I wondered how Martha managed to find a fiancée if she evidenced such low self esteem and recurring depressive episodes. She’s even suicidal.
In-session, Martha’s self esteem was manifested always to an extreme to be based on what she thinks others think of her.
Constantly, she felt uncertain, helpless, and frightened on the inside. She disguised her low self esteem by efforts to impress others.
Despite her fears, Martha risked a romantic relationship. Eventually, she became “in love” and entered a “survival pact” with her boyfriend.
The trouble was, when she chose a mate, that Martha did not communicate her fears to her partner. She feared that her partner would not love her if she knew about her feelings of worthlessness.
Martha’s partner saw her as confident and strong. Yet she expressed misery about it. She privately expected and felt she must be what he thought about her.
In effect, Martha had actually put the other person in charge of her self esteem.
Therapist and author Virginia Satir writes,
“I have talked about choosing rather than acting from compulsion. When you feel that you have to live according to someone else’s direction or live so that you never disappoint or hurt anybody, then your life is a continual assessment of whether or not you please other people.”
In the context of intimate relationships, Satir further explains, if one has or both partners have low self esteem, each behaves as if he/she were saying …
“I am nothing. I will live for you.”
“I am nothing. So please live for me.”
With this unprocessed, will a relationship survive? Is it realistic? Can it be functional?