Enough

when I was a little girl I did not wear any makeup and was content to push my slightly disheveled hair behind my ears

with grass stains on my knees and bruises on my legs from soccer balls and running until I could barely breathe anymore

as I grew older I began to stare at the flat planes of my body, coming together at sharp angles as if I were drawn with a protractor, and longed for the soft, willowy curves of the older girls who swept by me in the crowded hallways of school

I learned about mathematics and geography and how to absolutely decimate your sense of self worth with barbed words that jabbed at your weak defenses like the sharp pinprick of a splinter wedging itself into your skin

I was taught that my nose made me resemble Pinocchio more closely than a real girl

that instead of having dirt adorn my fingernails, I ought to have a perfect French manicure that glittered in the sun like little diamonds were sat on the tips of my fingers

and that my loud guffaw of all-consuming laughter was unattractive; that I should not explode with giggles like an unstoppered champagne bottle spewing bubbly, effervescent humor everywhere

in society we are taught that we must meet an unattainable ideal named perfection

that our self-worth is meant to be determined by the callous, cold opinions of others

with judgmental, dizzying rolls of their eyes and ladylike snorts of derision

or the greedy eyes of someone dissecting every inch of our body looking for a sadistic sense of satisfaction

that our bodies are permanent works of unfinished construction; a blemish on the skyscrapered skyline of a beautiful city with tall, seemly buildings towering up against a cerulean sky

and that our minds are no more valuable than a lost penny forgotten on the side of the road, scuffed and marred with scratches as the weather erodes its surface

like the haughty noses turned so high up rain would have fallen down their nostrils that glared at me from everywhere I looked

reminiscent the red, glowing eyes I often envisioned appearing in the dark depths of my closet

yet somehow infinitely more frightening than any monster could ever be

my thoughts have been warped as easily as a piece of paper is crumpled into a ball as a ill-conceived idea is thrown away

distorted as if they pass through a fun house mirror before they ricochet and echo around in my head

I remember husking corn in the dusty sunset of a day spent at my grandmother’s house

wishing I could tear away my skin as easily and swap it for a new one, as if it were as simple as zipping up a sweatshirt against the biting cold of a New England winter

feeling infinitesimally small as I watched that ball of fire sink below the trees until it disappeared below the horizon

as insignificant as an ant crushed beneath the heel of a shoe

with my vitriolic thoughts spilling out of me like its miniature innards

eventually these visions and ideas became so toxic that they infected my bloodstream and life with the poison of anorexia

which reached out to me with skeletal, beckoning hands

but looking for all the world like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, masked by a reassuring face and sickly sweet words of comfort

to all my fellow human beings who have suffered from the belief that they are not enough just as they are

big or small, short or tall, or any other description that doesn’t rhyme like a children’s poem

no matter the color of your skin or the strength of your belief in a deity or fate or whether you only have wrinkles from frowning or weathered lines patterning your face like rain against a windshield

to anyone who has ever felt like they are the runner limping across the finish line of life’s cruel contest

or a tree felled not by wind, but by the powerful whispers of those around them

battering your surface until you creak and groan; give way and surrender

to anyone who has ever put a ruler up to their body and wished for it to magically shrink away to nothing

who has wrapped a tape measure around their waist and cringed at the number that it reveals

who has refused their body the nutrition it craves because the number on the nutrition fact label glowered at you with a gaze that seared through your whole body

to anyone who has ever sold themselves short because you believed you were not worthy of a positive adjective or accolade bestowed on you by a beaming face

or felt anxiety crawl its way up your throat and cause your whole body to seize with fear of moving a muscle

and stared at the blank canvas of a ceiling while wishing for nothing more than the skies to darken and close over with clouds that match the depression fogging your head

to anyone who has ever doubted it:

you are enough.

 

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One thought on “Enough

  1. Dear Emma,

    I am a friend of your mother’s, and as someone who has been around Life’s block a few times, I want to tell you that YOU, dear girl, get to decide which messages you listen to. Choose the mightiest, most life- and self-affirming, and most loving messages. Right now, at this very moment, you are in charge. You are the gate-keeper to your own heart. You decide who and what to open it to.

    Kathleen

    Liked by 1 person

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