86% of Me Isn’t Enough

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unfriend, unlike“I wouldn’t accept any friend request from someone who is a Republican.”

That’s the conversation I saw two of my friends having on Facebook a year or so ago. It wasn’t out of context. They meant what they said. The statements were as clear as day, definitive, and I saw them appear right before my eyes coming from two women I respected and still do to this day.

At that moment, I had a mini heart attack. I thought, well I’m one, albeit a super moderate one, and we’re friends. Maybe they don’t know my politics and if they find out they won’t want to be friends with me anymore. I’ll be unfriended. As they say in those submarine movies, DIVE! DIVE! DIVE!

I’ve never had the easiest time making friends. When I was a kid we moved all the time, from Louisiana in 6th grade to Michigan in 7th, to Florida in 8th, and Illinois in 9th … we moved enough that I always felt like a stranger. I had to start over again and again introducing myself to fully formed groups of kids who weren’t necessarily looking for new additions to their club. And why would I do the hard work needed to convince them otherwise when I’d likely be leaving as soon as I wormed my way in?

This is why my friends are so important to me now, and why I cherish the friendships I’ve made through social media. It’s novel and wonderful to have people know you and like you, as strange as that may sound. And yet there I was, looking at two people I liked and wanted to be friends with, was friends with, and they were saying they wouldn’t accept someone like me. So I dove. I dove deep.

It was easy enough to stay out of political discussions anyway, because I write a blog over here that is for ALL women. I don’t care what religion they are or if they’re atheists, what party they vote for, what sexual preference they have, I don’t care about any of it. I want to ensure that every single woman knows they are safe and loved at Postpartum Progress, and so I tried to stay out of discussions that might negatively influence that in some way.

This week though, I couldn’t hide that part of me anymore. I had to speak out about an issue I care about, and so after nine years of keeping my political beliefs to myself I spoke out publicly. I was so terrified. I imagined being unfollowed in droves. I had visions of friends talking offline about how shocked they were that I could be a cruel and evil conservative. I might have well been announcing I was Hitler’s grandchild. Since I was sure my friendships had probably been sort of touch and go anyway, this would be the nail in the coffin. People had never been convinced, they were just being nice, but now that the truth was laid bare, they’d be certain — Katherine is out. Out of the club.

The entire day I was on tenterhooks, and I don’t even know what tenterhooks are. That night, I spoke to my husband on the phone about how difficult it was to raise my hand and say, “Hey, this is part of me too.” I’ve spent so many years keeping that part down, because in my neck of the online woods it’s not popular to be who I am. My husband responded to my anxiety with three simple words: “You are enough.”

What?!

I have to wonder how I can have lived 43 years and never heard that said, even though I’ve heard it a million times, in a way that touched me in my core and made me hear it. It wasn’t until that moment that I recognized how much I keep quiet those parts of me that I’m convinced people won’t accept, and that the reason I’ve done that is because I’ve never believed I’m enough. His words hurt, to the extent that I could see how long I’ve believed that being all of me, not just 86%, is not okay. How sad that I have such little confidence in myself.  And yet, at that moment I also felt like I was coming up for air for the first time. Wait a minute, you’re right! Duh. I’m enough. What the heck have I been doing all this time?

I am the problem, and I am the solution. I have surfaced and I feel free.

Photo credit: © J.J.Brown – Fotolia.com

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Comments

  1. I am so sorry you were so worried. And you are, undoubtedly, enough.

  2. Yay! I’m working on self confidence all the time, and so much of the time I feel like you do. If you “expose” that part, or any other part you think is inferior or too weird or whatever, that you will be tossed out like yesterday’s newspaper.

    Rebuffing other people’s judgements is a hard thing to do. I still feel scared, like you said, at times. But really, the only thing that truly beats fear is action. You took it. Yay for you and for me since I’ve now seen you do it. And you NAMED it as such, which is even better.

    We all need to step out more like you just did. People will judge what they judge and YOU are not a mistake. You are enough for everyone who loves you, and even those who don’t.

    “So what?” needs to be more of a mantra for me. Yes, 40ish myself and sometimes I still feel like the 13 yr-old shy junior high girl is in charge of my persona. She is loved, but she is not in charge.

    Bring it, Katherine!

    • Yes. Tossed out like yesterday’s newspaper. Yes! Isn’t that the worst feeling? Like you’re really not enough, so you hold on tight but still feel it’s all just about to fall apart? So what is right. I need to say “so what” more often.

  3. I would never unfriend someone for speaking their truth in a graceful and honest way. You do so much good in the word, and if, as people, we can’t look at each other in human terms rather than as political labels, I fear for our future. xoxo, Cindy

  4. While it’s true that most of my friends on Facebook that I converse with on a regular basis are liberal Democrats like I am, I could never make a hard and fast rule about not having Republican friends, as I have members of my immediate family who are as conservative as I am liberal. (Car rides with my dad were always fun in high school when he’d tune the radio to Rush Limbaugh.)

    It’s more about what kind of person you are. I did unfriend a Republican the other day, but it was because of the bigoted anti-gay things she was posting. I can appreciate opposing viewpoints, but I can’t abide hatefulness. As I had to explain to another conservative friend (who I didn’t unfriend), I guess I’m intolerant of intolerance.

    You are a beautiful person.

    As you mentioned, you’ve made sure PPP is a safe place for women of all backgrounds and beliefs. That is what differentiates you from the caricature politicians who give your political party a bad name. We all need to remember that a label (like our political party identification) does not define us, and that stereotypes are not right in every case, even though the media may make it appear otherwise.

  5. You know I get this, so much. The assumptions made simply because of our political party affiliation. But people knew you(and me!) before knowing this part. And sharing this part shouldn’t change their feelings. I’m so glad you had the courage to do this! xo

  6. You are a truly inspirational woman, that writes a truly inspirational blog. Thank you Katherine, yet again, for a awesome read! You are enough! I am enough! Thank you! xx

  7. Please hug your husband for me. He is so very right.

  8. I get this, because I’ve been dealing with a similar internal struggle. I’ve lived my whole life under the shadow of my parent’s political and religious beliefs. It was only this year that I’ve begun to stand up for myself and for what I believe in. I need to live my life, not their vision of my life. Because, really, who knows how much time we have? I’ve wasted too much time ignoring what I’m truly passionate about.

    Thank you, Katherine. You inspire so many. Including me.

  9. I am extremely conservative. I try to stay out of the fray as I see people use words like bigoted and stupid.

  10. I’m so proud of you for speaking out for LOVE and EQUALITY. I deeply value your offerings on your blogs. Thank you!

  11. Thank you for sharing this, Katherine. My husband and I are Buddhist. I was terrified everyone would hate me when I outed myself. Many people thought I was crazy for being so concerned, but you were able to capture my fears. P.S. I don’t care one iota what your political affiliation is. Thank you for being you!

  12. K- I love that you felt free to share your beliefs, political or otherwise, publicly. And I am glad…for your benefit, not theirs, that people embraced you. I do wonder, however, if the response would have been so positive if you hadn’t been supportive of this particular issue, and had instead chosen immigrant rights or some economic in nature- a less polarizing topic- and one that generally democrats favor less, to write about. Honestly, I think YOU are the reason the feedback was so great- you are great, people like and respect you, so they can “get over” you being a republican.

    I just think it is ridiculous that people judge friendships or likability on politics. My best friend is an uber-liberal, divorced, black democrat. I’m a white, Christian republican (here I am outing myself in a comment on your blog- oy). Somehow we manage to be each other’s very best, and often only, source of support in every single area of our lives. If we couldn’t get over each other’s politics, life would be really lonely. I’m glad we are mature enough to overcome that and I feel sorry for anyone who can’t because I bet they are probably missing out on a lot of really great potential relationships as a result.

  13. I’m glad you spoke your truth, Katherine. It’s important to do that. It’s important for the world to know that we come in different flavors and if you go around making decisions based on stereotypes, you are going to miss out on some amazing things!

  14. I can understand your reluctance to go political, but this is the kind of thing that gives me – a liberal Democrat – hope that we can actually reach consensus and move forward. The national rhetoric seems so far apart, but when I talk to conservative friends I see that we’re really not that different. I wish more moderates on both sides were more vocal – compromise requires moderation and it’s the only way we’ll get anything done.

    • I think Jennifer has hit a big problem right on the head. So many from various political spectrums who are actually quite moderate and reasonable keep quiet out of fear of being blasted, or torn apart, or whatevever else, because the portion of the political spectrum that is in the media is so ferocious and the polar opposite. What we forget is that it’s often a small minority of the “other side(s)” that’s so extreme, but because they’re the ones that speak up, we continue to believe that there aren’t many like us (for whatever value of us a general you identifies with) and so we, the moderates, keep our mouths shut because we think we’re not enough or too much or whatever.

      If more of us who are “just perfectly enough” would speak up, though, maybe the extremist minorities could be silenced and we could take the country back from the edge of the precipice that their unwillingness to negotiate has brought us to.

  15. I found a quote recently that just kept playing through my head as I read this:

    Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.
    -Rick Warren

    Thank you for sharing. It’s unfortunate that there is so much judgement these days and not more acceptance… hopefully this starts a wonderful cycle!! :)

  16. This was a beautiful post! Really identified. I have struggled for years w/ people pleasing and thinking I was/am not ‘enough’ and also have a history of frequent moves. Great to see this struggle acknowledged and named. Thank you.

  17. hey, i just wanted to thank you for being there for me when i was in a spot, and to let you know that you are *so* enough. i’ve always admired you, and i’m proud to find myself in your social circle ten years after meeting you. so if you’re looking for more friends, count me in. i give a rat’s ass about your politics; i know your heart.

  18. I am the problem and I am the solution. So few words but damn if they weren’t precisely what I needed right now. And you’re husband’s right; you KNOW he’s right: you are enough. Anyone who would question your friendship based on your political leaning…screw em. They weren’t worth your friendship anyway. Seriously, aren’t our differences, whether they’re political or religious or box mix vs scratch — aren’t they what make the world so interesting? They are. You are.

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