A few years ago the surprise of a serious illness cracked me wide open. My entire existence was thrown into question and surviving because the most important work of any day. Yet again in this life, I was faced with the unanswerable question of: why did this happen to me?
The shadowy parts I thought I had so well managed, the parts I had labeled “victim” or “weak” and tucked into dark recesses, seemed to raise their voices in choruses of blame, mistrust and fear. And the louder they shouted, the more I became aware that this was no sudden shift, but the deeper voice of self-shame, self-doubt, self-questioning that had been whispering through my life as long as I could remember.
For a time I tried to ignore then. For a time I fell down.
But for me, in this lifetime, it became clear: you can either stay down and give up, or you can do the work. So I began. And after nearly three years of lifting layers and mining the shadows, I found all that doubt trickling down to one foundation shaking question:
“Do I deserve the bad things that happen to me? And for that matter, do I deserve good things?”
And there it was, the whispering undercurrent, snaking its way between my bones since childhood asking “am I a bad person? Is that why [xyz] has happened? Did those things happen because I wasn’t smart enough, strong enough, kind enough, spiritual enough, pretty enough, GOOD enough? Because I wasn’t ENOUGH? If I had been just a little more… would everything be better?”
For the first time I really heard these words, and began to pull the sticky tentacles out of my rib cage to get a better look. That’s when I began to see perhaps, PERHAPS, those questions of worth and deserving were not the honest core of me, but the questions of a terrified child. That those words really were cords wrapped around my bones; not who I am at my deepest core. And that child was never deserving of bad things. Ever. Really Ever.
For me, this was the shift, a pivot point that swings the whole mechanism of self-understanding. If I, my core self I, can pull that tentacle out and hear the young child asking “did I deserve this because I was not enough?” then I am filled with holy compassion and more than a bit of Durga-style righteous anger. I want to scoop that little girl up, hold her close, tell her she is precious and perfect, that I love her unconditionally, that she is important, and always, always far more than enough. I want to tell her she is worthy of love, worthy of every blessing this life has to bestow because she simply IS.
And here’s the thing: if I can feel that rise of love, if I can direct it toward that shaking voice doubting her very existence, if I can tell her YOU ARE ENOUGH then the truth is, I am sending that love to myself. I am healing one chasm-spanning, fraction of an inch, micro-macrocosm at a time. And those questions? They fade just a little each time.
I still question it. I still have moments where I can barely choke out the question “is this happening because I am not enough?” But these days I try to speak those words out loud so I can hear the child, the teenager, the 20-something, the woman I was even just last week. So I can hear her, so I can wrap her in love. Because she is a soul filled with light. She deserves love unconditional.
And we are so much more than just “enough.”
– Kelly Clark
I am UmberDove.
And by that, I mean an artist. One who hears stories in the wind, who paints because it is what her soul tells her to do, who smiths because the muse moves through her fingertips, who loves nothing more than the promise of an unexplored trail, the sound of the ocean in her ears, and scent of a serious cup of coffee.
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