Discover more from The Tali Steine* Writing Project (*pseudonym)
Sukkot just finished. For years, on Sukkot, I've had this thought that I should be doing more. Some days I'm able to spend more of the day in the sukkah, and some days I spend just a few minutes, but no matter what I do on Sukkot, I always feel like a failure. It's never ever enough.
My IFS therapist and I have been exploring that. Today, we heard from a younger part of me who told us about how being enough for my mom meant the possibility of bit of care, or at least the lack of outright hatred and constant criticism. My mom greatly valued being pleased or entertained, and so I would sacrifice everything over and over again to receive even a drop of warmth from her. I wanted to believe that it was love. Perhaps I needed to believe that it was love.
I've come to see that I also held beliefs about the necessity of doing enough for my dad. As a child raped by my father, there was no one to tell me that the abuse wasn't my fault, that I didn't deserve it. In trying to understand why it was happening, I came up with all sorts of beliefs. One of the beliefs was that my father wanted me to be his slave.
I thought that if I just sacrificed myself to him willingly, rather than fighting him in my mind (of course, I couldn't fight him physically- he crushed my body and bound my hands) I could somehow prove that he had already mastered me. And if I could just do enough to prove that he had already mastered me, then, surely, surely(!), he would stop the rape.
It turned out that nothing was enough to stop the rape. But years later, I'm still terrified not to be enough. Not being enough was dangerous as a child, and I'm sure that this part of me who contorted herself to serve, to sacrifice, and to be enough helped to ensure my survival through years of horrific torture and abuse.
Today, after as we listened to that part of me speak, I could feel my inner light shining through. My feelings about Sukkot aren't about being enough for my parents, of course, but rather about being enough for God. I used to believe that God was like my parents, but now that has changed. The God I connect with now is an extension of my own light. She is kind. She is compassionate. She is loving.
God echoes who I am. My soul. My core. My self.
My light tells me, "There is no level of service that you must reach in order to deserve love, to deserve care, to deserve not to be harmed. Even if you never set foot in the sukkah. Even if you didn't build one. Even if some others don't understand about healing from trauma. Even if the world sometimes prioritizes the needs of abusers over their victims and survivors."
You are always enough to deserve love. You are always enough to deserve not to be harmed. Even if.