Did you know I’m finally writing a book? I know, right? It’s not a novel or a bio or a manual. Or, I don’t know… maybe it’s a little of all of those. It’s basically a bunch of messes we get ourselves into and how to clean them up.
Before I got started, I put together a list of twenty five things we do to mess up our lives. I asked twenty five friends to anonymously choose up to 10. Several messaged me afterward to say something to the effect of, “I didn’t know I was so messed up.” My response was usually something to the effect of,
“Honey, we ALL are.”
The thing about messes is they’re not always obvious. We learn to hide them so well that even the mess maker can’t see them. We’ll sit in a pile of poo and fool ourselves into thinking we’re in a bed of rose petals, like that sweet young thing during the daydream sequences of American Beauty. But if you’ve watched that movie, you know how it turns out and all the bullshitting and hiding behind exterior trappings and puffed up personas didn’t save anyone from the messes they had made of their lives. The only one that got it right ended up dead in the end!
Don’t worry… I didn’t spoil it… it’s the first thing he talks about in the movie. “My name is Lester Burnham. This is my neighborhood; this is my street; this is my life. I am 42 years old; in less than a year I will be dead. Of course I don't know that yet, and in a way, I am dead already.”
Breathe that in. Did you feel anything there? It’s okay. You’re not alone. That’s why the movie was so wildly popular when it came out. It was completely relatable not only to men in their early 40’s who decide to buy the car they always wanted in high school or women who have to have the perfect garden. It resonated with everyone who has ever looked in the mirror and wondered how they got there.
So many years ago, I began a journey of self-reflection and recovery. I wasn’t recovering from a substance, but something as insidious. I was a co-dependent. I suppose I still am, although now I struggle with it less and less. Like a drug addict whose been clean for a few years might still yearn for the high he felt after a hit but abstains, I struggle with the need to fix people that I love and care about. My healthy responses to let people do their own thing, at times, still feels like bailing on them.
But I do have good advice to impart and life experiences to share, which is why I’m working on a coaching certification. I have that desire to help others with their struggles, but not to the point where they become my struggles and where I define my success or failure by someone else’s personal choices. Within that coach/client relationship, there are established boundaries… a safety net for co’s. I can still help people but only so long as they ask for it and work at improving their situation, and we make a fair and equitable exchange for that guidance.
I decided that putting together a short self-help book was a great way to promote my coaching services. After tossing around a few ideas and honing my Hot Mess Monday topics to the self-help favorites, I came up with a slew of things to talk about. I boiled those down to the top ten from the survey I sent out. Do you know what the number one result was?
“I don’t get enough exercise.”
This surprised me. I almost didn’t even add it, to be honest. Of all the statements I listed, it was the one that was the most surface level. I thought it lacked the depth of the other topics, but I wanted to have twenty-five for women to choose from, so I added it, thinking it would be one of the throwaway choices.
I thought about the women that responded to the survey. Remember… it was an anonymous response, so unless the woman told me, I couldn’t know who was choosing which of the statements. But I thought of the women as a whole and, for the most part, they were all fairly active. I mean, nobody is losing their mind on Instagram over their gains in the gym that day or counting macros in preparation for leg day, but they’ve all mentioned walking, hiking, yoga, running, or any other thing we do in between the cooking and the cleaning and the working outside of the home.
And then it hit me. I said “enough.”
That word. That word is the reason we get ourselves into so many messes. We’re not smart enough, we’re not pretty enough, we’re not thin enough, we’re not strong enough, we’re not hot enough, tall enough, fast enough, rich enough, enough, enough, enough…
Many of the women I surveyed tend to do two things simultaneously… delight in their wins (as they should) and beat themselves up for not being better. For not being enough. All the other messes they claimed they struggled with all stem from that one simple thought. We are not enough. Until we believe, on a cellular level, that we truly are enough, we’ll continue making those messes.
We’ll stay in relationships that don’t serve us.
We’ll avoid the difficult conversations.
We’ll stuff our feelings with food.
We’ll punish ourselves for our perceived weaknesses.
We’ll be nice when we want to yell at the people taking advantage.
We’ll stay in that pile of poo, and all the while, we’ll keep pretending that it’s a pile of rose petals.
Oh, my dear friends… I understand. I can speak to these messes because I made them myself. Over and over and over again. I am the Queen of Hot Messes! I’m also the person who embraced who she is and how she was created and learned to appreciate her quirks and loud laugh and round booty. I’m still a person who struggles with feelings of sadness and guilt and cries into her pillow some nights wondering how things might have been different, if only…
If only I had studied enough. If only I had earned enough. If only I had loved him enough. If only I was worthy enough. If only (insert regret here) enough.
But in my morning meditation and gratitude practice, I recenter myself and remember. And sometimes I share my struggles because I know someone else is struggling, too. I don’t think I can save you. I know you can save yourself. I just want you to know you can…
And that you are enough.