Inside this 45 year old rock star mom is my insecure, wounded teen self that has struggled for years with never feeling good enough. There was always this sense that whatever I did, it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t enough. Part of me is a type A overachiever, part of me is still sobbing on my teenage bed, listening to Bauhaus and writing really bad poetry. I have carried around my own personal Greek chorus, reminding me what couldn’t be done because I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t smart enough, talented enough, pretty enough. Believe me, this was reinforced a lot in my younger years, from a variety of sources.
One side effect of having low self esteem is the ability to become a chameleon. I could be everything to everyone, to paraphrase Everclear. It’s very easy to compartmentalize who you are, and only let my freak flag fly with certain people. This way I’m enough to person X. It also brings the people pleaser in me out in full force, because I want you to want me…or at least like me.
I suffered for a lot of years, saying yes to a lot of things that were a no in my heart and soul, because I wanted to be enough for someone. I was the one that everyone could rely to help with an event/fundraiser/babysitting/picking up extra shifts because she’s just that way. I wanted to be wanted, needed and by being helpful and not saying my best yes, I wasn’t enough for myself.
I swallowed a lot of silent no’s because I didn’t want to upset anyone. If I did, I wouldn’t be enough anymore. I would make waves. I also swallowed a lot of food because it held those no’s down.
I wish I could say that there was a particular moment that inspired me to change, my rock bottom. There isn’t one in particular, but instead a gradual descent. Finally, it was the realization that I was giving all my power to people who didn’t deserve it. I had given up a lot of precious energy over others opinions, expectations and agendas. It’s exhausting living your life for someone else, trying to be enough.
There have been 2 sets of reactions: positive and negative. I’ve gotten a lot of “you go girl” from my tribe. Unfortunately, the negative voices have been louder. There’s a lot of anger and resentment when you chose to be who you are and don’t ask permission. When you upset the balance of power, that’s a tough pill to swallow for some. Especially when you’ve been so acquiescing for so long.
It’s amazing how fast your phone stops ringing when you learn to say no. It’s equally amazing how much more energy you have when you’re not being weighted down by those silent no’s. Once upon a time, I didn’t think it would be possible for me to NOT binge eat, especially since I had been doing it since childhood (that’s another story for another day). I also didn’t think it would be possible for me to put my priorities first because, well I’m enough and I don’t need someone’s permission to. Going to the gym, yoga,writing, getting enough rest,meditation as well as eating lean, mean & clean are all priorities. I have to put on my oxygen mask before I help anyone else.
Speaking up and not swallowing those no’s is still a challenge. There are a few people it’s really hard to say no to, mainly out of habit. I’ve been saying yes for so long, it’s an expectation now. There’s a lot of shock when I don’t, and while in this transitory phase I’ve made a few bad choices, it’s going to be all right.
It has to be enough.