You Are Enough

A note from the author: I am you. I have been where you’ve been. I have felt what you feel. I get what you are going through. Because I have been there. I have learned so much. If I had to do it over again, there are valuable things I would tell the younger me. I would sit her beside me, hold her hand, and share with her the most essential and important lessons I’ve learned. This is what I would want her to know. -Mary Rose

The most essential thing I would say to myself is, "You are enough." This has always been a big issue with me. I never felt I was enough. I know this is a universal feeling that we all have at times, but I seem to have gotten it in spades. I think my deep issue with never feeling like enough stems from my relationship - or lack of relationship - with my mother. I could never seem to connect with my mom, and I always thought that if I was more, maybe things would have been different between us. My mother was an overwhelming force in my life, and our history is complicated. It is a difficult relationship at best and had caused a great deal of pain and confusion. It has taken me a long time to get to a place of peace; and I still struggle. But it was also a great gift to me, for it made me who I am. And for that, I am grateful.

I never connected with my mother, not really on any level. When I look at it through adult eyes, I see a troubled woman who had her own issues, and who was in a constant battle with herself. The child in me still feels the holding back of her love and approval. My older sister and I were only 13 months apart, and we were completely different, in looks and personality and temperament. My mom really identified with my sister, who was very shy, and had great insecurities. I think she saw a lot of her younger self in Beth, and that really contributed to our issues. I heard this phrase, history does not repeat itself, WE repeat history. So true.Why? Because it’s all we know. My mom couldn’t love more than one person at a time; and that was what she learned from her mother.  I always had the feeling that Mom was pushing me down and away to make Beth feel better about herself; it was as if I was less, then Beth would be more. And I thought if I did that and made myself less, then Mom would love me more. It seemed to me that I was tugging on her, pleading silently,“Please pay some attention to me, please give me some time.” I never felt special to her. I’m sure that’s why I have such a deep need to feel special to people. I believe we continue to search for what we didn’t receive when we were children, even in adulthood.

There was simply this missing link that I couldn’t put my finger on. And I always felt it was my fault that we weren’t close.  The best word I can use to describe it is hungry. I was just so hungry for a connection. Growing up, there was an “every man for himself” attitude at my house. It was a very conditional love. If you were perfect, Mom’s version of perfect, then you were loved. I know now it wasn’t that I was unlovable; but it was, that I had a mother who had issues with loving, and was unable to love more than one person at a time. I spent so much of my life seeking my mother’s acceptance and approval, and I’m embarrassed and ashamed when I think about it. It took me a long time to see that it wasn’t my fault that Mom didn’t love me the way I needed to be loved. 

All of this fed my thinking that I wasn’t enough. I constantly had this hollow, anxious, empty feeling. That became my normal. When someone close to you rejects you, even in subtle ways, it can really alter your perception of yourself. I spent so much time being what everyone else wanted, or what I thought they wanted. I lived for other’s expectations, not my own. I saw myself through the lenses of other people. In trying so hard to get people to like me, I forgot to like me. If I was perfect,or, rather, someone else’s version of perfect, then I would be loved.  Jane Fonda says, “We are not meant to be perfect; we are meant to be whole.

I always felt so guilty about not  having a real connection with my mom. I loved her, but I didn’t really like her. But - feelings aren’t right or wrong; they just ARE. And the smartest part of ourselves are our feelings - they never lie. There is a reason you feel the way you do! Listen to those feelings, explore them, figure them out.  Once you can do that, you can then begin to figure out what you need.  For me, I needed mothering - unconditional mothering. I craved a healthy, maternal relationship with a mother figure I could count on. That is why the Blessed Mother is such a huge part of my life. Ironically, it was my mom who gave me a statue of the Blessed Mother for my Confirmation. My grandmom said, “ I have never, ever asked the Blessed Mother for help and not had my prayers answered.”  I grabbed onto that, and I’ve held it close to me ever since. Funny how God will always give you what you need.

I have also learned that some relationships simply are what they are. As I’ve grown and become more comfortable with who I am, I have made peace with that fact. Although I didn’t get what I needed from Mom, I have been able to finally give myself what I’ve needed most - and that is to follow my own internal compass, to be truthful about my needs, and allow myself to grow. That, more than anything, has helped me to feel  ENOUGH. There is no need anymore to tug on my mother, or anyone else. I am enough.

I’ve learned being enough, feeling enough, is not just between you and someone else - it is really between YOU and YOU. I was basing my happiness and self-worth on the whims of others. If you can get to the why behind the feeling, then you can move forward. Take the time to really explore and figure out what your need is, what will fill you up. And when you do, it will not only make you whole - it will be enough

-Mary Rose