This has led me to always measure my worth by how much I can give as compared to how much I take away. What I can achieve for work or projects, what I can give to friends or family, what I can give back to the world. Never as a person, only as a tool to achieve things. It's why I will lend or outright give money to friends in need, but never feel comfortable accepting aid in return. It's why I'll be a shoulder to cry on and give whatever advice I can, but I never feel comfortable accepting advice or help from others. Hell, I always feel lousy when I actually ask my roommates for the rent checks, even though I /do/ at least do that.
Moreover, it leads to my self-esteem and self-confidence being entirely based on how well I do at doing things for others. If I mess up, I take it far too much to heart and blame myself for it. If I do a job wrong by mistake, I internalize it as just another blow to self-confidence...even though EVERYONE slips up sometimes. I learn from my mistakes, but I also dwell on them longer than I should, letting them affect me far too much. And when I let them affect me, it adds a little more to feeling worthless, or not trusting my own judgment or feelings.
This has led to something rather like an abusive cycle. I give to others, and I try not to ask in return. Intellectually, I know that life is give and take; even between friends, there are times when you need to ask for something or express yourself...and I rarely do it. And it's even worse when I'm unemployed; I feel like I'm no longer giving back to the world, no longer a productive part of society...and that I live really on the sufferance of others. As a result, I let others pretty much do whatever they want; I don't protest, I don't fight back. And I've gotten so good at this that most people don't even /realize/ that they're crossing boundaries where in normal life it'd lead to an argument and the establishment of boundaries...part of normal friendship; misunderstandings lead to better understanding. But with me, they don't realize they're doing it -- I hate confrontation and so I never say anything anyway -- and I let it keep happening. And because I let it keep happening -- and because it /does/ happen -- I end up feeling even more worthless, reinforcing that I'm only good for what I can give.
And today, I had a bit of an emotional realization. I get so angry over what a certain individual did to me in the past, how he abused and used me and made me feel worthless and good for nothing except giving him what he wanted; I feel ill when I see him showing up again, not just because of what he did but because I resent and hate what he made me feel. And yet...I'm doing that to myself. I'm letting others do to me, in a more subtle way, precisely what he did to me. Letting them determine my worth, putting up no protest when boundaries are crossed...and yet I'm not angry over it, when I probably should be. Sure, the slug did it deliberately and knowingly, while the other stuff is simply because I don't broadcast my boundaries or make them known...but that doesn't change the fact that it /is/ happening.
I need to change this. I need to learn to say no, to tell people when they're crossing a line, and to stand up for myself and actually /say/ things when people are pushing me. I don't really know /how/, but it's like something's snapped inside. When I got the call from Quicksilver and made the transition mentally from 'unemployed, worthless' to 'about to be gainfully employed again' -- simultaneously to the slug's reappearance the other day...it snapped things into perspective all at once.
It'll take time, but it's something I /do/ need to do.