What did you believe when you were small? Did you like yourself? Or were you like me, scared to say or even feel that you liked yourself because that seemed conceited. They warned us about appearing to be “conceited” because that was arrogant. It was a terrible sin. I knew that some people said they “like themselves best.” But I felt sorry for them. It seemed like the proper thing would be to say that you liked others more than yourself. And at that time, I felt strongly that most people were better people than me. As a very insecure child, trying hard to please my parents and other caregivers, I always fell short.
Liking oneself took a long time for me to assimilate. It just seemed wrong. I got better at it as a teenager because I saw others doing destructive or just stupid things. That was NOT behavior that appealed to me. My behavior pleased me because it was thoughtful, and I tried to be good. Since I married young, those temptations that many young people had were no longer available. As a young wife, it was time to grow up and learn to know myself. And as I was immediately pregnant, I needed to think of one other besides myself. Then there was my young husband. Husbands required looking after, I knew. Somewhere in there, I began to depend on myself genuinely. I began to trust myself. And best of all, I began to like myself without feeling guilty about it. (Or conflicted.) This was new. Almost raw with emotion, I tenderly, gingerly explored the idea of liking myself (warts and all). It was a revelation to realize that it was not necessary to be perfect to like myself. Wow! Really?
That was a great time in my life. I was pregnant 4 times in 3 and a half years. We had three healthy children and a miscarriage between number 2 and number 3. We were fertile. It made me feel powerful. Feeling personally powerful and capable of doing absolutely anything, which resulted from having those children so fast and so young. It was what I wanted to do. They did not interfere with some idealized career path. I had none. It was still acceptable to wish to marry and have children and keep the house in those days. And that is what it took to make me feel complete. That was as far as my early imaginings had taken me. Volunteer work gave my life an extra dimension. Our social life was expanding, and it was gratifying to know people enjoyed our hospitality.
Later, due to financial reasons, my career in Real Estate began. And what a surprise it was to discover that working was fun and rewarding and empowering (in a different way from motherhood.) I was good at it. It rewarded my inner child and looked very grown up to those observing my life.
But I still thought I needed more. More things to make me happy, to be fun, to show off, to fill up every spare place in my house or closet. More things, a new car, evening dresses, and a trip to Europe seemed necessary. Of course, private schools for our children and a whole list of other “things.” We needed to entertain and celebrate anniversaries with big expensive parties. We needed better horses, more tack, and perhaps a bigger stable. Almost all of this excess was just perception. My mistaken perception, but it seemed real to me then.
This meme is profound. However, I have learned that what some people find obvious is a mystery to others. As a result, this post is designed to enlighten those who need more explanation.
The most important thing I learned as an adult becoming “whole” was that I already have enough. It is the most beautiful realization. I am enough, what I do is enough, and I have enough. Once I understood that, I was free. Free to enjoy life without longing for more of anything at all. What a pleasure! Like being satisfied after a delicious meal and knowing there was enough.
Getting to the point where one knows that one is enough happens at different times to different people. Some never make this discovery. Some people seem to have sprung a leak somewhere in their psyche. They cannot seal it up. There is a seeping loss of pleasure in what they have already. There is never enough to satisfy these people, and they continually crave more and more of everything.
My gratitude for my life is my daily state. “This is my time.” After some years of putting others’ needs ahead of my own (even though I knew better), I am now free to follow my own inclination. What a pleasure that is. Almost as good as knowing I have enough. And that is what I wish for you. Know that you have enough, what you do is enough, and you are enough.
Copyright©. 2020 Bonnie B. Matheson