When I am in a dark place, two words can sum up almost everything I feel: never enough.
These words are a ghost haunting me.
They are a bell that tolls, the echoes heard in every corner of my mind.
These two words apply to everything I do.
I’m a daughter… but I’m never enough.
I’m a writer… but I’m never enough.
I passed my test… but it’s never enough.
I got out of bed today… but it’s never enough.
I measure myself constantly – comparisons and scales – because I want a logical way to think about things. If I have numbers, I can read them. I can understand them.
But I know that they’ll show that I’m never enough.
And not only am I not enough… but I also believe I’m not even hurting enough to excuse the darkness dragging me down.
Who am I to hurt?
What right do I have?
There are people out there with real problems. Yet I can’t get out of bed. I can’t look in the mirror. I can’t get through the day.
There are other people who have it worse.
There are people out there starving. Who don’t have homes. Who walk miles for water. Who have absolutely nothing.
When I sit and think of every awful possibility in the world, I get caught in a cycle: I’m hurting…I hate myself for hurting because I have no right to hurt…I’m so selfish…and I hurt some more.
But here’s what I’ve learned:
Knowing your place and privilege in the world is important. But it doesn’t mean you aren’t hurting. Someone else’s struggles don’t make your pain any less valid.
The thing about pain is: It’s important because it’s yours.
And pain is relative. You can’t compare pain because it’s so unique to each of us.
Some people can get through so much and fight battles without a flinch. They wipe anguish away like dust off their shoulder.
You might look at these people and think, I can hardly breathe trying to wake up today. I’m suffocated by my thoughts, and I feel paralyzed. And yet… I’ve got nothing valid or worthy to fight. I don’t have real struggles in my life.
And there are other times you’ll have good days within the darkness, and you’ll second-guess yourself.
You’ll think that because you’ve had a good day that you’re OK, that people who really need help would feel bad every single day.
You might start to believe that you were faking it, that maybe you were doing it all for the attention. You attack yourself for feeling this way. You try to measure your pain again, and you still end up feeling like you’re not worthy of help, of love, because you’re not hurting enough.
But what is enough?
Is it measured in marks on your skin, pounds gone, days lost?
You might think you need to do more, to feel more, to hurt more in order to be worthy of a helping hand.
If it feels like your world is collapsing, if you feel numb, if your life is devoid of color, you are worthy of help. You are worthy of love.
It’s enough. And you are enough. And whatever pain you are feeling is enough.
You don’t need to hit your 10 on the chart to ask for help.
Whether your pain is a 2 or a 12, you deserve to heal.
You aren’t wasting time. You aren’t being a burden. You aren’t taking away resources from people who “need it more.”
You need it. You deserve it. You don’t need to be over it.
You aren’t too young to know pain. And you aren’t too old to still be fighting it.
No matter your age, sex, religion, or background, your bones can ache, your heart can hurt, and your soul can feel heavy. Your mind can be filled with shooting pains that attack every part of your body.
And of these, there is no lesser pain. One doesn’t rank above another.
It’s OK to not want pain. It’s your right to get help.
Even if you think it doesn’t measure up.