As I listen to stories one thing I hear on a repeated loop is, "I'm not good enough." People might not SAY IT that way. Sometimes, actually, I have to listen through ears of love because it comes screaming out as anger anger anger. "Why don't you recognize me as a peer?" "My doctor doesn't give a shit." "My patients use me up." "No one appreciates me."
On and on and on and on. Really though - through it all, more than being undervalued or under appreciated at the core is the FEAR or the belief, the worry that "I'm not good enough."
In most cases, we work for approval. I'll do better. I'll earn your love with grades, with being funny, with applause, with publications, with promotions. When people respond to being criticized, I know in my heart they worry they aren't good enough. They haven't EARNED it yet.
The irony to this is it happens at all levels - from the most elite surgeons to the girl raped at 8. Oddly- the two have more in common than they will ever recognize. When I stand back and watch - the anger, the pain, the behavior of a meth addict (usually frequently to cover their own abusive past) or the heightened success of people - they all have the same stories to tell me. Fear, rejection, not enough, never enough. One crumbled from it, the other kept striving. Always always going for more more more but never FINDING enough approval to fill the hole inside. And you know what. There is never enough meth or food or promotions to fill the void of not being good enough.
There are not enough advanced degrees, or compliments, or hugs, or praise either. There isn't even enough prayer actually. Unless you believe there is somehow infinite mercy, and in that infinite mercy a healing space. And in THAT healing space we are all each others mirror.
And only then, can we see reflected each others true beauty and NOT each others ugly or failure or inabilities.
Today I read this sentence and it resonated with me: “When I forget who I am, I become what I might be” (Tao quoted by Paulo Coelho). I sat with it and realized that it is FINE to say this in a spiritual way- but it another to go through it. When we are losing pieces of our lives and holding on the log to not drown - it is an awful process. When we watch our loved ones die, or are losing our beloved house, or are sharing custody of our kids, or giving up on live goals or dreams. When we are LOSING OURSELVES, WATCHING OUR LIVES SHATTER, it does not feel like a spiritual process at all.
Then I read several blogs by people all who poured out more pain in the form of shared stories.
These stories are important.
Stories heal us. Katie, my hero, says "we write our way back to ourselves." And I agree. I also think when we share our stories with each other, and truly understand each other, and TRY to remember ourselves THROUGH our commonalities AND our realness, we collectively heal and allow each other to heal. We remember we are not only good enough, but we are truly beautiful. We are good.
We don't shame each other. We bear witness to our histories. We don't fear pain or joy. We don't run away from celebration or success. We sit with each other and remember brokenness, like wholeness has a place in life.