Self-doubt hasn’t always been my worst enemy. There have been many times in my life when I have felt grounded and strong, confident and full. I’ve had “important” jobs and respectable earnings. I’ve had fulfilling friendships, and raging romantic relationships. I’ve had critical acclaim, and glowing reviews, approved graduate school applications, academic scholarships and positive survey feedback. And there have even been times in my life when I’ve had all of these things simultaneously. More importantly, I have had times in my life in which I have felt a deep sense of fulfillment from the inside out. I’ve liked where I was and who I was and I’ve loved what I was doing. I was enough. Maybe not enough for a star on Hollywood Boulevard, but enough for me.
Sadly in the last couple of years, self-confidence has been in short supply… somewhere along the path that has been my recent adult life, I’ve lost my self-love mojo. Ironic for a yoga teacher who regularly posits in class that self-acceptance and compassion are the self are key components of living a mindful and healthy life. Believe me when I tell you there has been no lack of reflection on this twist.
Maybe it started with a string of unsuccessful career choices. Or loosing a husband to Cancer. Or living with an emotionally cut-off alcoholic. I’m sure there was a lot of self-loathing going on when grief-stricken and bereft, I found myself snorting cocaine off the back of a toilet in a dive bar in Chicago, and unfortunately it didn’t stop even when the drug use did. Maybe it really began when I broke trust with myself, and rushed into a second marriage, still full of grief over the last one. I’m sure my self-doubt was doubled when in my relatively small community I went through a fairly publicly discussed divorce. But for whatever (many) reason(s), somewhere in the not so distant past I seemed to really loose my sense of self and began consistently looking for external validation. I started to feel unworthy of true happiness, love, and santosha (contentment).
Sure, there were moments in between now and then when I felt satiated, fulfilled and worthy of love. Bringing my son into this world, naturally and nearly unassisted, felt like nothing short of a miracle, and yet even that accomplishment’s glow wore off quickly. Completing my yoga teacher training felt satisfying – to a degree… but I had plenty of doubts about even that; was 200 hours really enough training to call myself a teacher? what did I have to share with my students anyway? who was I to be leading a class? etc.
Then in late 2010 I found myself unexpectedly falling hard in love again, and the hole in my heart felt temporarily full. Of course, it wasn’t long after the flush of fresh love began to calm, that fear and insecurity crept back into my heart, and I started to feel unworthy again. Not a few months into my new domestic bliss (summer 2011) did I begin to feel tripped up by doubt and insecurity. Fear around trust nearly broke everything apart, and though part of me would like to add “for good reason”, the rest of me knows that there wasn’t one. All of a sudden I didn’t feel pretty enough, or smart enough, successful enough or spiritually evolved enough. I began to think that I didn’t meditate enough, or hadn’t traveled enough. That I didn’t have enough accolades or degrees, or missions of seva and global activism in my resume. I began to think I wasn’t interesting, and felt like I had nothing to share. I stopped talking at dinner parties, and began resenting people for their own exciting stories, careers, adventures or vacations. I started to believe I didn’t have enough to offer my partner, my students, or my friends.
Well enough is enough.
So I’m making a proclamation right now, in broad internet daylight, that the buck stops here. The self-doubt and feelings of unworthiness stop NOW. The truth is, I am more than my past failed relationships, my divorce and my losses. I am more than my up-in-the-middle-of-the-night worry that I might not be the best mother to my toddler son. I am more than my measly 30-thousand dollar annual income. I am vulnerable and I am strong. I am a novice at some things, and an expert at others. I cry, but I laugh. Some nights I have nightmares, but many nights I have big beautiful dreams. I have fears but I have many more hopes. I have trauma in my past, but I have done more than just survive it. And YES, I have major issues with trust – but I’m WORKING on them.
I might not have a three figure salary, or a CV full of humanitarian service work in third world countries – but I do have an interesting list of skills and interests.
I am a great mom. I’m a really good massage therapist, and I’m working diligently at becoming a good yoga teacher. I have a strong commitment to a spiritual path, and I really believe in living as mindfully as possible. I love music of nearly all kinds, modern dance, photography and art. Prior to motherhood I was fairly politically active. I’m a good cook and I can talk about wine. I’ve lived in several major cities, including New York, Chicago and Paris, and I can paint you a pretty exciting picture of my travels through the Netherlands, Berlin, Belgium, and the Czech Republic. I once spent 6 months traveling through Ireland all by myself. I’ve been a house painter, fishmonger, prop stylist, studio manager, and choreographer. I’ve worked as a photo researcher and photo editor for major magazines including the New York Times Magazine, Fortune and Newsweek, and once upon a time (1999) my modern dance company, headlined the Nantucket Arts Festival. I gave birth to my son 100% naturally, at home, on a yoga mat, in 2.5 hours with nearly zero assistance. I really like skinny dipping in the ocean. I once smoked pot with David Byrne. I was married to one of the most amazing martial artists I’ve ever known, who just happened to love working out and training with me. Consequentially I can deliver a pretty kick-ass muay thai knee strike. Every day I spend a considerable amount of time balancing on my hands, forearms or head, and I love being up-side-down. I used to play the piano with passion, and I still secretly love singing.
So as it turns out, I am more rich in beautiful experiences than tragic ones – and from here on out, I’m going to start identifying myself more with the former than with the later.
Here’s an amazingly powerful quote I read today; “those who have a strong sense of love and belonging BELIEVE they are WORTHY of love and belonging.”
Today I believe I am enough for my son. Today I believe I am enough for my partner. And today, I am enough for myself.
I am enough.
I am enough.
I am enough.