My entire life, I’ve been searching for the feeling of being enough, even though I was never really sure what that meant. I just knew whatever it was, I wasn’t it.
I wasn’t enough to keep my parents from arguing. I wasn’t enough to keep my daddy from drinking himself into an early grave. I wasn’t enough for boys to like as a girlfriend in high school – always a friend, never a girlfriend. I wasn’t enough to venture off far from home for college. I wasn’t enough to follow my dreams of becoming a dancer. I wasn’t enough to fight off depression and make ways to follow my goals. I wasn’t enough to make my mentally abusive, non-committing boyfriend of 8 years marry me.
And even when I found the man of my dreams, a man who loved me, who went out of his way to do romantic things for me, who knew he wanted to marry me only months after dating me and made me feel like I was finally enough, it didn’t last for long. The years passed and soon, I was feeling once again like I wasn’t enough.
I wasn’t enough to make him be more affectionate. I wasn’t enough to make him treat me like he did when we were first dating. I wasn’t enough to keep that spark in his eye every day. I wasn’t enough to keep everything together at work and at home. I wasn’t enough to keep him happy all the time. I wasn’t enough to keep us happy all the time.
Then I had my children and, for the first time, I had these people who undoubtedly loved me, regardless of anything else. Regardless of how I looked. Regardless of how much money I made. Regardless of how clean the house was. Regardless of whether I was feeling overly goofy or extremely depressed. I had no faults in their eyes. Maybe it was because they had no idea what faults were? No matter the reason, I was their mother, and they loved me. Their eyes looked up at me with joy whenever I entered the room. Their arms wanted to hold me, even when I didn’t feel worthy of being held. Their mouths expressed their love, even after evenings of me screaming at them and trying to escape the stress of my day by staring at the screen of my smart phone.
But eventually, it happened, just like it did with everyone else… I began to feel like I wasn’t enough for them. I couldn’t be at home with them every second to take care of all their needs AND go to work to earn money to help them get the things they needed and wanted. As I looked at their peaceful sleeping faces at night, I relived all the moments during the day when I could have done more, been more. But, I was too busy. I was too depressed. I was letting them down. I was failing them. I knew it. They were growing so fast, and I was just screwing it all up. They were missing the perfect childhood I intended to give them. I wasn’t enough to give them what they deserved. Even with my children, the people who were supposed to love me no matter what, I began to feel like I wasn’t enough.
And that’s when it hit me. I was the only one measuring my “enoughness”. I wasn’t enough for me.
I wasn’t enough for the expectations I put on myself to somehow please all those around me and to be who I thought they wanted me to be – the perfect person I thought they deserved. It never dawned on me that those who were worth it were there because they thought I was already enough. And I was projecting my doubts about being enough onto those around me, making my relationships much more difficult and my self-esteem that much lower.
My endless pursuit of being everything to everyone made me feel like I was lacking all the time.
It started before I was even old enough to know what I was doing. I was a young girl wanting to make my parents stop fighting. I wanted to make my sisters stop being scared and worried. I wanted everyone to be happy. And when they weren’t, I decided it was because I wasn’t good enough to make it that way.
It’s still a struggle, but I remind myself often that I don’t have to busy myself with trying to be perfect. I am enough just being me. And being me is actually much easier.
When I can almost always find something to laugh at no matter how stressful or sad the situation is, I am enough. When I laugh my loud, sometimes asthmatic sounding laugh, I am enough. When I want to stay in the house and play with my kids because, today, mommy just can’t fight her bout of depression, I am enough. When I break down and eat several slices of pizza, because hey, pizza is really good, I am enough.
When I wake up, throw my hair in a clip, skip the makeup and only put on sunscreen, and wear just a t-shirt, jeans, and my smile, I am enough. When I compliment strangers because I like what they are doing or wearing and love to make people feel good, I am enough. When I overshare on social media because I know my vulnerability will allow someone else to feel “normal” or not alone in their struggles, I am enough. When I look at my children and in my eyes, they can see the love beaming straight from my heart, I am enough.
And so are you.