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    Not Enough Ache

            There is inside of me a constant ache. Maybe it’s in you too. It’s been there for as long as I can remember. It was there all through my childhood. It was there the first time I fell in love. It was there when I graduated high school, college, and graduate school. It is with me every moment. Even when I am at my most joyous, my happiest, my freest, I am aware that, deep within me, there is a pain that has not gone away.
            No matter what I do on the outside, this pain will be there. Because healing this wound is an inside job. Relieving this ache is up to nobody but me. Nothing on the outside can make it better or worse. Only I can. I’m really good at making it worse. I’m slowly learning how to make it better.
            Called by many names, such as inner demon or pain body, this ache appears complicated, a labyrinth of mental and emotional vines all twisted into one giant, gnarled tree. But despite it’s complex appearance in my mind’s eye, it boils down to a simple phrase: “I am not enough”.
            When I am in the throes of self-flagellation, if I stop and reflect for a moment, it’s easy to see that at the root of this destructive activity is the belief that “I’m not good enough”. What’s more difficult, however, is discovering the “I’m not good enough” that lies at the bottom of virtually every other pain. For example, if I’ve been hurt by something my lover said or did, there is what I’ll call a “genuine” pain, born out of the experience that somebody I love hurt me with words or deeds. But if I dig deeper, I will discover that underneath that, something else has been triggered: the “I’m not good enough” gun, which is always cocked and loaded.
            Taken together, the genuine pain and the “I’m not good enough” pain can feel daunting. But it’s the latter hurt that is by far the most problematic. A sincere “I’m sorry”, big, fat hug, and maybe some make-up sex can help remedy the genuine pain. But the “I’m not good enough” pain is different. It’s shame based. It’s deeper. It’s highly toxic. And now it’s running through my body and mind like radioactive blood.
            If I’m not aware that my shame of inadequacy has been set off, in other words, if I’m emotionally unconscious at the moment, then I will launch into my defense mode. And that’s when the trouble really starts. This is when I shut down, which is my default defense mechanism. But there are many others, and we all have our own favorites. We attack. We withdraw. We become passive aggressive. We punish. We undermine. We criticize. We withhold love or sex or attention. We intellectualize instead of feel. All very destructive and very painful. And all because we’re not aware that we don’t feel good enough. That we feel less than. A very old wound has been reopened yet again.
            So this ache I feel inside of me all the time can be triggered whenever I’m hurt, which can send me into defense mode, which can escalate the situation. At the same time, the person who hurt me can be triggered by my defense mechanism, and now they’re in their shameful place. Maybe they were there already. Maybe I was too. Like a giant powder keg of stored pain, ready to explode at the hint of a spark, “I’m not good enough”, also known as plain old insecurity, will blow things up very nicely. And often does.
            As much of an inside job as healing this old pain is, what can be a wonderful experience is if a couple is aware of this dynamic and wants to work on it together. One of my favorite sayings is “Being in an intimate relationship is like putting Miracle Grow on all of your character flaws”. Well there is no deeper, more daunting character flaw than the shame of “I’m not good enough”. A couple who can tackle this together, as long as they’ve done enough work on their own, can accelerate the healing of this wound and at the same time bring themselves closer to each other. That is the basis for a truly spiritual connection to a partner. Opening up this deepest of cuts to each other, being completely vulnerable, completely trusting oneself and one’s partner, committing to working at it together...probably scares the hell out of many of us. It does me. But it also excites me, because it’s what I want. I’ve never been ready for that. Until now.
            Until then, until I’m with the woman who will do this with me, I’m on my own. Not completely, because I can choose to operate in this open, vulnerable way with certain people in my life that I’m close to and trust. That will deepen the relationship and help us both grow. But always, the work is mine. The journey is mine. The ache I feel has to be healed by me.

    ©2009 Clint Piatelli. All Rights (and a good enough trunk of Wrongs) Reserved.

    Reader Comments (2)

    My not good enough, is "I don't deserve".

    February 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChloe

    Thank you Chloe. Yes, the "I don't deserve" is a "popular" one. How does "I don't deserve" manifest itself in your relationships? How does it show up in your choice of partners and in your behavior? And what can you do to help you feel as though you DO deserve?


    February 23, 2009 | Registered CommenterClint Piatelli

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