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The first man who should have been my hero, my protector, my defender told me no man would love me if I could not keep a clean house or cook. Consequently, I learnt to cook but cleaning…

I felt hot shame and anger. I was not worthy.

Years later, my inability to keep a tidy house was sited as a reason for my divorce.

I remember those words piercing my heart. I felt shame. I was not worthy.

The next man that came into my life, was my protector for a while. I do not remember when he changed. When he told me if I did not behave in a certain way he would leave me. And so I tried, I tried really hard. I learnt to hold my tongue for a while, I learnt to say nothing but every now and then the anger at the injustice of having to be silent would burn up inside me and I would say something and then I would hear the threat again. If I did not behave, he would leave me. I was destined to fail. I had failed my children too.

I felt hot shame and guilt. I was not worthy.

Men then entered and exited my life in a night. I had lost my voice, I had lost myself.

I felt hot shame. I was not worthy.

The next man to enter was a good man. He gave me back some of my worth. I was grateful.

And then a wonderfully good man entered my life. But he had a secret himself, and that secret destroyed my value I had as a woman. His desire to be normal, to fit in the world, used me to protect himself. It was painful to learn the truth. It was painful to feel the loss.

I did not feel shame just pain. And the pain became shame. I was not worthy.

And then another man entered my life. Again I could do no right. I feared the unpredictable anger. I watched patiently to see what mood would prevail and I would act accordingly. This time I felt relief to walk away, even though I grieved.

I felt no shame. I felt no guilt. But I felt unworthy.

And the last man. A beautifully sad man, his eyes could see the beauty within me. Yet he could not see the beauty of my body, my insignificant breast, my unflattering stomach. He made me feel shame again but this shame was merely a reflection of his own shame for his own ‘unattractive’ beautiful body. He was blind to his own beauty, his own goodness. His shame became my shame. I wanted to give him my eyes so he could see clearly. Yet, I should have realised at the start when he is said, ‘I could love you but…’ that I should have walked away then. I wanted to believe he could change! I wanted to believe he could see his true self through me.

His shame became my shame. I felt unworthy.

And to the first man, who loved me but judged me. I forgive you for you knew no better.

No longer will I accept it. I am worthy!

Today I am worthy, tomorrow I am worthy.

I will always be worthy.