Often in my life I have felt that I am not enough.
I am not being a good enough mother, a good enough friend, a good enough person…I am not doing enough, being enough, am just not enough.
Not good enough thoughts are dangerous and they have lingered around in my consciousness for far too long.
Last week I chatted to another mother as we were dropping off our boys at preschool. She seemed quite emotional as she shared with me how overwhelmed she was feeling and how some days she just didn’t think she could do this.
She didn’t feel she had enough strength.
I told her I understood. I shared that I was a single parent…I got it. Her immediate response was:
I’m a single parent too!
Instant understanding…instant comradery…the I’m not enough is lessened in the moment with the light of this sharing.
When Noakai as born I quickly started to feel overwhelmed…or rather exhausted. And the word exhausted does not describe adequately the level of tiredness I felt. And I felt like I was doing a terrible job at being a parent. Noakai did not fall asleep easily and I would have to bounce on the balance ball with him for hours a day just to get him to sleep. At 10 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon, 6 at night, 10 at night 3 in the morning….on and on. And sleep is precious. It becomes as sought after as gold when you don’t get enough of it…
And there were moments when I would grind my teeth and scream and rant and rave…
Just go to sleep!!!! GO…TO…SLEEP!!! SLEEP!! SLEEP!! PLEASE SLEEP!!
I was so relieved when I saw that video, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson… “Go the f*&% to sleep.”…I was not alone in this!!
There were moments when I would act very impatiently, frustrated and angry with him. I was just so tired. I felt like the worst mother on earth…but I just couldn’t take it any more.
I started to feel quite depressed. I felt desperate. I felt Noakai needed to be with people that could give him a better life than I could…were better people than I was. He deserved more. I didn’t have enough of anything. I thought of adoption.
When I mentioned this to a couple of friends and my brother they spoke very sternly to me…
You can do this, they said...YOU CAN. I know you can and you WILL! You ARE strong enough!
Their faith in me helped.
And so little by little I continued to do it and to believe that I was enough for Noakai.
Last year though after Noakai turned 2…I hit another wall. I was just so deeply tired. On every level. I was trying to do so much without ever getting much of a break. Every Sunday morning a friend would watch Noakai for me and every Friday for a little a lovely neighbor. Thank God for friends that help I want to shout out to the heavens! What would I do without them? But still I felt exhausted. I needed a holiday, a break, a manicure, a massage, to go shopping…something!
I had to avoid Facebook…it made me feel so not good enough…seeing everyones seemingly picture perfect lives, their radiant smiles shining out from the computer screen.
I got to the point where I felt I needed antidepressants. It was that bad. Not good enough was affecting everything.
One day as I was sitting there staring off into space, tears rolling down my face, Noakai came up to me and stroked my shoulder. He said softly: I’m sorry Mummy, I’m so sorry…
I made an appointment to see the doctor that day. They did not have an appointment available for 5 weeks. Great.
Again…thank God for friends and my brother…they were there for me…encouraged me.
And then one day I decided to pray, to really pray and ask for help to get through this…and I prayed with a great passion and intensity. I chose to have faith in a power greater than myself. I realized how completely lacking in faith I had been.
And…things shifted. It was amazing. I began to feel a little better, a little stronger every day.
3 weeks later I cancelled my appointment.
Of course the fact remains that it is hard to be a single parent...f@#$k*&% hard… and challenging in ways that only single parents can really understand. Sometimes people say things that are insensitive, careless and thoughtless….the words roll off their tongues so easily…and so I have learned to be selective with what I share about my life and with whom I share it with. For I need to watch out for the feeling of not being good enough…Sometimes I see it on the horizon staring at me, coming closer with every breath…I do what I can to not let it creep back in again and take over.
There should be a 12 step program: “Not good enough annonymous.” One day at a time, is sometimes all that we can do.
There is a scene in the movie Sex in the City, when Charlotte and Miranda talk about being parents and how hard it is and how the hell do single parents do it?! Miranda says: I don’t f*&k@*% know!….And then they toast to all the single parents. Yep that’s right!….I feel I deserved that toast!
I remember a phrase a friend once told me a long time ago when I was feeling down. She said:
Pull yourself towards yourself and rise above it!
I stopped for a second thinking about the words and then I smiled…She said it again more passionately and with grand gestures and soon I was laughing. I loved that phrase!
And truth is I am good enough, we are all good enough…Doing our best is good enough. And we can rise above these negative thoughts and feelings and ask for all the help we need.
I saw a TED Talk by Amy Cuddy on how your body language shapes who you are. It was a great talk and at one point she describes having the thought while at Princeton of: I’m not supposed to be here…
Which comes down to not feeling good enough doesn’t it?
She was told by her advisor to: Fake it until you become it…
I love that…
Fake it until you become it…
And to bring your true self to every encounter, with no layers of bright, shiny pretense…just you…the unedited you.
Some days are harder than others and I am learning to be more compassionate and loving with myself…for I am doing my best and that is good enough. It is so important to have a support network around you…family, friends, a higher power, a therapist, a weekly meeting…whatever works for you…and to surround yourself with people that support you being good enough.
Sitting on the beach with Noakai playing and laughing…I feel so very blessed to have this beautiful boy as my son.
I must be good enough…for he chose me. We chose each other.
As the waves crash against the sand, and the sun begins to melt into the earth, we jump up for joy, dancing around in the water.
This is what it is to feel enough….
Being in the moment with someone you love with all of your heart…
And to be like the ocean that pulls itself towards itself and rises above it majestically and powerfully.
By Annabel Ruffell