You Are A Lot, But You Are Not Too Much

I’ve searched for it. Scraped over the events of my past in search of the moment I began believing that I was broken. The moment I accepted that something in the foundation of my being was flawed and that no matter what I did, no matter how whole I learned to be, I’d still never quite be enough.

I can’t find it. There isn’t just one pivotal moment. I wanted to look back and find the flashing sign so that maybe, if I traveled back to it in the right way, I could journey out of it differently.

It didn’t work like that. Just as there was no clear way in, there was no clear way out.

The course of my life as I got older was messy. I was messy. I learned how to present an image of perfection and togetherness on the outside, all the while raging with angst and discomfort on the inside.

It was like an itch on the inner layer of my skin-something I could always feel but never reach.

Somehow I got used to that itchy ache sitting below the surface of my skin; but not because I accepted it or even dealt with it. I simply found ways to dull the sting, and it was always unhealthy. It was always something else that was killing me. Something external that attempted to match the internal rhythm of pain and malady; as if layering broken brick atop shattered glass would somehow smooth it out.

Over time, rather than figuring out what inside me caused this constant nag of insufficiency, I found ways to simply confirm the belief. I blew through my own life like a hurricane-always trying to clean up the debris and aftermath of my own self-created storms. The result of that was self-destruction; which, whether done silently or stridently, would always leave me feeling like a mess. And there was always plenty of evidence to prove it was true.

Through the years, the belief that I was never enough compounded itself with the proof, and I developed another layer. A layer that said I was not only not enough, but also too much.

Too messy. Too needy. Too emotional. Too difficult.

I couldn’t understand myself, so how could I ever expect someone else would be able to? How could I expect anyone else would be willing to?

In retrospect, it could very well be that belief that solidified the rest. The erroneous question, “Who could love me?” lead me to an answer that was equally wrong.

No one.

Not even me.

So I fell into situations that answered the wrong question over and over. Constantly searching for a different retort in the midst of the same query.

The belief never changed, so of the course the answer stayed the same.

I’ve fought my way through that wreckage and at times, despite the victory, there is still a low moan of that old familiar credence. I simultaneously hear its call and silence its screech. While parts of my soul have both the belief “not enough” and “too much” cemented into it, the other parts of me labor to release it. It’s a constant proposal I must daily refuse.

As of late, the “not enough” lie has dissipated and for the most part, even if my brain questions it, my heart knows I am enough. But as the truth of who I am and who I was made to be becomes more evident, as I inch closer to stepping fully into the over-sized shoes I’m determined to fill, I can’t help but wonder if I am in fact too much.

Not long ago, after what on the surface appeared to be another confirmation of my “too muchness,” that itch surfaced itself once again. Through choked back tears I said to my mom, “It all circles me right back to the belief that I just really am too much.”

She looked at me and with no hesitation said, “You are not too much. You are a lot; but you’re not too much.”

And with the release of her words came permission to begin forgiving that old tired lie.

The tapestry of my life has not been a simple one. The patterns are complicated and if you look too closely, it can appear too knotty to navigate. It’s all woven itself together and to the untrained eye could be overwhelming. But to the people who look at the whole picture, rather than seeing a complicated mess, they see an intricate masterwork.

Something that is a lot to take in, but never too much. Something that is exactly enough, and more than good.

I have learned, however, that the most important person to view me through that lens is me.

Until I understand my value, no one else can. And even if they can, they’re belief can’t sustain mine.

I no longer feel the need to layer bricks on top of my brokenness. That extra weight only served to crush me. As I learned to lift the layers, I learned to see the wholeness within my jagged pieces. Maybe they don’t all fit together perfectly. Maybe some of them don’t fit at all. But each piece has value and together, they create the whole picture of who I am.

The not enough and the too much. The beautiful and the damned. The serrated and the smooth.

So I never found a singular moment. I found all of them. And in that process I learned that I am a lot, but I am not too much.

“But like ivy, we grow where there is room for us.” Miranda July 

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