I Am Enough

I was in church this morning with a bunch of strangers. I did not bring my family and my friend who's my connection to the church wasn't there. Though I don't know her personally yet, the gal who spoke before the offering felt like a kindred spirit. She discussed a recent freak out moment she had when she went into her sewing room and saw all the beautiful fabric she had in there. I could hear the voice of unworthiness behind the tears she recounted to us, the feeling of needing to excuse or justify or apologize for such an expense. I know that voice well. It's the voice that tells me I can go longer without journaling, that I don't NEED to write. It sets guilt at my feet when I leave my family on Monday nights to go to my drawing class. It's what justified budgeting more spending money for my husband than for myself for years. I can do fine with less, so I give myself less. In everything. 
Somehow I see my needs or wants as something to hit the snooze button on if something "more important" or at least more immediate presents itself. I can wait, I tell myself. Is this just my caretaking thing or does this speak into my experience as a woman? There's no doubt in my mind that we teach women to caretake both in our culture and in the church. We tell women to be less. Less emotional. Less vain. Less sexy (insert long rant about shaming women who wear leggings here!) Less catty. Less jealous. Less frivolous. Less talkative. Less expressive. Less needy. We want women to be quiet. Meek. Skinny. Small. I imagine men have their own struggles and certainly not everything is defined by gender. But do men really struggle with asking permission to be a person? Someone with real, vibrant needs that takes up space and has things to offer? I don't imagine that they do.  
Perhaps my editing tendency comes from being a big person by nature. I'm loud, sensitive, emotional and extremely relational. I talk a lot, interrupting people I truly care about. Ironically, I interrupt because what they say resonates with me and I can't help but chime in. In spite of my close friends knowing this about me, I have a real fear of being "too much."  That maybe I should just shut up. The more I go through counseling, the more I see how much I have edited myself. I thought I needed to be a lesser version of myself to fit into all the boxes I set up in my life. That my marriage couldn't work if I allowed my wandering spirit to roam. That my conservative church wasn't interested in what I had to say because I'm a woman. That my family couldn't function if I slowed down. How would shit get done if I didn't wear myself out? If I accepted my dirty floor? If I carved out room for myself to be big and small and everything in between, would I lose what matters most to me in the end? 
I've found myself unpacking a lot of boxes. Theological ones, personal ones, relational ones. I am not nearly done. I'm grateful because some of that is starting to take shape. I'm attending a church that I don't dare speak of yet (it's too sacred and personal, but I'll get there soon). I'm filled with wonder time and time again when my dear husband steps back to make more room for me every time I let a little more out of the box. I keep thinking he won't want to see or hear something and you know what? He does. Every. Single. Time. He blows my mind.  
Turns out, my hang ups are mine. Yes as I change, my long-standing relationships require some adjustment. But I've just got to stop asking permission to live my life. I am a woman. And the female experience is big. I am big. My life is big. And I have to believe that that's intentional. That my gifts and my self, repressed bits and not, are enough, good, valid and needed. That somewhere in the world is someone who benefits from me being me. And even if there isn't, I benefit from being me. And that's enough for now.