Am I enough? That is a big question. And what does it really mean? Think of all of the times you have found yourself saying (or thinking) “I’m not strong enough” or “I’m not pretty enough” or maybe even “I’m not smart enough.” I don’t know about you, but I know that those three and so many other “not enough” statements have invaded my brain, sometimes even looping themselves long enough for me to actually believe that they are the truth. Sad, huh?
I started thinking about writing this post when several of my friends, in separate conversations, talked to me about not feeling like they are “enough.” Then a therapist I went to school with posted a tattoo she just had done that simply said “I am enough.” Talk about a sign that this is an important topic! So, here we go…
Last week I was in the car with a friend I have known for over 25 years. She’s had a rough couple of years having lost her 39-year old husband unexpectedly leaving her to be a single parent to her three beautiful children. We were having a great time, laughing over some pretty ridiculous stuff (which felt good considering the last few times we hung out were more like therapy sessions for both us!) when she turns to me and asks “Do you ever feel like you aren’t enough?” What?! Where did that come from, K? Anyway, I was honest and told her that I have often felt that way, but lately my thinking has shifted. Dramatically. Well, most days.
I don’t know when or how the notion of not being enough started to take up residency in my mind, but I don’t think I can remember a time in my life when it wasn’t there, lurking in the dark corners of my thoughts or the empty crevasses of my heart just waiting to invade and break me down. I can, however, tell you when I nearly let it take complete control over me. I won’t ever forget the day. May 8, 2014. That is the date that has since become the invisible marker between what was and what is. The before and after. That is the date that I found the security clearance application of P’s on our desk that so simply said, “Please note that I will be going through a divorce at the time of my deployment.” Yep, that is how I found out. A fucking piece of paper. So, in that moment, a “not enough” silently crept in and said “you aren’t even worthy enough of a face-to-face conversation.” From that moment on, I was inundated with these messages. Maybe I wasn’t pretty enough anymore. Maybe I wasn’t fun enough. Or perhaps I wasn’t attentive enough (yeah, that’s a good one when adultery comes into play.) All of those messages were like an invisible finger pointing straight at me saying that I wasn’t enough to keep my husband around. I somehow felt short. I didn’t meet the expectations. And I let that eat at me for almost two years, listening to it day in and day out. From the first thought waking up to the last thought before falling asleep. Hell, it even invaded my dreams more times than I can even count. That’s a long time to beat the shit out of yourself. It finally got old. I got tired of it.
Have I mentioned at all how blessed I am with some pretty awesome people in my life? Well I am. And those people day in and day out tirelessly flooded me with messages to the exact opposite of what I had been allowing to take over. They told me they loved me. They told me I was smart. That I was pretty. That I was strong. And funny. And fun. And hardworking. And pretty fucking awesome. They told me I am enough. And before long, I actually started to believe it. And the only person I need to be enough for is myself. See, the reason my marriage didn’t survive wasn’t because I wasn’t enough of one thing or another. I didn’t fall short. I didn’t fail. It didn’t survive because someone made a shitty choice. Several times. And those choices weren’t about me. At all. They were about him and his own feelings of not being enough. I didn’t know that at the time. But I do now.
I am enough. I know this. Most days. Sure, I have moments when I catch myself in a boxing match – me vs. me. I said I am enough; I didn’t say I am perfect. But most days I truly believe that I am enough. And that impacts how I interact with people in my life. I am not scared to be authentic and tell someone how I feel. Or tell someone that I am a pretty amazing person (in a humble way, of course!) I am not afraid to take risks and go for what I want in life, personally or professionally. I am more capable of setting boundaries now because I know that I don’t have to give in to others all the time just to convince them (and myself) that I am enough. And all of that feels pretty damn good.
Are you enough? I think so.