What would you say to your 15 year old self?

you are enoughI bet you’d have a lot to say to your 15 year old self. I was asked that question this morning and felt such sadness well up. It was unusual like it had opened a window to glimpse something that I didn’t know existed.

What would you say to your 15 year old self?

I said, with tears streaming down my cheeks:

You’re smarter than you think
You’re more than a pretty face
You have so much to give
Don’t settle

What wouldn’t leave me after I answered the questions was how hollow I felt at that age. I made myself look good everyday – for the approval of boys, who later became the men in my life. I had no idea that I was here for more than that. My mom had given up her education to take care of her much younger siblings and she gave up a lot to take care of her family as I was growing up.

I took on that women sacrifice; we give up things for the betterment of others. We matter less than others.

That breaks my heart.

At 15 I was taking on that in order to be enough I had to empty myself of me, to fit in, to be ‘loved’.

So I emptied, I don’t know what I emptied out as I didn’t come from a culture that valued much more than hard work and no matter what, keep moving – don’t stop.

I emptied and married without finishing my education, I had babies and I emptied more to be a great mom, and oh so striving to be perfect wife – worked hard, served the needs of everyone before me.

I didn’t even notice me. My ‘job’ was to stay thin and attractive, I even had the occasional ‘fat’ test where my father’s children would pinch the skin on my legs and when I asked him what he was doing he told me he was seeing if I passed the ‘fat test’.

What I was at 15 I was even less so in my twenties and a scrap of myself in my 30’s. I poured myself out so the mould I was so desperately trying to fill would be perfect, would be enough and I would find love and the security that I so desperately sought.

When I was 30 I was diagnosed with the same genetic condition that my mother had died of when I was 22. I was terrified. The life expectancy was only 49 and yet I didn’t stop to fill myself up, to nurture my soul, I cleaned and prepared so if my first scans showed some awful tumours I would be no trouble. It sounds ridiculous but I cleaned every cabinet so no one would see that I was a ‘closet messy’ I at one point had 17 casseroles frozen so if I got sick no one would have to cook for me. I suffered from unexplained chronic pain, severe anxiety and got influenza that I could not recover from; eventually I developed a heart condition and lost 30 lb in six months.

I wore make up and nice clothes everyday, regardless of how I felt, to prove I was enough, I never slept in or got rid of anything on my overflowing plate. I took one day off in that 6 months and I always kept trying to look good and keep moving – my life’s mantra.

Still I did not see how empty I was…I was too busy. I had to be enough. I had to. I worked hard, tried to look good and surely that made me worthy of love and belonging.

Surely…Until one day I found out my husband of 16 years had turned his affection and attention elsewhere. He had found someone else that he delighted in and despite my attempt at perfection – I WAS NOT ENOUGH…Not one bit enough.

In therapy he told me that because of my genetic condition I was like living under a blanket of death and that I had GIVEN this condition to his son. He blamed me and even then I took it, I pasted that onto my shell as the truth. Who would want me?

I could work, stay thin, be a decent mom and yet I was so deeply flawed – He was right.

My 15 year old self was right – be pretty, play small, you don’t matter all that much.

I took on lies; I took on the notion that being a living shell of a being is ok as long as you appear a certain way and serve others well. It was all a big fat, empty lie and I gobbled it up.

I look back at that 15 year old kiddo and I tell her, I shout at her until my voice shakes and her ears ring

YOU MATTER

YOU’RE ENOUGH

Your flaws don’t define you, but refine you

You’re free to be who you were made to be – don’t play small.

I take that 15 year old girl onto my lap and I love her back to life, kiss both of her eyelids so she can see her worth and the beauty that has nothing to do with the way she looks and I whisper into her ear, you belong, you matter, you are deeply loved.

I don’t just say that to her, I say that to you…You are worthy of the deepest love.
You are perfectly imperfect and so much more beautiful and exquisite because of it.

You are to be cherished and held in the highest esteem.

You are remarkably you…

So I ask you what does your 15 year old self need to hear?

Don’t leave those words at your adolescent’s feet.

Listen to them, eat them up, and lather up your soul with their truth. Wash away the lies that you took onto survive.

Let those words bring dying parts of you back to life.

Bring to the world all of you, every last saucy bit.

You Are Enough.

Leona deVinne