You Are Enough

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The most essential thing I can 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 feeling that we all have at times but I seem to have it in spades. I think my deep issue with never feeling that I am 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 caused me a great deal of pain and confusion. It took me a long time to get to a place of peace and I still struggle. But I now see that the struggle was a great gift, because it made me who I am.  For that, I am grateful.

I never connected with my mother 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 her holding back her love and approval. My older sister and I were only 13 months apart in age and we were completely different. Different in looks, personality, and temperament. My mom identified more 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 the issues between my mother and me. I once heard the phrase: “history doesn't repeat itself; we repeat history,” and I completely agree. We repeat the past, sometimes against our best efforts because it’s all we know. My mom couldn’t love more than one person at a time because that is what she learned from her mother. I always had the feeling that my mom was pushing me down and away to make Beth feel better about herself. ;If I was less, Beth would be more and I thought that if I obliged 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 and 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 a  missing link between me and my mom that I couldn’t name 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 so hungry for a connection.

Growing up, there was an every-man-for-himself” attitude in my house. Love was conditional. If you were perfect — Mom’s version of perfect —  then you were loved. I know now that I wasn’t unlovable, 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.

My relationship with my mom fed my thinking that I wasn’t enough. I battled hollow, anxious, empty feelings so often that they became my normal state. When someone close to you rejects you, even in a subtle way, it can drastically alter your self-perception. I spent so much time trying to be what I thought everyone else wanted that I lived for other people’s expectations, not my own. Jane Fonda says, ‘“We are not meant to be perfect; we are meant to be whole.” In trying so hard to get people to like me, I forgot to like myself. I believe that if I was perfect, or rather, if people thought I was  perfect, then I would be loved.

I always felt guilty about not having a real connection with my mom. I loved her but I didn’t really like her. But we should never feel guilty for feeling! Feelings aren’t right or wrong, they just are. Our feelings never lie but are an indication of where we are and what we need. 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 begin to figure out what you need. For me, I needed mothering, unconditional mothering. I craved a healthy, maternal relationship with a mother figure that 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 she has not answered my prayers.” 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: courage 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 longer any need to tug on my mother or anyone else. I am enough.

I’ve learned that feeling as though I am enough is an internal and highly personal task. Relationships and encounters with other people will influence how we feel about ourselves in the moment, but our true sense of self must come from within.  I based my happiness and self-worth on other people’s reactions and words while completely disregarding what I thought. I had to answer the question: “What do I think of me?” It takes strength and courage to answer that question, but once you do, you will start to realize the value you represent and the gifts you have to offer. You will see the truth: you are worthwhile, you are whole, you are enough.

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