Inherent Worth

*This is the first in a series I’m working on doing about Self Love in honor of Valentines Day*

If you’ve heard me mention church before, you may have been curious about what religion I belong to. Or not. But either way, stick with me for a bit.

I’m a Unitarian Universalist, part of the .3% of people in the US that are. We have a reputation for being overly liberal, for picking and choosing what parts of religion we like, and for being all around stinking hippies.

We’re also known for running late. For everything.

We’re able to be such an open community because unlike many other religions, we have no dogma or creed, and we don’t require anyone to believe anything. What we do have, however, are 7 Principles that describe what we believe Unitarian Universalism is all about.

So why am I talking so much about church?

It’s because of the first of our 7 Principles. The number one thing that UUs think is important is ‘The Inherent Worth and Dignity of Every Person.’ 

Every time I say this, I get warm fuzzies, because this is something that I feel strongly about. I believe in respecting everyone, and knowing that no matter who I’m talking to, that they’re important.

But what does this have to do with Self Love?

I’ve realized over the last year that I’ve been letting my favorite Principle down. In all my intellectual respecting of people, I forgot one thing: Me.

I am a person, and I have inherent worth and dignity. How could I miss this? I’ve been pretty awful to myself for a long time now, and I definitely haven’t treated myself as though I had worth or dignity.

So what does it mean to treat myself as though I have worth? I need to stop telling myself that I’m worthless, for sure. Because I do have worth- inherent worth even, just by existing. And I think I need to be more gentle with myself- I’m doing the best that I can right now, and even if I’m not able to do everything, I’m still worthy of having a good life.

And for dignity? I need to start respecting myself. Looking deep inside and finding pride in who I am. I think that treating yourself with dignity is a great foundation for self love, because all it asks is that you give yourself the care and respect that you’d give another person.

Even after researching and intellectualizing and writing this, I still find it hard to hold in my head, but I think it will come with practice. I think for many of us, self love is a challenge because we, as humans, tend to compare ourselves to others, and I know for me, when I’m surrounded by people my age who are successful functioning adults, I tend to get down on myself. I forget that while doing everything that my peers can do would be nice, I’m not them. But no matter what I can or can’t do, I inherently have two things.

Worth and Dignity.

Stage Fright

I’m standing in front of a crowed room, heart racing, ears pounding, because I know that in mere moments, I’ll have to talk to the entire room about…sex.

No, it wasn’t a nightmare, and I wasn’t talking about the act of sex, but about the sexuality spectrum, but oh man, was I nervous.

I sit on a committee at my church that is called Welcoming Congregations, and we are the people that represent the LGBTQ+ population. We do  Teach Ins, and educational seminars. We handle the Pride services, and our float for the parade, and we put on a really inclusive Coffee House every year called Feel the Love, that attracts everyone who wants to talk or play or sing about love of any  kind.

Today, we held a seminar about Gender. We covered Gender Identity, Gender Expression, Sex Assigned at Birth, Sexual Attraction, and  Emotional Attraction. We had a different speaker for each section, and for reasons I still don’t understand, I volunteered to present one.

I don’t volunteer for things. I think it’s partially an Autism thing, in the sense that I don’t like doing things if I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. And in my experience, what’s required from a volunteer will change at least a few times from beginning to end.

My need for sameness can’t handle that.

I also have a ‘no public speaking’ rule. When I was freaking out about this event, I started trying to figure out why I hate talking in front of people so much. Because I’m not afraid of people judging me, I ruled that one out pretty fast. And none of the other reasons for stage fright, like the inability to handle pressure, don’t apply to me either.

It took me a few days, but I think I figured it out. I’m not afraid of being judged, I’m afraid of outing myself.

Which is ridiculous, I’m a proud and outspoken Autistic Person, and everyone at my church knows it, so why am I so afraid?

I’m afraid because I suck at public speaking. And while, even as a youngster I was pretty good at fitting in and faking it, public speaking is not something that I could disguise. I don’t know who to make eye contact with. I struggle to control the volume of my voice. I can’t even follow along with my notes, which makes me mumble along with an uneven cadence.

And because of all of these, somewhere deep inside of me, I knew that if I was forced to give a speech or a presentation, everyone would know what I was.

Different.

I think that feeling is still inside me somewhere, and sometimes it comes out and takes the form of a boulder that sits on my chest, at the most inconvenient of times. I’m hoping if I acknowledge it, and remind it that now that I’m an adult, I’m not afraid of being different, not afraid of being who I am, that it will eventually fade.

And hopefully one day, I’ll be able to speak in from of people without the fear sitting on my chest.

The Buddy Song

So about a month ago, I had a very bad day. All of the things that I usually manage pretty well were just off the charts. Every little sensory thing was bothering me, I was rigid about anything and everything, and I was semi-verbal at best. Not that any of that is inherently bad, but it made me really stressed out. And my wife, well, over the years, she’s learned a lot about the best ways to help me on days like this. And even as overwhelmed as I was, I also held a strong feeling of appreciation towards her. Because she’s awesome. The next day, when I got my words back, I made a declaration to myself. I’m going to write a poem! It’ll be a deep and meaningful spoken word piece, and it’ll say everything that I’m thinking and feeling.

Yeah. So that didn’t happen. It turns out that I’m less of a deep spoken word poet and more of a bouncy rhyming couplets sort of poet. I fought the rhymes for a while, but eventually I gave in. It still basically said what I wanted, and after my wife read it, she immediately declared that it would make a great song. So we broke out the ukulele, she figured out some vocals, and pretty soon, we had a bouncy, rhyming, 4 chord song. Which I never planned to let anyone hear. I bet you can guess how long that lasted.

I ended up playing it at church this morning, during a service about how to be welcoming. I read a poem for a member of my young adult’s group. He is a much better poet than I, but is also nonverbal, so he usually asks someone to read for him. His poem lead into my song well, and I think the two of us did a really good job representing the Neurodivergant Community. I also got to talk to a few parents of autistic kids, which was really cool! Anyway, here’s a video of the song (I’m the one with the ukulele hiding behind the music stand. My wife Jess is the one with the awesome voice.), and lyrics below.

Introduction

Our people don’t realize what they do for us sometimes

They know how to communicate with us

They can tell our happy flaps from our anxious flaps

They know that the blue bowls are only for cereal

They can interact with the world- then filter it for us

They are there when we need them

(And hopefully they feel the same way)

 

The Buddy Song

Do you have your buddy

It doesn’t matter who

What’s nice about a buddy

Is they really care for you

 

Do you have your buddy

Interpreter and spy

Without their information

   You’d be left just asking why

 

Chorus:

Buddies walk through life with you

But you will share things with them too

The ups and downs, the tears and fights

You stick together, wrong or right

 

Do you have your buddy

And do they understand

That being someone’s buddy

Is exploring a new land

 

Do you have your buddy

The one with magic powers

Their wand sends meltdowns far away

They never think to cower

 

Chorus:

Buddies walk through life with you

But you will share things with them too

The ups and downs, the tears and fights

You stick together, wrong or right

 

Do you have your buddy

And do you think they know

That you’re as lost as they are

And you both just want to go

 

Do you have your buddy

A mom or spouse or friend

Yes they love you even if

Your struggles never end

 

Chorus:

Buddies walk through life with you

But you will share things with them too

The ups and downs, the tears and fights

You stick together, wrong or right

 

I can be your buddy

I hope that means that I

Can show you things through my eyes

Things you’d otherwise pass by

 

Chorus:

Buddies walk through life with you

But you will share things with them too

The ups and downs, the tears and fights

You stick together, wrong or right