when you aren't good enough

It's the story of your life - you try and try again, but you never quite get it right. That presentation you gave, the one where you stayed up half the night practicing, and still managed to be tongue-tied. That conversation you tried to have with your child, shaping your love into words of compassion and concern, only it turned into an argument. That burned casserole. That mistake you never, ever, tell anyone about.

You look at other women around you who seem poised and competent, and although you know they doubtless have their own struggles, you don't see what's going on beneath their surface - wakeful nights, stomach-aching worries - whereas you live always within the depths of your own struggles. It can be hard to get perspective. (I have a friend whose house is a mess. So is mine. But hers is a glorious mess, a luxurious expression of the vigour and fun being had in her home, whereas mine is just a shambles.)

Besides, if other women struggle, that may comfortingly normalise your feelings, but doesn't really stop them, does it? Just because she is failing in her reach doesn't mean you don't hurt when you fail in yours. When you make a black stain of ink or tears in the middle of your narrative. When you are wrong.

The thing is though, you've misunderstood from the very start. This is not the story of your life. Because your life isn't a story. Your experience isn't leading to a goal, a resolution, a wonderful punchline. It isn't even a tangle to be gently unwoven so the jewel of meaning within can be found. Mostly, its just stuff happening.

Sometimes you'll manage the stuff badly, but that does not define you. Tell me, as you read this post, what is the sound inside your heart? What are you wishing to be, deep within yourself? I believe that wish is who you are. The rest of it - the slammed door, or the sarcastic comment to someone who didn't really deserve it, or the embarrassing speech at your mother's birthday party - is all just words and skin, hunger and fear, the pressures of the world, the sorrows of the heart, stuff that happened.

You are not on a journey to selfhood. You are here, now, and in your soul you have a ground of perfection which is your divine heritage. (When I write about how we are all wandering around in the countryside of our existence, I don't mean it as a journey, only as a way of being within our lives and selves.) The things you do are layering upon the ground of you. Some of those things will stick, and some you will shake away (or scrape away over years of determined courage and self-compassion.) Some may scar you forever, and you have to find a new way of moving to accomodate the aching tug of the mangled skin. Others may deepen your heart and your smile with a wisdom that will bless others just by seeing it. None of them will represent you in your wholeness. And none of them is the end of any story about your soul.

Always, in every moment, you are a beginning.

I should mention that I believe strongly in the beautiful power of narrative healing. I have used it for years and think there is really nothing more inspiring or transformative. Infact, there is a story in The Coracle Sky, A Womanful of Bones, which was created from the concept of the mythic healing journey. But that's different from what this world full of stories ... movies, novels, songs, competitive sports pathways, learning outlines ... conditions us to believe about our every experience leading towards character transformation, mastery, and resolution.


  1. This is so very beautiful, Sarah. How I relate to the first paragraph... especially now that I am living in a country where I am not yet fluent in the language. Every interaction on the street or in shops is an opportunity to put my growing skills to the test, but if I had a euro for everytime I've frozen completely and forgotten my entire French vocabulary.... or pronounced words incorrectly... or my accent wasn't understood.... while countless Parisiennes around me speak elegantly and fluidly with ease.

    Thank you for writing this. <3 xo

  2. Mmmm, a resonating yes, and something just out of the corner of my eye, indicating something like, a "but wait". Tooo elusive, too luminous to handle with words. Thank you for, this inquiry,

  3. Well, I just love everything about this. Xoxo

  4. This was balm on my worried soul. Not only the meaning of the words, but also the gentle soul behind it is present and soothing. Thank you, I really needed this.

  5. well, hmmm.... I will throw the spanner in the works and disagree, I regret those moments when I could have been kinder & am so old with so little time left that every day & everything I say and think does matter & deeply

    1. I'm not saying don't regret your mistakes or want to learn from them and do better if you can next time. I'm saying forgive yourself. And I honestly personally don't believe everything you say and think matters deeply. I'm quite against that idea. But each to their own :-) I hope you are graced with more time than you could ever imagine, and more kindness than you could ever contrive. :-)

  6. Thank you everyone for commenting, I am very grateful :-)

  7. We do not grow without mistakes. We have these challenges that we face, either gracefully or not, and afterward it changes us. Even in small ways. But I don't regret everything I said at a time I shouldn't have...it happened, so now what? Now what do I do with it? I can choose to apologize, ask for a do-over...or not. I liked this very much.