Over the last several years of my life, one particular affirmation has stood out for me. "I am enough." For me, this one simple statement encompasses a lifetime of feelings on inclusion and exclusion, not being enough and being too much.
There's so much I could say on this particular topic, and I find the strangest reluctance to begin. But this is the year I challenge myself to defy all the old barriers I've placed around my life. This is the year I speak my truth and embrace all of the parts of me — the dark equal to the light.
I am an empath. An empath is someone who is affected by other people's energies, and have a natural ability to feel and perceive others. For those who identify as empaths, we often are made to feel that our emotions are too much. We walk around weighted with the feeling that being so passionate and feeling everything deeply is somehow a flaw. It would occur to no one (least of all to us) that our heightened emotions were a part of our very nature and not a flair for drama.
Being the product of a devoutly religious family, I soon started to feel that I wasn't enough. I found that, no matter how actively I participated or how fervently I expressed my devotion, I would never be enough. My beliefs were constantly called into question when my passionate nature rose to the surface, or when I dared to question anything in my well-ordered life. Being somewhat personally conservative, yet socially progressive in a deeply conservative household was anathema. I felt like I was not enough throughout the trajectory.
Many of us have found ourselves in relationships like these where we were made to feel like we were not enough. Perhaps we've been told we're not smart enough, strong enough or were somehow incapable of being what others thought we should be. We've felt that weight pressing sharply between our shoulders as we've walked through our lives.
In romantic relationships, we can vacillate between feeling like we're not enough for some, and too much for others. Again, it seems as if we're falling short in some areas, but are too intense in others. As an empath drawn most frequently to narcissists, I hardly felt like I was enough for people. When I married, I married someone who saw me as being too much. In the dating world following my divorce, I changed my own patterns, but still feel the same messages being projected: too much, not enough, too much.
In the challenge of embracing who we are, we have to open ourselves up to being as raw and vulnerable as we can be. We can embrace the affirmation "I am enough" because we know now it's true. We are enough. Those who see us as not enough simply cannot see our light. Perhaps they are not far enough into their own journey to be able to discern our worth. Those who see us as too much simply cannot appreciate our power. Perhaps they have not yet recognized their own.
We have all felt either included or excluded in our lives based on qualities that are integral to who we are. We have heard the messages of not being enough or being too much, but the problem wasn't in the messages themselves. The problem was that we believed them.
As Anaïs Nin once said, "We don't see people as they are. We see people as we are." When the negative messages came in our direction, we accepted them as truth because we did not understand that others were projecting their own journey onto ours. As long as we do not acknowledge, accept and love the parts of ourselves that others see as difficult, we cannot understand that we are already enough. It seems that, so often, we've been waiting for someone else to affirm our worth. All we ever needed was to affirm it ourselves.
"I am enough" is a powerful affirmation, and one I still use. It can be so easy to absorb all of the spoken and unspoken energy around us. We must remind ourselves every day that we are enough. We must learn to own all of our light, but also our darkness. And we can learn to recognize the power and beauty in both. Only then — in complete acceptance of ourselves — can we truly embrace that we are, and always have been, enough.