If you’ve read anything I’ve written you’ll know it always comes straight from my heart. Every time I put fingers to keyboard or pen to paper (I still love writing the old-fashioned way) it’s a mixture of information sharing, motivational message and therapy (for me)! Sometimes it feels like I almost give birth to the pieces I write, and that’s why I think it sometimes takes a while for posts to come, the words and thoughts have to brew for a while in my over thinking mind. I’m always brutally honest and I often over-share, and this one is no different.
Working every day with women is such a blessing. I totally love my job! I get so many different perspectives on life, love, mothering, relationships – I’ve learned so much from you all. It’s also given me a unique insight into our similarities as women – the emotions and experiences that, regardless of our backgrounds and choices, we all seem to share. Irrespective of our individual paths, we all share elements of the same journey. This goes a lot deeper than the bitching days when everyone who comes into the Studio has had enough of their husband/fiancé/partner/significant other and we are all united in our cause to establish a lesbian commune!
One thing that we all seem to battle with is our self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. I’m the first to own that feeling of not being good enough. As women, friends, daughters, wives/partners, mothers, sexual beings – we are all more than capable of filling in our own blanks.
And I think that the older we get, the more life that we live, the longer and more messy this list can get. We have more history, more baggage and yet instead of it getting clearer the more tightly bound our not good enough’s become. Mine are very much borne out of my learned experiences, my history, my baggage and also from the daily pressure that I heap on myself on a daily basis to be this perfect creature, where I can be all things to all the people in my world.
(In the interests of honesty and prior warning, there’s some over-sharing coming up…)
If you were under some illusion that I had my shit utterly together I’m here to demonstrate quite clearly that is not the case. You see my not good enough list is pretty impressively long:
- I’m not a good enough mummy – this one started when I failed to breastfeed my babies, progressed through the multiple and varied failures through their early lives and certainly was made infinitely worse when I moved them half way across the world before they even started school, divorced their father, remarried, to a man who then died in a fairly shocking way, was forced to move them from their lovely school and will in the next few months move them from their home and get them to start a new school.
- I’m not good at relationships – well I’ve got an ex-husband and a dead husband and let’s just say I have a habit of saying “yes” when I should probably say “no” and don’t even ask me how many wedding dresses I own! I’ve been in an emotionally abusive relationship which warps how I see the world and causes me anxieties on an almost daily basis. I have been cheated on by my partners on more than one occasion and struggle with trust and honesty. I doubt my own ability to know what love is, whether I can be loved and whether I will ever be enough for anyone
- I used to be an almost good enough swimmer – well, when you compete at something like swimming you’re never completely satisfied that you’re good enough as there is always someone better than you out there, someone who can beat you. But these days, after my hip surgeries that haven’t quite worked, I feel even more of a failure – my body has let me down and my mojo has disappeared
- My body certainly isn’t good enough – whilst I accept it for all the awesome things it has done, namely carry and bring two beautiful little people into the world, I have always had cellulite, big thighs and in my postnatal incarnation I have virtually non-existent boobs!
- I feel like I could do better everyday as a business woman – I should be making more money, have more clients, write more often and just be so much more than I am
Oh I could go on…
This is not supposed to sound tragic and pathetic. It’s real and it’s blunt. I don’t think I’m a failure, far from it. When I consider how much I’ve done in my life, even with a few wrong-turns and dead-ends I am content. Sometimes I’m even a little bit surprised and impressed, if that doesn’t sound big-headed?
When I hear my “not good enough” voice grow loud I talk to her. I acknowledge her and tell her I understand where it all comes from. If we allow ourselves to dwell on our shame then self doubt creeps in. It takes hold and it can drag us under.
She’s 10 years old my “not good enough” voice. She’s a little girl being left at boarding school for the first time. She is confused and doesn’t understand and she’s really afraid and lonely. She feels like she’s been let down badly and she feels unloved.
Instead of berating her, instead of being tough on her, I hold her close and give her the kind of hug I would give my Martha. I tell her that I love her, that I’m proud of all that she is going to do with her life, how she will learn resilience and put it to the test so many times it shines bright with all the refining…but will still be smiling at the end of it all.
She will always smile.
And then I tell her she is more than enough.
She has always been more than enough. And whatever other people may do or say to make her think otherwise, she always will be more than enough.
You see, I think that knowing where my anxieties come from is a huge step in the right direction. I can own all the stuff that happened from that day on, how it has affected so many of my choices and ultimately the path I am on. Being able to leave that little 10 year old me on the huge staircase in my boarding school feeling loved, safe, and ultimately secure in the knowledge that whilst she can’t be certain of the future and what it holds, she has the power to cope with whatever she has to face. To me that’s freedom and healing. When I remember all that I can breathe and let it all go.
I am who I am. Just like you are the sum of who you are. Perfectly imperfect and more than good enough. Know where your shame, fear and inner shit comes from, own it and do not be afraid to hear that voice. Learn, accept and move on. Repeat.