Did You Know You Are Enough?
August was a month.
Charlottesville. The solar eclipse. Hurricane Harvey. Mercury in retrograde. Barcelona. Violence, trauma, stars shifting, more violence. So much death. The sheer volume of pain took my breath away. By the time last week arrived, I had no words left in me to write.
Yesterday, I slept through the entire morning, and awoke determined to make something of the new month. I did the only thing I know how to do when I need solace, which is go to the water. I rode a bike across the city to the Potomac, and then kept going. I pedaled along the river for an hour. Surrounded by the forest, I felt like I could have been anywhere in the world. I was flying. When I ride or run hard enough, when my thighs burn and my lungs scream and I have no choice but to be fully present in my body, I can let go of everything else. I have everything I need and pull back the cover on the joy that is there, always there, within my body. I am whole.
You are, too. You only need to access yourself. I have never believed that we can be completed by other people, despite the cliché lines we love to hear in movies. We are already all connected, made from the same ancient stardust, and we are each our own perfect piece of the universe. We forget this too easily. We fracture from each other and ourselves, and we suffer for it. Shatter the illusion of isolation. I promise that beneath it, you will find everything you need. I readily admit that it has taken me a long time to understand this truth. So many people have told me that I am enough, but I never believed them. Until, one day, I did. I don't know how or why. In this case, I think it best not to ask questions and just believe.
I used to call Sundays my "Imperfect Day." The idea wasn't mine; my former therapist created Imperfect Day as a manageable way for me to start to let go of my perfectionism and resulting anxiety. She asked me why I punished myself so severely for my mistakes, and why couldn't I try to just stop? I balked at the notion of simply accepting all of my flaws. I was convinced something terrible would happen if I stopped my daily self-flagellation, that punishment was necessary penance for me to be enough. I couldn't just stop. I could, however, take a day off. I saw negative self-talk as important work, though I knew how twisted that was, and everyone should get a day off work, right? My therapist suggested that I start with one day, and eventually I might add another day, and someday I would accept my imperfections every single day. I laughed. I told her, "yeah, sure," and rolled my eyes. (Bless therapists for putting up with our bullshit.) I would have bet my life that I would never be able to change. The best I could do, I told myself, was give myself a brief respite once a week so that I could feel a little better.
More than five years have passed since the first Imperfect Day, and these days Sunday is just Sunday. I used to write Imperfect Day in my calendar every single week, but I haven't done that at all this year. I have discovered, with no small amount of shock, that I don't need to anymore. I make mistakes all the time, and I still beat myself up over them on occasion, but more often than not I can just let them be. I can let myself be. I don't need a day to not hate myself. I have no idea how I got here, only that it took time and small victories and more time and taking myself apart and gathering the pieces back together slowly, so slowly, until I found my way back to myself.
Now I live here. I live in this place where I am enough. Sometimes I forget that this is home, but then I fling myself heart-first into the world and I'm back. My lungs burn and my legs scream and my smile hurts and my joy is infinite. I live here. And make no mistake, so do you.