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 passionate romances. I’ve had critical acclaim, glowing reviews, approved applications and positive survey feedback. There have even been times in my life when I’ve had all of these things simultaneously and have felt a deep sense of fulfillment from both within and beyond. I’ve liked where I was, who I was and what I was doing. I was enough.
But my late 20s were a tumultuous time. I left my life in New York City after 9/11 after an 8 year stint in Brooklyn, and moved to Chicago. While I was there, my best friend died suddenly and inexplicably back home. We were 25. When I was 27, my boyfriend of 2 years and husband of one month was diagnosed with a rare cancer and died 8 weeks later. I was grief-stricken and bereft. Self-doubt crept into my heart and my I’m-going-to-take-on-the-world self-confidence dried up. A few months after Aaron’s death, I found myself snorting cocaine off the back of a toilet in a dive bar in Chicago and severe self-loathing took hold. I made some half-hearted attempts to get back onto my mat, but lost, I found myself spending more time drinking in a toxic relationship than practicing yoga with my friends.
Three years later, fleeing from Chicago, I returned to my hometown and rushed into a second marriage, still full of grief over the last one. My self-esteem plummeted when just shy of 2 years, that marriage ended divorce, and for a myriad of reasons I began to think myself simply unworthy of true happiness, love, or santosha (contentment).
Then in late 2010 I found myself unexpectedly falling in love again, and the hole in my heart that I had been trying to plug since Aaron’s death felt temporarily full. Of course, it wasn’t long after the flush of fresh love began to calm, that I started to doubt my worth again. Inevitably the high wore off and the emptiness and doubt returned. I started to worry that my new partner didn’t think I was smart enough, successful enough or spiritually evolved enough. I began to judge myself through the harshest of lenses: I didn’t meditate enough. I hadn’t traveled enough. I wasn’t a global activist. Blah, blah, blah…I stopped talking at dinner parties, and began resenting people for their own exciting stories, careers, adventures and vacations. I began to believe I didn’t have enough to offer my partner, my students, my son or my friends.
I doubt that this is a unique experience. Change the details and substitute names and locations, and any number of people I’ve met in recent years could plug themselves into this story. We’re human. We make mistakes. Shit happens and then we’re faced with choices. Sometimes we make good choices, some times we don’t. If we’re lucky, there are teachers near by who can guide us, or friends who can help us, or family members who can support us.
This time I had my yoga practice to guide me, so in the summer when the doubt started to choke me up again, I made a pact with myself. I would believe myself worthy of being enough. My yoga practice bore witness to this promise, and there was an almost immediate shift. I realized that through the same diligence I was applying to asana I could dedicate myself to the practice of of worthiness.
We can all do this practice. So often we put our faith in external things; belief systems, iconography, cultural identity, religion, and science. Why not instead or in addition to, put our focus on ourselves and start cultivating faith in our own worthiness. Let’s start believing that we are enough. When we do the world opens it arms to us, and love and compassion envelop us. When we love ourselves, faults and all, we are more lovable to other and we can bravely love others right back.
We are more than our past failed relationships, our divorces and losses. We are more than our up-in-the-middle-of-the-night worries. We are not our traumas, we are survivors. We are full of stories that don’t end badly. And even the ones that do, are stories we can choose not to run from, but to learn from. We are capable, loving imperfectly perfect compassionate beings. When I started believe this (and it’s still not every day) I began to see that I am – and you are- more rich in beautiful experiences than tragic ones. Let’s start identifying ourselves more with the former than with the later.
When you doubt it. Say it out loud. Write it down. Stare at it. And believe it.
You are enough.
You are enough.
You are enough.
Caitlin is a yoga teacher, workshop producer, mother, dancer, healer, and writer. She is nationally certified in massage therapy and has been studying yoga on and off for over 13 years. A former modern dancer, she fuses her passion for music and modern dance with yoga; keeping her flow creative, playful and fresh. Caitlin lives on the tiny Island of Nantucket, MA. year-round with her partner and 3 year-old satguru Griffin, where she is an advocate of prenatal yoga, natural childbirth, midwifery, elegant tattoos, rockin’ music and eating like you give a damn. She teaches regularly at The Yoga Room and has recently begun teaching workshops in the greater New England area. Caitlin blogs about her practice on and off the mat on her website, www.caitlinmarcoux.net and you can find her on Facebook and Twitter