Maybe I Am Okay

Yes, I want you to like me, to love me, to include me. Yes, I still suffer when the passions that call wildly in me are different than yours. A challenge––for someone sensitive, someone traumatized (aren’t we all?), someone creative––to dare follow our own call yet not force it upon the world but share it, show up. To show up in my own skin and dare to be (no matter the reaction around me) has always been a challenge. As I get older, I get better at seeing the humor, the game, the play and the importance. That we humans are similar yet so different, as each snow flake is different, as each breath is unique. 

We want to be part of the tribe, to fit in, so we are always unconsciously adjusting ourselves so we can. Maybe that’s not always such a good thing. And why taking walks alone in the forest, being deep in nature, is crucial at least for me. To feel the authenticity of nature can allow the more vulnerable within to arise, to feel in the quiet (or the organic noise of nature) that we are okay and more than enough.

I think of my mother who I always wanted desperately to please. We’d worked through so much the last years of her life and yet just before she passed, it seemed she’d forgotten. One of the last days of her life, while visiting her in Massachusetts, we sat together with one of my brothers. Her face compressed, her shoulders aching forward, desperate for love. Like what we’d later witness in photos from her childhood. That same caving in, that same expression: please don’t send me away. How I struggled with my mother in my youth, her need for me to measure up, to fit in. Seeing her just before her death made me realize how she carried this––her fear of being sent away––her whole life.

We sat in the circle and my brother took her hand. “When you were a little girl,” he said, leaning close and speaking in a soft, caring tone, “your mother told you that if you weren’t good, she would send you away.” My mother’s eyes filled with tears. Soon eighty-nine years of living, soon she would die, and still that little girl ached inside her, the little girl never good enough. 

“Listen to me now,” my brother said. “You are good enough. We will not send you away. We love you.”

“But I…” my mother had lost her voice. It was just a croak coming out. She looked at me, more tears streaming down.

“I know,” my brother said. “You’ve been saying this again and again the last weeks, how terrible a mother you’ve been to Deborah. That’s why we are here in this circle. She’s traveled from Norway to sit with you, to let you know she is okay, that she loves you and forgives you.”

I didn’t wait for permission from my brother who was leading the ritual. Instead, I took her hands and repeated the same words. She was sobbing now. 

“It’s okay,” I kept saying. “I love you, forgive you and want you to know that you are good enough, you are okay.” Then we all repeated this over and over, like a Greek chorus.

I have carried this legacy from my mother, of never feeling good enough. Many bad decisions were made due to this endless need to be confirmed that I am okay. It can be a bottomless pit unless I confirm it in myself. Remind myself that I am okay, good enough. Do what I can of service to others, and continue to be in nature and in water. To dance and sing, even if it sometimes no one wants what I have to give. I need it, that sense of being okay no matter what.