I am not enough

In May of 2020 I hit a wall of despair about “the state of the world.” Again. Not much different than today, really.

Then a friend called me who was in worse despair. Much worse. Made my despair seem so silly. I was on the phone with him for 90 minutes, mostly listening, then got to the issue of self-esteem and did some constructive problem-solving. To help just one person was very helpful to me in lightening my load, put me back into belonging here after so much yearning for perfection. 

I need to listen to my own advice that I gave to my friend: your idealism is killing you, stand up for yourself and let it go.

So I looked for this post by Shoshi Morginn, “If you feel you don’t belong in this world, it’s because you’re here to make a better one.”

One of the comments on the original post that I loved, by Shari Dyer: “It is the belief that the individual should be enough that creates a lack of cohesion between people, and extrapolating that, creates a lack of cohesion in neighborhoods, towns, cities and country. We need each other.”

I’m not ashamed to say it: I NEED YOU!

This shame, this toxic shame of not being enough, really is about our not BEING HERE, not belonging and not connecting with our environment. It’s almost like not being completely born, isn’t it? Not fully arriving on this messy planet. The strange result of fully arriving is the awareness that the mess is totally and organically beautiful in all of its complete glory, because WE ARE, imperfect yet fully alive, feeling the full range of our feelings, suffering the incomplete healing of all our wounds. 

Paradoxically, that sets us free to roll up our sleeves and in the midst of our self-respect, take care of this garden as best we can.  Having said that, I forward this post by Tad Hargrave:

“Enjoy being utterly inadequate today.”

I had a phone call with a friend the other day. We’ll call her Jane. She had found herself struggling with multiple heavy things in her life, being a single mother, sexual assault and harassment from the past with someone who was still in her life, livelihood, feeling not at home where she lived and hearing the story of, “You’re not enough!” resounding in her head as a result of her not dealing as well with it all as she would have liked.

I’ve had a number of conversations with friends where they confess to feeling like they aren’t enough; inadequate.

And of course, in this culture, we’re not supposed to feel indequate ever. We’re supposed to feel empowered, powerful, together, on top of things, in control and always competent.

All the personal growth workshops and new age books affirm, “You are enough.”

But the question that must be asked here is: “Enough for what?”

Enough to deserve a space here in a body on this planet? Yes.

But… I think this can become twisted quickly. It can become the religion of, “I’m enough,” in the face of the madness of our culture.

You have a fight with a friend you can’t resolve.

You’re single parent struggling.

You’re an entrepreneur who can’t seem to make it work.

You’re an activist tired of losing.

You’ve got a mental illness and not a god damned thing you’ve tried has made a serious dent in your suffering.

And so there’s this thought, “I’m not enough to handle this… but I should be.”

What if the first part of that sentence was true but the second part wasn’t?

What if the first part of that sentence, “I’m not enough to handle this,” was as reliable a report as any you were ever likely to hear in your days? What if the thought that it should be otherwise, was why we suffered?

What if the suffering was human and the thought that we shouldn’t suffer was the inhuman part?

I recall talking with a single mother, years ago and her saying, “I feel like I should be doing a better job of juggling everything in my life.”

I narrowed my eyes, feeling something larger moving under the surface of the waters, “Better or perfect?”

She paused. “Perfect,” she said.

And there it was.

Sometimes in conversations like this, I want to lean back in my chair and say, “So you’re the one! Finally! I’ve met The One. The One who can live in the madness of this modern culture and be untouched by it. The one who is utterly unaffected by generations of cultural trauma and dislocation and living in the culture built from that. I’ve heard about you.”

It’s madness.

And so, while talking with Jane, I offered her this, “Here’s the truth as I see it. You’re not enough. Not to handle all of these things by yourself. It’s too much. That’s all more than any one person could handle on their own. It is too much. You are not capable of self-sufficiently handling that all on your own. You’re inadequate to that task.”

You Are Actually Not Enough

Humans evolved in the context of a village. This is something that, in the back of our minds, we know but often forget. We’ve all heard the proverb that it takes a village to raise a child. But it also takes a village to be born. To initiate that child. To get married. To die. To resolve a conflict. To be human takes a village.

Every worthwhile human endeavour takes a village.

Stated another way: an individual can’t do it.

Stated another way: your romantic partner can’t do it for you.

Stated another way: the nuclear family can’t do it.

Stated another way: concerning all significant and worthwhile human endeavours you are inadequate to the task.

And what’s so bad about that?

Coming to grips with that only means despair if we think we should be able to handle it all on our own.

Without that thought, our recognition of our inadequacy becomes not the roadblock but the doorway to more village in the world as we ask for more and more help.

The addiction to self-sufficiency is the mighty killer of village in this world. Our human limitations are terrifying to this part of us.

As we hung up the phone, I said to Jane, “Well, you know… enjoy being utterly inadequate today.”

She laughed, “I will.”

Perhaps the problem is not the likely accurate assessment that we are not strong enough to handle something on our own. Perhaps the problem is that we think we should be.

~ by Tad Hargrave

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