports her, and she can now say that she likes herself.

© 2008 - 2018 Jennifer Lehr, MFT