Monday, July 24, 2017

On Being Enough

Bear with me. 
I have been writing and electronically crumpling up this post in the cyber-trash for months. 
Each time it has evolved and changed, because I have.

The last time I tried to write, I was feeling dejected because I had been rejected, in a very final form. I had written a final goodbye to a friend that I thought was a forever friend, yet turned out to be someone who I now feel I never really knew. And whether you know who I'm talking about doesn't really matter, what matters is the feelings that have come from it. Because in many ways I'm mourning, and I truly feel like I can't let this go until I write them out and let them flow freely. Today that dejected feeling has turned into being brokenhearted, and I'm choosing to believe that that is my next step in the grieving process. Because something has very much died. And if I go on living like it has not died and refusing to grieve in it, the beauty will never rise from the ashes. 

My friend recently sat with me at lunch and told me, "I don't know Jame, you just seem to much happier and more free of this since the last time we spoke". In many ways, that is true. But, it broke me to hear her words. YES I have been happier and more free on so many days, but I've also been stuffing away the feelings, telling myself that I am the bigger person, repeating the mantras and busying my mind with other things -- because all of those mean less pain on the day to day. Those things work to a degree. But you know what would be better? Real closure. A real reason. Not a reason tidied and packaged up with euphemisms of "it's not you, it's me", and all of those phrases that made me feel like I was talking to a stranger. 

Yesterday, I sat and listened to Awesome with Alison, my new favorite podcast which is so super uplifting and life changing. I feel freshly empowered and confident, but still today on the flip side, this sadness hangs over me. She spoke with such confidence that who I am right NOW is awesome, and that I don't need to busy myself with other people's issues and insecurities, and that if they don't like me that is entirely their problem. I truly, truly want to believe that. In many ways I do. I think this persons sudden change of heart about my character is entirely a reflection of her own insecurities and close mindedness. Yet the pain still lingers, like 100% humidity in the dead of summer. It stabs like a double edged sword, reaching way down through the years and memories I used to cherish. It has made me question so many things about my own character that I have never really questioned before. 

Mostly this: AM I ENOUGH? 

Enough of a wife? Of a mother? of a friend? 
Am I enough of a Christian? 
Enough of a homemaker? 
I think the answer is yes. Because God says I am. I want to believe that the answer is yes. 

Am I enough when Josie finds and is currently eating a day old waffle chunk off the floor? 
Or when our laundry hasn't been touched in 5 days? 
Or when I haven't responded to a FB message in weeks, on purpose, because I just can't muster up the desire for direct social interaction? 

Am I enough of a modern woman, when people unfollow me on Instagram? 
Am I enough of a good mother, when we sleep train and formula feed? 
Am I enough, when my home has no cohesive pattern or theme and is constantly in a state of disarray? 

Maybe I'm not enough, because IF I was, this wouldn't have happened. The "IF" is what haunts me. If I had done something differently. If I had said something differently. If I wouldn't have said this, or done that. I have spent the last year trying to dissect every interaction, trying to find the answer. 

I have spent so many years trying to heal from being bullied as a child, and here we are, 27 years old, ripping off the old bandages, because they are weeping. I'm trying to bind on some new, stronger ones. Bandages that I hope will last the rest of my life once my heart is less broken. 

The rejection has hung so heavily on so many areas of my life. Believe me when I say that I fully know that a lot of this stuff is so small and SO petty. But, pretending the pain isn't real hasn't done me any good so far. So onward we trudge. 

They say that comparison is the thief of all joy and I fully FEEL that. For a long time I thought it was only MY comparison of myself to others, but it goes way beyond that. This ending has hurt me, my family, my parents, my other friendships. It has changed the pictures on the wall, and the memories in my head, it has changed the way I think about friendship with other women, it is bleeding out into so many other lives. 
Comparison, or the refusal to look past ones differences to those around you, sucks the joy right out of everyone.  There is so much pain inflicted when we choose NOT to accept the differences that make us unique, like eclectic style or traditional parenting, and therefore exclude those people from our lives. 
I see it on social media all day long. Like when I was told I should probably cut off my daughters breast buds because that's essentially what I did to my son by circumcising him. Or here in Oregon, children from tribal communities are told not to play with children of white communities. In a society that is SO diverse and fighting to be so inclusive of all races, genders and lifestyles, I'm amazed at how the spectrum swings so far in the other direction and we sit behind our screens and fight about circumcision, co-sleeping and what kind of milk our kid drinks. Then we further refuse to associate with those people because their lives are a little bit different than our own. 

Today I find myself heartbroken. Tomorrow might be better. Most days I'm just OK, as long as I don't let my mind wander. On those wandering days, I unravel. Because I can push away these thoughts right up until someone asks me about this particular friendship. The moment her name is mentioned, all of these feelings come flooding back making me feel like the ugliest, most despicable human. 

Hear me. I KNOW I'm not. But for whatever reason, whether it's the astrology of a leo, or my personality type as an INJF, or how God simply made me, criticism and rejection is extremely difficult for me. I wish I was one of those people that could brush it off and move on with my life. But some part of me also knows that there's an inherent value in a person who can feel all the feelings, talk about all the feelings, and have the bravery to share them so that they might help someone else. 

I know I must believe that those lies that I'm not enough, are just that, lies. I know that I will have to teach my children that the differences we have are what makes our relationships stronger, our respect for each other more deep. 

Next week I might walk confidently in my choices as a wife, a mother, and just as a human. So often I forget that before I was Seth's wife and Felix and Josie's mom, I was Jamie Skaates. I was an individual with an opinion and a sense of adventure. I was funny, caring, empathetic, and honest to a fault. I got spontaneous tattoos and laughed until I pee cried. I loved history and jigsaw puzzles, and was a fiercely loyal friend. I still AM all of those things, I am the same person I always was. Now I have different priorities and daily routines. But I'm still me. Maybe what hurts so much is that I'm still the same person that she once loved, but now she can no longer can even stand to be around me. Who I am, was once enough, but now it is not. 

I'm not really sure if there is a moral to this story. I think I might struggle with finding closure for a very long time, and I'm learning to believe that that's ok, and that I need not be defined by someone else's issue with expressing their honest, real feelings.  

I hope that in sharing this, maybe one person might be comforted in knowing that God has declared us enough, enough to die for even. Another might feel less alone, or that there is hope on the horizon. Maybe another might feel encouraged to search deep down for the confidence and enough-ness that only comes with time and a deep sense of self awareness. 

I want to end by saying that I know I am enough. Not because I have done anything spectacular, but because God has declared it so. And even though there are days like today when other feelings cloud my belief, it doesn't make it any less true. I know that He is near to me in my broken-heartedness. I will strive to not just believe that in my head, but make it a reality in my heart. 

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