When I was young, I started to ask questions. Most of them were directed at my dad: Why does the water fountain follow us when we’re driving in the car? Why does it get dark earlier in winter? Why can’t I touch the sun if I jump? Some were questions I knew not to ask: Why is mom acting so funny? What’s in the big glass bottles that I’m not allowed to touch? However, there was one question that wasn’t directed toward anyone, but one that I came back to again and again: Why am I not enough?
I first asked it as a kid, watching my mom struggle with addiction, wondering why I wasn’t enough to keep her happy when all my friends seemed to be able to please their moms. The thought kept popping up, regardless of how hard I tried to beat it down throughout my formative years. Whenever something went wrong at home or someone called me a name at school, I questioned: What’s wrong with me? Why am I not good enough?
When I got a bit older, I started to think that instead of not enough, maybe I was too much. Maybe the reason I couldn’t get along with my mom at home and caught hell at school was because I was too weird, too fat, just too out of the ordinary for people to want to be around. I started self-harming at the age of 12, covering open wounds with band-aids and jeans in the middle of summer; disordered eating followed soon after. I dropped weight, and suddenly, I was pretty. People looked at me, complimented me—my mom was proud of me. Still, I felt like regardless of how much work I put into being pretty or how much I punished myself for existing, it (and I) would never be enough.
I fell deeper and deeper into a depression, to the point where not enough became more of an identity than my given name. The self-harm increased. And although I started eating again, I discovered purging. I gained weight and had daily weigh-ins with my mom where I was reminded of it. I kept purging. My teeth chipped. I broke blood vessels in my eyes. I couldn’t sleep at night, because I was busy with self-destructive behaviors and crying out to God, asking why I was so broken and unfit for the world around me.
People tried to correct my misconceptions. I’m sure God did as well. But until I stepped into a counselor’s office two years ago and made the conscious decision to fight back and unlearn everything I’d internalized, nothing stuck.
Over the past couple of years, there have been highs and lows, times I thought I couldn’t make it and times I have been thrilled simply by the notion of being alive. During the worst moments, I hold on to what I’ve come to know:
I am not too little, I am not too much. I am not too broken for love, kindness, or compassion; I am worthy of all of these things and more. Because a loving Creator sacrificed a son for me, even on my worst days, I am enough. I don’t need to be anything in particular; I just need to exist.
The same is true for each of us. Despite how messy we are, how broken we may be, by virtue of existing, we are enough. Even when we don’t want to take another step. Even when our hearts hurt. Even when it feels like the phone never rings and no one cares, we are enough.