Thirty Two vials of blood….I think this was a record for me. I was at the lab once again gathering information for my doctor as we put together the puzzle pieces of the chronic illness issues I am currently dealing with. Note, that I say “THE chronic illness” because I do not identify myself as such nor do I choose to live into the diagnosis, and…I say CURRENTLY, because I accept my present situation but it is not going to occupy my life forever. I know that my words steer the direction of my life so I am careful to use them wisely. Something we all need to consider. Do I enjoy this frustration, overwhelm and discomfort? No way! Does it make me angry and question God? Absolutely …but I do not doubt God…not even for a minute because I understand the role of faith and hope. If we lose that, then how are we supposed to get through tough times? You don’t have to believe in God, but a life without hope and faith will indeed be a struggle. It’s normal and okay to be upset and ask the dreaded question…WHY ME? I can bet you have asked that question yourself when you meet seemingly insurmountable circumstances, devastating loss, pain and suffering or when you find yourself in a rut.
As the nurse began to draw my blood, she did so in an aggressive way…not how you would like to have it done I might add. I tried to make small talk to ease her up, but that seemed ineffective. I then thought to myself, maybe she is dealing with a challenge like me? I came right out and said, “Is it just me, or has this been a pretty rough start to the year for everyone? I have encountered more and more people who are going through rough times and the overwhelm seems insurmountable.” I could sense her connection …I then mentioned financial, health, family, stress….she looked up for the first time straight in my eyes and began to tear up. She told me “ALL OF IT” …as she continued to take vial after vial, now with a bit more kindness, she began sharing her pain. She felt like she was a failure at managing her life. She never felt good enough ….like there was more she could be doing to remedy the struggle. When is it ever enough? I feel that way all the time….
I then reflected back to a conversation I had earlier that week with an old friend I recently reconnected with. He knew me since I was 18 and witnessed many of my challenges. In the middle of my update with him, he all of a sudden said, “Jen, you are doing enough…you are good enough just as you are.” You have no idea how I needed to hear that. I started to cry. It reminded me of when I was 17. I almost lost my life to an eating disorder. I was in the hospital for 2 months and overheard the doctors say the Goodwin patient was going to have this chronic condition the rest of her life or die. The nurses would tell me that I would be accepted and ok WHEN I was a certain weight or reached a more stable state of health. Not once did they tell me I was loved and a good person just as I was at that moment. It was only when I was better would I meet their approval. But what about right now?
Was I not ok as Jennifer even in the fragile state I was in? I know I had issues to deal with but why couldn’t they approve of me just as I was? Isn’t that what we all seek? We just want to have someone just say:
" It’s okay, you are good enough, you are doing enough for this moment…stop being so hard on yourself. You don’t need to prove anything."
You see, when you believe you are good enough, it doesn’t make you sit back and become content, give up or settle. On the contrary, believing that you are enough, just as you are…. with all your failures, insecurities, flaws and missed opportunities….allow you to take a deep breath, hit the pause button and accept where you are without judgment. Then you can reestablish a clear vision of what needs to be done to move forward. You gain strength and newfound courage. You are not being motivated by fear but by love for yourself and the life you intend to live.
I cannot tell you how many people I have run across this week who need to hear this message that they are enough and are doing what they can with the knowledge and resources that they have. We are not a machine and most importantly, we DO NOT HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO FIX EVERYTHING.
We just need to remain open and willing to be available when the answer shows up….and have faith and trust it will.
When you have one of those hard days, and you are coming down on yourself, try what I do to ease the criticism and judgment. Find a picture of yourself when you were a little child. I want you to look very closely at your face…your eyes…your smile. Look deeply at the innocent young child who sees the world as a brilliant playground with possibilities and pleasure.
All this child wants is to be free, held and loved. Love that child now. Tell your younger self that it is all going to be okay and how you are good enough….tell yourself you are loved. Tell your younger you that you are sorry for the judgment and criticism you have shown….ask your younger you for forgiveness. When you forgive yourself, then the freedom to live fully as you emerge….life opens up and you move into the life you were born to live.
When you rise up tomorrow, know you are enough…JUST AS YOU ARE. Your younger self will thank you.
With Love and Hope,