Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The freedom of enough

When I was in sixth grade, I came home from school one day to find my mom had taped a newspaper ad on my mirror.

It was a picture of a baby and it said, “Do you remember the last time you were really happy with the way you look?”

It was actually an ad for a plastic surgeon. Now, before you go thinking that my mom was the worst mother this side of Joan Crawford, let me explain.

I was about 11 when my negative thoughts about myself really kicked into high gear. I was never smart enough. Never good enough, pretty enough or thin enough. Never enough. And it broke my mother’s heart to see the daughter she unconditionally loved be so hard on herself. So she put up the newspaper clipping to remind me that at some point in my life I had been free of the chains of negativity and self-hatred.

I recently cleaned out some old boxes and found that ad. I saved it all these years. I remember it sparking a conversation full of honesty and tears between my mother and me. And it has been something I’ve thought of many times since.

Because the truth is that I don’t know when I’ll be smart enough or good enough. Or pretty enough or thin enough. The last time I lost a significant amount of weight, I was obsessed with my crooked teeth. So I got braces. Then I got obsessed with the wonkiness in my right eye. Then it was that my lips were too thin. Never enough.

As I learn more about myself through this journey, the most important thing I’m trying to gain is a love of self. It’s a self that has been blessed with the love of others. But there is definitely a freedom that comes with finding that love within your own soul.

I’m not there yet. But I’m working on it. And I’m hoping that one day I’ll be able to truly look at myself and say:

Yes, I am enough.


Anonymous said...

Its amazing how little so many of us think of ourselves, when everybody we know thinks we are just great! I think you are great. I hope you think so too someday soon.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 5:05pm read my mind...

Anonymous said...

Your mother was a beautiful and wise lady. I know that she taught you many "lessons" that will help you through your entire life. I was also blessed with a beautiful and wise mother. I remember when I was in the 2nd grade, I went home one day crying because one of my classmates had made fun of me, taunting, "Fatty, fatty, two by four". I can still hear Mama's voice as she said to me, "Everytime someone laughs at you, you laugh at yourself right along with them". It wasn't easy but the next time I was taunted by this person, I laughed just as hard as she did. We actually became friends (not the greatest of friends but enough to get through the 2nd grade). But I knew the truth...I WAS fat, so this didn't help me to be satisfied with myself but it helped me make others think I was satisfied with myself for years to come. Years after that I finally lost weight. Not as much as I wanted to lose but I was almost satisfied with myself. I was 5'6" and weighed around 150 but...I thought if I could just lose about 20 or 30 more pounds I would be perfect. I did feel better about myself for losing 90 pounds but just not perfectly satisfied. Like you said about your teeth, Erika, I felt my teeth were so crooked and ugly that I believed if I could manage to get them fixed, I would finally be satisfied with myself. After many years, I was able to get my teeth fixed! As the dentist held up the mirror and I looked into the reflection of my beautiful straight teeth and the glowing bright smile that I had longed for my whole life, I saw IT...my crooked nose! I actually spoke it out loud right there in the dentist chair..."my nose looks so crooked"! Weird! I had never noticed it before probably because I was so obsessed with my awful teeth. Here I was at age 65 and I had just noticed that one side of my nose was about a quarter of an inch longer than the other side and it was so crooked that it just made my beautiful new teeth (which I had paid half of my life savings to have done) seem not quite as beautiful as before!!! Satisfied with myself? Will I ever be perfect and will I ever be satisfied with myself??? NO...I won't ever be perfect and no one will. BUT I can be satisfied! Most of us need to stop being so hard on ourselves and quite looking for imperfections in ourselves. Erika, like everyone else, you will never be perfect but I hope that you realize very soon that you have every right to be satisfied with yourself and you are beautiful, wise and talented just like your wonderful mother. And if it means anything to you, I admire you greatly and I love you very much! Aunt Neva

Anonymous said...

Erika, you've always been enough.

Erika, you are enough.

Erika, one day is today for you to say that.

Hope you do.

Every day, remember to love yourself and that you are enough.

You could write yourself a letter.

Dear Me,
I love you, Me. You are enough, Me.

:-) PS Read this first thing every morning.

Leanne said...

I wish that we would all just love, accept and appreciate ourselves and each other continuously without looking at our own or each other's so called flaws. I think we wouldn't get so out of balance if we did that.

Leanne said...

Clarification: When I say "so out of balance" I'm talking about being too hard on ourselves and each other. I know I'm guilty of taking my opinion and judgement to extremes.

Anonymous said...

Never knew this. Mrs A? My hero :)

Mandy said...

I recognized you from your blog the first time I saw you at Weight Watchers... your personality glows (as do your cheeks), your skin is amazing, and your hair is super shiny. I thought you were pretty, and so does everybody else. So there!

Anonymous said...

Erika, I have never met you but I see you as a beautiful person because you have a beauty that radiates from inside. I am sure that you will reach your weight loss goal but I ask that you remember this - external beauty is a short lived and fleeting quality....what will always serve as a magnet is the inner light that we all possess but few let it shine. Always let your light shine!