The moment I realized I am almost enough, everything changed. I have been a stay-at-home mom for over eighteen years, and just as long, I have had the feeling I was supposed to be doing something else too. While being an incredible resource and mentor for my children, I have always been searching for that career, the one that would put me on the map. What map, and where I would land, I had no idea. Ideally, it would be oceanfront. I would have a room with a view. Beyond that? I just knew I was not there – yet.
Maybe it is because I am a Capricorn (probably not), or perhaps I always have wanted to nurture that creative side (maybe.) For whatever reason, that something else became writing. Putting my thoughts, feelings and stories down on paper felt like I was nurturing a piece of my soul that needed to be heard. Yet, no matter how much I wrote, I could not put that yearning to rest. The more success I had, the more it was not enough. It felt insatiable.
Don’t get me wrong. I feel blessed and grateful to be a mom. I am excited to have an outlet for my writing, one that others have responded and enjoyed. I should be ecstatic, fulfilled, overjoyed.
Why is this not enough?
It was not until my second daughter left for college that I sat with this question. Transitions in life force us to look at what we have been avoiding, running from. Losses, break ups, new careers, empty nesters – these are the perfect moments. It gives us the space to ask those hard questions, the ones we are avoiding.
Day after day, with a cup of coffee and a desire to get an answer, I sat. Early in the morning and late at night, I asked and waited, in silence. After some time, the answer came through slowly, in the echo of our empty bedrooms, and the opening of my heart. It began with a realization. It is not that my life is not enough. It is that I have always felt that I am not enough. No matter how much I did, I could not fill that hole inside that seemed to push me to keep going. That perfection that could never be obtained no matter how great a mom I was, or how much I wrote.
Like a detective, I began to trace that feeling to its source. I had some hunches that it came from more than one place, more than one person. Perhaps, it does not matter where it came from, only that I believed it. It became my motto. Keep going, keep doing, so you don’t have to feel that you are not enough.
When I stopped running, the hard work had begun. The first thing I had to do was recognize myself outside of the labels society has created. I am more than a mom, or a wife, sister, daughter, a writer, a dog lover. I am more than someone who jokes with people and prays for animals; the ones who have been hurt or neglected. I am more than someone who makes kick ass pancakes and loves to eat chocolate chip cookie batter. I am more than my favorite football team and where my kids go to college.
Once the top layer came off, I went deeper. As it normally does with an onion, the inner layers brought tears. I had to address the hard parts of my life – the betrayals, fears and grief. Those experiences we survive, somehow. Severe, chronic headaches, full term pregnancy loss, a category 5 hurricane and putting our family dog to sleep. Trauma and abuse throughout my childhood by adults that were supposed to care about me, love me. Eating disorder, alcohol, perfectionism – the coping mechanisms used to keep those unwanted memories at bay. Those difficult emotions like fear, anxiety and depression, passing through like an unwanted house guests, leaving unmade beds and dirty laundry.
The next layer was about the strength I acquired because of all I had survived. How I broke the cycle of abuse and raised my children to love themselves. How I stopped abusing myself. How I turned the hurt deep within to do good – to help rescue dogs and adopt my son from a Russian orphanage. How making others laugh and helping many to feel like they are not alone were things about me that positively counteracted that I am not enough feeling.
Self reflection and healing take time. Rome was not built in a day and neither was I. I don’t know how long it will take for me to feel like I am enough. I do think that hole has gotten smaller. With room to breathe, and the silence broken, the hole shrinks and along with it, the feeling that I am not enough has begun to fade.
I cherish my husband, three children, and dog, Bella. Crafting stories and heartfelt writing is my passion, as is having a daily, full body, belly laugh. My writing has been featured in Grown and Flown, Elephant Journal and Blunt Mommy. You can follow my inspirational blog, Alternative Perspective, at Bethmund.me. My co-authored book, Living without Fear is due out this fall. I have an M.S. in Psychology, and have enjoyed many years of mentoring adolescents and young adults.