Good Enough

By Vanessa Gordon

“If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?” Maya Angelou

I read and re-read these words after my first therapy session with my counsellor in September 2020. It was the beginning of many sessions that forced me to dig deep within myself. 2020 was not good to me. I had a breakdown. I was separated from my eldest daughter and my mother thanks to the international border restrictions. My role as a mother to an adult daughter and as a daughter to an aging mother shifted. I (and many like me) thought the world was ending as we all navigated through COVID-19 and I was in the depths of grief after a miscarriage. It soon felt like I had layers of pain one top of each other until it covered me and swallowed me up, I was at a breaking point. Spiralling.

The hardest part was taking the first step that I needed help. My first step was a phone call in the middle of the night to a crisis support line. The woman on the other line was my light during the dead of night through tears of desperation and overwhelming grief and exhaustion. I then found a good therapist. One of the first steps in healing was acceptance. Easy to say but very hard in practice. I had to accept and let go of trying to control events that are out of my control. I had to let go of other people’s opinion of me I also had to let go of my own opinions of myself. I was not being kind to myself. I had so many internal conversations. Negative self-talk and self-doubt I was self-destructive. I have written about depression and have been open about my mental health. All of a sudden just when I thought I knew what depression was, I met a new version of depression. It was like I levelled up. And not in a good way.

I had sunk into a hole. I stopped writing. I stopped creating. I stopped socialising. I ate all my feelings, and I took up smoking a pack of cigarettes a day to “cope”. I stopped praying, meditating, exercising, I stopped reading, and I stopped caring about my appearance. Having a shower was my best effort at self-care. I isolated myself and stayed away from all social engagements. Communicating how I felt was impossible. I could not articulate these foreign feelings it was beyond sadness. I felt constant hopelessness and then felt guilty for feeling this way. I was always exhausted.

For almost two years it was an uphill battle of never feeling good enough. Not feeling good enough was not a reactive feeling to anyone telling me I was not actually good enough. I had to learn to be good to myself. Days felt like forever. But days went by and although it felt like a battle a part of me always knew the fight to rise would be worthwhile.

And it was.

How did I practice being good to myself? I had help … a lot of help. I’m blessed with a partner that reminds me constantly that every bad moment will pass. I have daughters that remained patient and loved me through the entire season and I have a hand full of friends that remained constant fixtures in my life. I went to bed early. I started walking and eating better. I reduced my caffeine intake. I drank more water I stopped drinking alcohol I wrote down my thoughts and wrote notes to myself to remind me that I am good enough.

I started collecting houseplants (that’s a whole other story) I nurtured each plant as though I was loving and nurturing myself. Water and sunshine for the plants and water and sunshine for me. I went to regular therapy sessions and learned a lot about what triggers negative thoughts and feelings. I learned about trauma and healing and applied it to my life. I started to practice deep breathing and meditating and movement. I spoke to my GP and she started a holistic approach to help support my anxiety and depression. I also had to go back in time and deal with things from the past that I didn’t know I held on to. I had to work hard towards healing. It felt like a struggle but with my had on my heart I can say each day does get better.

I had to re-learn and re-frame my thoughts and be good to myself.

Because I am good enough.

If you’re in a personal crisis and struggling or you are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support call Lifeline 24 hours 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue 24 hours 1300 22 4636.