I have a friend who sees my work with children and teases me that I will end up in school again one day soon for another Master’s - this time in Clinical Social Work or some such therapeutic field. I am always interested in the how and why of human behavior. All year he’s been saying this to me, and I’ve been adamantly saying no. Here’s why.
It’s not that I don’t love to dissect human behavior. It’s not that I don’t love to continue learning. It’s not that I’m opposed to other people’s decisions to go back to school.
The short of it is that at this time in my life, going back to school for another degree, another certification, another this or that, would support the perpetuation of a lifelong struggle to prove myself adequate. To prove myself enough. And I'm pretty done with that right now.
I learn every single day, let’s be clear. I have books and podcasts going constantly. I listen as I drive, as I cook. One day, far from now, might I like to study Jung deeply? Yes. But for now, I get a strong dose of Marion Woodman by choice and documentary. I watch Gaia physics films when I’m "relaxing." I love learning.
I simply won’t subscribe, currently, to the reasons that most people are in school. We live in a system that innately perpetuates feelings of inadequacy. We start in school from a very young age, are told not to trust our instincts, and are told what to think. Then, other people assess us on how we communicate back to them that thinking. And, before you know it, little ones be like: I lost my power.
The answer, really, starts long ago. I lost my power long ago. Reasons abound.
But when I was pregnant at 18, and it was decided that I would surrender my daughter for adoption, a deep, deep sense of inadequacy took up residence in me. I believed I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t old enough to raise her, I wasn’t wealthy enough, I didn’t know enough. These were things both communicated to me on adoption's behalf, and they were beliefs I allowed myself to have. Because, after all, I was eighteen and living in my parents’ basement after having to leave my first semester of college.
But I left at the end of the semester, finishing the credits and puking in the dorm toilets through my first trimester of pregnancy. I went to school for six credits close to my parents’ home while pregnant. She was born at the end of July, and two weeks later, I was in classes in the third college within a year. Because, you know, I had to go make something of myself.
Let me pause here to say - no fault is at play here. I’m writing a book about the complexities of this scenario - because it’s going to take the length of a book to explain them. My mother, in pushing me to go to school, was doing the thing she thought was best. It’s the thing we all think is best. It's why, if you're good at something or have inquiry in it, the next "logical" step is more schooling, for many people.
But what I developed in all of that was that deep sense of inadequacy. I got a few college degrees (3) over the next ten years. I still couldn’t ever figure out how to save money or feel like I had enough, for a long, long time. I had gotten married, had another child, gotten the degrees, gotten the job, and holy shit, the insides of me still didn’t feel whole.
Because we don’t feel whole by filling ourselves up - with degrees, with food, with stuff, with booze, with a house or money, even with another person’s love, even with religion! We can not fill ourselves up if we are feeling empty with anything at all except our own self-love. (I go all bold with y’all when I really mean it.)
Some days, and this happened yesterday, I find myself surprised by the presence of inadequacy still. It creeps in like a little bitch.
I run a business for women’s resiliency, damn it. I’m hardy. You don’t give your child away, have an ACE score of 4, decide not to become addicted to alcohol, raise a fantastic son with the level of intention I’ve brought from the beginning, and be a damn school administrator without resiliency. When I told my partner, meeting me at age 35, that I was the black sheep, that I was always a perceived failure, his eyes popped and asked, “....how the hell….?” Yeah. I was overcompensating for a long time.
But yesterday, up and out it came. And because I go through rather than around, I sat with it. I danced with it. I cried with it. I was tender with it.
It was directly linked to my daughter’s adoption. It was like the roots of inadequacy, buried long ago, were ready to surface. This is the beauty of life - we go through what we can handle. And that's true of the healing as well.
This time, I was affected by the inadequacy differently. I recognized it, but I was not triggered. I was not convinced or held captive in its grasp. Instead, I examined it. I felt all the feels. This time, I sat as if with that 18 year old self, and I imagined all the things I’d tell her if I could go back. This time, I allowed the old memory to be present, but it didn’t have a hold on me.
There was a reverence. A care. We all hold ourselves up in various, exhausting ways. We keep going. We are resilient, most of us, by nature.
I am adequate. I am enough. I am more and more whole all the time.
I don’t need another degree to know that, and I don’t need another degree to help others to realize that within themselves.
I'm sharing today to say that, yes, the hard stuff still happens. I don't work as a coach because I've bypassed all the hardship. I work as a coach because I know how to sit with the hard stuff, I am familiar with the act of leaning into the lessons presented to us, and I know the celebration in the release and subsequent rise.
Coaching for women’s resiliency is not about going back, like a therapist, and examining each and every reason why we live our lives the way we do. It’s about leaning in, honoring the cycles of our lives, the emotions that arise, and our deeply innate nature as women to both intuit what is right for us, meanwhile carrying on. My resiliency coaching honors it all - past, present, future. It honors the women we were and where we want to be. It honors that we have sometimes stuffed our emotions, which has lead to our dissatisfaction, and it also honors that we need to use our emotions to be appropriately guided where we want to go.
I want every woman, every age, to know what is best for her, and to have the courage to say it.
May we lose no more power to perceptions of inadequacy.
(Written Nov 2017)