In 2011, I struggled. I shared my struggle with no one--no one but MS Word. I had expectations to keep, people to make happy. I had to be strong. I had an image to keep. So I vented to my laptop (as I've done many times), vowing to never show a soul because of how hard on myself I was--and worse, how deeply I believed those cuts to be true, and that exposing them would only solidify that truth.
Well, this week, for the first time ever, I allowed other eyes to read what I wrote--one of the essays from a dark time I thought had to be endured alone. The essay, though, is realistically just a journal entry--to me, anyway. It was a venting out-pour of the pain in my heart, and a rather sad one at that. I was encouraged this week, by these dear writers with whom I can share my soul, to share it with the public; to let others read the words they can probably relate to. I promised them I would. It's nothing more than a blurb from when my life was so utterly different than it is now, yet I seem to still fight the same internal battle.
The problem I faced then is that I was trying so hard to be what I thought I should be--what others wanted me to be. What I expected myself to be. I was trapped by those expectations. I have recently begun to conquer some of these mountains by finding who Jennie really is, and what Jennie really likes--and not being sorry for any of it.
But who am I kidding? No matter how much that changes, these other internal struggles and self-hatred will probably remain indefinitely. I guess my point to this is that when you are suffering, know you don't have to go it alone--that you are not alone. That's all.
Here it is:
So often I’m not good enough. So often I wish I was like everyone else. So often I’m living in the shadow of every imperfection. Disgusting, ugly, fat, tired, dingy, dirty, dorky. So often I daydream of being beautiful.
They say it’s what’s on the inside that counts. But what if the inside’s just as ugly as the outside? What if nothing you do is beautiful to anyone else but yourself? What if no one else can see that beauty and your talents go unnoticed, unappreciated? Are they just as meaningful, just as…beautiful?
There are transformation stories abroad, of ugly ducklings or talented, understated beings, turned beautiful from inside out. Beings who don’t see their potential until everyone else does. Beings that realize there is something to love in them.
Beings with happy endings.
This is not a transformation story. Just a woman hideous to herself on the outside, not beautiful enough to her husband, not patient enough for her children, and not good enough to the rest of the world.
An insecure teenager turned self-hating wife and mother.
A sickness, a madness—not cured by Godly love, by years of practice, or by beholding the beautiful things I’ve created. Godly love is out-shadowed by a mirror’s reflection or an unkind word. A constant comparison to others, a loved one’s condescending judgment and criticism: they all proclaim the ringing words that I. Am. Not. Good. Enough. In every way.
Can’t I be more confident? Can’t I be less awkward? Can’t I run better, socialize better, be funnier, be more…beautiful?
Can’t my children’s beauty and innocence and perfection, and the scars I wear from carrying them, be enough to testify I am good enough?
Can’t they testify that maybe I’m even better than good enough?
I’m a mother. I breathe because of them, I live every moment for them. Perfect, in every sense of the word, they are everything I’m not.
Careless giggles, innocent thoughts, pleased by beautiful simplicities. Godly faces, with perfect smiles, corn silk hair, and clearest blue eyes.
They love me. I yell, I lose it, I cuss, I’m ugly. Yet, they love me. They forgive when I scream. They forgive when I lose it.
They love me.
And above all my imperfections, this is the greatest: to be this way with godlike children, children innocent and only deserving of the best things. They deserve better than an impatient parent.
And I don’t deserve the forgiveness. I don’t deserve such treasures.
With them I am nothing.
And I cry to my God in gratitude, bruised knees and stained cheeks and a swelling heart. I cry in gratitude and beg to always have what I can’t live without: the best parts of me. I beg for their futures, that they will be better than me, that my imperfections will not rub off on them.
With them I am nothing.
And too often, I am not good enough.