Not Enough is my Dark Twin who lives below the sea. She is waiting for me to join her – to look her in the eye and to accept her as my other half, to swim with her and make mischief together. Although she’s in no particular hurry – after all, she’s been circling me since I was a little child – it would be nice if I could meet her this lifetime. She looks at her conch shell watch and notices that we are turning 50 soon. This gives her an idea – she’ll send her helper Impatience to remind me of the time.
Impatience is one of a harem that lives with Not Enough and does her bidding. Not Enough is the an entire darkened sky; Impatience is a cloud. Not Enough is the stormy ocean; Impatience and her kin — Invisible, Doubt, Martyr, and Under Accredited — are the waves. Each one pushes me up toward the sky and crashes me back down. Each one is a reminder of how I am not enough.
I’ve come to hate each one of them and the way she gnaws at what feels like my birthright to be beautiful, at ease, and authentically alive. Each one has her clever means of keeping me in discomfort, of fogging my vision.
Invisible makes me feel small and unseen. When no one “likes” me on Facebook, she reminds me that I’m not worth being noticed. When everyone I invite to a dinner party is busy, she conjures up the image of the dodge ball games in elementary school when I was chosen last.
Doubt has a stutter. She starts me and stops me. She pushes me ahead — “Go! Go! You’ll be great!” — then thinks better of it and quickly, abruptly pulls me back. The call I made on Friday feels like a shitty idea on Tuesday now that I’m sitting a coffee shop waiting for the appointment to arrive. The workshop I signed up for in January … well, could I get out of it now? Doubt simultaneously believes I need something more and that I’ll never get it.
Martyr holds me by the ankles. I stand in the kitchen – the Epicenter of my Martyrdom – cleaning pots, filling bowls, dicing and chopping. Martyr has cruelly used activities and people that I dearly love against me. Of course I’ll cook for my kids. Of course I’ll walk the dog. Of course, of course … and in that course I find myself exhausted and angry because Martyr, forgetting to add a pinch of joy, tastes only of salt.
The last and most awkward of the group is Under Accredited. She loves to read other people’s bios, whether on workshop descriptions or on book flaps. She spies the trainings and degrees, the work experience with the funky museum job and the time spent overseas. Anything that speaks of a level of experience that is outside my grasp is hers to wrap around me — round and round until I’m bound and cannot move.
By comparison, Impatience can actually pass herself off as helpful. She keeps me moving – the Wicked Witch on her bike, hurrying to chase the tornado. Her nips and bites get me to finish work on time. She takes credit for my successes and rebukes my failures as laziness.
Who are you, Impatience? “I am your mother waiting for you to grow up so she can have her life back. I am your grandmother who never got chosen for the clarinet competition, wishing she’d been born at a different time. I am your grandfather, the farmer, staring at the sky, ready to plant, ready to harvest, chasing time. I am your father, grinding his teeth and making to do lists in thick, black ink. I am you, obsessed with a calendar that can move faster and faster to take you out of childhood and into adulthood. I am you, watching your baby and toddler while craving time to write. I am you, terrified of death, of what is not yet done.”
I count. Six weeks until I turn 50. 8 months left in my training. 3 years before my daughter graduates. 4 years until my boss retires. So many ways to count, each one adding up to Impatience.
I seek freedom. I seek a balm. I long for these robes to fall away, one by one, until I’m standing naked in front of Not Enough and we can embrace. I am so ready. In the middle of the night, blanketed by anxiety, I feel impossibly bound to this place of discomfort and stupidity. Not stupid like the kid who hasn’t tried hard enough, but like the donkey in a parable who simply does not have the capacity to know any more. Stuck.
I ache to ride over the waves into the soft place where the ocean has grown calm. To delight in my Being. To dance.