The most important thing I learned about myself when anxiety finally pushed me into therapy in my early 20s was that I have a powerful need to be good enough for everyone around me. Full disclosure: I was adopted as an infant…it was the classic tale of adoptive parents told that they couldn’t have a child and birth parents who were too young to raise one. It’s never been a secret…my parents have always made it very clear to me that, while I’m not blood related, I am no less their child than my two sisters, who unexpectedly came along later. Consciously, I’ve always believed that they truly mean that… But as many adopted children can understand, the subconscious abandonment issues are not fully engulfed by any amount of love given by adoptive families, friends, lovers…not even our own children. And so I spent the first half of my life so far doing anything and everything I could to prove to my parents that they were right to “choose” me…I busted my ass, stressed myself to the max, overachieved in everything I took on. Obedient child, check (for the most part). Academics, perpetual honor roll. Big sister, solid role model. Softball, star pitcher. College, academic and athletic scholarships. And everything in between. My stress back then was productive…it motivated me to reach my end game.
Unfortunately, on the flip side of that coin were my “failures”. I went through a rebel phase (not by today’s standards, but for my perfectionist self in the 90s)…and although I was an expert liar (sorry, Mom & Dad!), the guilt inside started to eat me alive. Of course, in adulthood, there are increasingly larger challenges, which lead to more satisfying successes…and also more debilitating failures.
Among my most consistent failures were relationships. I was always the jealous, clingy girlfriend who needed constant reassurance that my partner loved me enough to stick around. For those who stuck around long enough to try to convince me that I was loved, I often found myself seeking affection from other partners (again, really good liar). I was incapable of believing that I was good enough for anyone, no matter how many times anyone told me that I was. Picture my anxiety (and as it happens, my blood pressure) skyrocketing.
I met my husband when I was just turning 22 and he was 32. I was a hot mess emotionally, but was able to play the part of the fun, carefree, no-strings-attached kind of girl. Until I wasn’t. My insecurities started to trickle out, and then the floodgates eventually opened. Our first five years together were rocky…I was trying to navigate my emotions, he was walking on eggshells. Now we’re 16 years in, with two beautiful daughters. He reminds me every day how much he loves me, and that our babies are lucky to have me as a mom. But I never fully believed it…in fact, I’ve often felt like motherhood has been my biggest failure, and that my my girls deserve so much better.
…Enter the LRP crew. “Self-Love Experience” sounds so empowering, but it’s still somehow an understatement! What Lindsay, Erin and Randi did for me was a game changer. Having originally booked the session as a gift to my husband, I walked into the studio with very little self-esteem and my trusty anxiety (we go everywhere together). What happened in the studio transcended the physical…I had pushed myself to do something that was so far out of my comfort zone, and nailed it; I felt brave. Lindsay was so passionate about capturing these moments and so encouraging; I felt beautiful. I held some pretty impressive poses (she’s not kidding when she says streeeetch!!) for longer than I thought I could; I felt strong. I realized that even though the end product was intended as a gift for my husband, the real gift was mine; I felt relaxed. I felt worth it.
It’s now been two months since my session. I can say with absolute sincerity that, for the first time in my life, I believe my husband when he tells me I’m beautiful. I believe him when he says he loves me. I believe my parents when they say they’re proud of me. I believe that I’m doing the best that I can as a mother, and that my girls don’t expect perfection. I’ve spent my entire life trying to be good enough for every single person that I care about…except myself. I am brave. I am beautiful. I am strong. I am worth it.
I AM ENOUGH.