For most of my life, I never felt like I was enough. Skinny enough, smart enough, athletic enough, worthy enough. I even dated a guy, after my divorce that told me I was the perfect girl, but I just wasn't hot enough. If I could just get a little hotter. What exactly does that mean get a little hotter? Did I mention the fact that he could've lost a few pounds, and didn't have much hair. Hot enough, so his gut and balding head weren't the focal point. Hot enough, so I could impress his friends and co-workers. What would all this hotness get me? The bald guy with the gut.
I was 37, divorced, and living in Orange County. California, where hot woman are like hot cars, all you have to do is drive a block, and you can find a hotter girl or a nicer car. To keep up with all this hotness would require a lot of time, money, and effort, which I happened to be lacking all three. There were so many things in the outside world that were telling me I wasn't enough, but deep inside I had this feeling they were all wrong.
I finally realized I had a huge problem, when my five year old daughter told me for Christmas all she wanted was long blonde hair like Barbie, because her hair was puffy and she hated it. I guess, it would be a good time to mention that my daughter is mixed race. Her father is black, and I am white and she is an incredibly beautiful mix of the both of us. Yet, all she could see at five, was what she didn't have. Long blonde hair was at the top of her list. I was pretty sure even Santa couldn't make that happen.
That afternoon I realized, that I was passing down my feelings of not being enough to my daughter, and I didn't want her to grow up like that. There were a lot of things in her world that could make her feel like she wasn't enough. Most people assume that my daughter is adopted. I've never totally understood why it is the first assumption, but it happened so often that Brianna didn't like me picking her up at school, because she hated to explain. No matter where we were we would inevitably get the funny confused look and then,"is that your mom?" Followed up with, "are you adopted?" It always made her feel like something was wrong with her. Everywhere Brianna looked, she didn't look like or have what the other kids did. The list of where we weren't enough, was growing every time we walked out the door.
Children are really perceptive, we can tell them whatever we want, but they learn from our actions, the words we speak about our own lives, the way we live our lives, by our example. We can say all the right things to our children, about how they should act, feel, do and be, but if what comes out of our mouths doesn't match our example, we are wasting our breath. If we aren't trying to live the life we are preaching to them at some point they stop listening. So I couldn't tell Brianna that no matter what she was enough, if I didn't show her that no matter what I was enough.
I realized that being enough wasn't something that came from outward things, it came from the inside. It came from a place of worthiness. It wasn't about having more, being more, or doing more. It was about being Ok with the me I was today, and knowing that whatever got done, or didn't get done today I was enough. The reality is you can never get enough of what you don't need. Like being hot enough. Hot enough for what exactly, and then when I achieved this hotness what would I do with it. Hotness was an illusion based on someone else's idea of what hot was.
Not feeling like we are enough keeps us from love and belonging. If you look at this phrase what would be your answer. Never ______________ enough. Whatever you fill in the blank with, is the thing that keeps you from love and belonging. The way to love, and belonging is being seen as we are, it's being vulnerable and sharing the real you. It's practicing courage to show up with the real you, and compassion with ourselves, and others.
Six months later we were at Disneyland, and we were sitting on a rock resting. We noticed this little girl looking at us, she must've been about 9. She would look, and then when we looked, she would look away. Finally she said to Brianna, "Is that your mom?" followed by "were you adopted?" Brianna and I both laughed, as her poor mom couldn't apologize fast enough. We walked away holding hands, laughing and knowing that yes I was her mom and she was my daughter and we were enough.