I have spent most of my life always trying to be good enough. I never even really know who I am trying to be good enough for. Myself? My Wife? My Boss? I don’t know that I will ever know that question or that it is even that important.
As a kid growing up in a very poor (financially, emotionally, physically) environment I was always trying to be good enough for someone to notice me. You see I was raised with 6 brothers and sisters, 3 of each, and I was smack in the middle. I had three abusive older siblings that I tried to not get noticed by or it never turned out well. Even my parents were not very helpful in this category. I was always a huge disappointment to them or a huge regret, not quite sure which one yet. Either way I know where I was not wanted. I have resigned myself to that fact along time ago.
I can remember never wanting to ask for help because there was always a consequence in doing that. I have taught myself almost everything that I can think of growing up. I taught myself to swim, ride a bike, run really really fast, play every sport and be good enough that I can hang with most crowds. I also taught myself to build things, fix things, and also to cook.
I can actually remember that in second grade I took a loaf of turtle bread (a loaf of bread shaped like a turtle) that I had made to school to share with my class. It was just one of those things that if I wanted to eat I had to figure out how to do it myself.
In school, I was supposed to be very smart and to be honest I was but I was also very bored. So I hardly went. I passed all my classes and did well but I missed a ton of school. I would always get called into the office about it and be told I am not doing good enough and I can do better. I knew I could but who was I trying to be good enough for at that moment. My teachers? They could hardly care less. Parents? laughable. Family? No one liked or cared about me.
I know you think I am exaggerating and I am a little because I can think of two relatives that actually seemed interested in my well-being and made strides to help me without me ever asking. However, in a family of my size (my parents all came from huge families so lots of aunts uncles and cousins) only having two was pretty hard. And I did not get to see them much. When I graduated I did not have one relative tell me they were going to come to my graduation. My older siblings had 20 or 30 relatives at theirs but none of them wanted to attend mine. So I didn’t even go. I told them that I would not go through the ceremony and I would just pick up my diploma later.
I have probable painted this rebellious person who is pitted against the world. While it felt that way at times it was definitely not the case. I stayed out of trouble (other than attendance) in school, I avoided home so there would not be trouble there (and they never missed me anyways), I went out of my way to help others so no one would feel like I did. I did not drink, smoke, steal things, even though my siblings did all those things. I was too smart and never wanted anything to do with those things. I never minded being the designated driver or help clean up at parties. I was the nice guy no one ever really noticed. It is actually rather interesting how invisible you can make yourself while still being in plain sight.
I was shy until you got to know me and if I felt like you were a friend I was fiercely protective. For example, one of the guys I played soccer with on the HS team was being bullied by a kid who was part of a wannabe gang. I rode the bus home and walked him home everyday for two months because they would not mess with him if I was around. I would show up for the last few hours of school just to ride the bus. Eventually I told him this had to stop. He had to stand up for himself. I told him that when he did I would keep all the other members of his “posse” out of it. I said even if you lose at least they would leave you alone after that. So the next day one the walk to his house after getting off the bus and the kids were following us he turned around and told them to leave him alone. The kid said something stupid and my friend just reared back and punched him in the face. The kid was so stunned he did not have time to react before my friend was on him, had him on the ground in a headlock and was beating his face in. Finally a guy driving by broke up the fight. He felt so good about it. I thought it was all over so I did not walk him home the next day but the kid, obviously out to redeem himself, jumped him and my friend did not fair so well. I took care of that kid later, without violence, but he got much harsher treatment than if we had just fought.
Even now I look out for anyone in need of help and I will always lend a hand because I want to be good enough. I just don’t know for who or what. I cannot decide if it is for me or someone/thing else. I just know I want to be good enough, I want to know that at some point I will make it. I want to know I will be good enough or I want to know there is no such thing so I can stop trying.
So I can do all these things and I am still the same now. If I need something fixed, built, made, I would rather do it myself rather than have someone else do it. I don’t want to be looked at as incapable. I want to be good enough that I should be able to do it myself and not need help. Stubborn, I know. But it is who I am.
Right now I am trying to be good enough for my wife because I have not been that for her. I have made our current relationship difficult and am trying to rebuild what we had and build what we want. I want to be good enough for her. We have had a rocky year and while it did not start exactly a year ago, last September and October were two of the worst months we have ever had. So now I am looking to figure out how to fix and rebuild what has been destroyed. This is no easy task. And I will never know if I am ever good enough, but for her I will keep trying to be.