A powerful memoir that confronts the scars of sexual abuse, familial separation, and mental illness as the author emerges into motherhood.
Content warning: bipolar disorder, rape, relationship abuse, substance abuse, suicidal ideation.
The word “enough,” when attached to certain situations, can leave one feeling either unfulfilled or perfectly content. In the span of one person’s journey, “not [fill in the blank] enough” can transfigure itself over time and lots of introspective work into “I am enough.” In her eponymous memoir, Enough, Amelia Zachry shows us the full spectrum of what this one word can contain within us and what it can leave behind.
The book’s subtitle is apt—Amelia breaks down each chapter of her life into three parts. “Mistakes” pertains to her youthful pursuit of heavy drinking and partying in college, leading up to the night she was raped by a colleague who used his reputation to sully her name and ostracize her from campus. From “Mistakes” buds “Mania,” a slew of chapters dedicated to Amelia’s crests and falls in the aftermath of her assault, and when she gets diagnosed with bipolar disorder. And from “Mania” blooms “Motherhood,” an exploration of the tenuous relationship Amelia has with bipolar and her desire to raise children with her (loveable, wonderful!) husband.
Enough takes on quite a lot, from familial separation at an impressionable young age to falling in love after a series of abusive relationships. Not to mention the incredible settings that Amelia’s writing brings to life: the cosmopolitan Kuala Lumpur, the industrial hub of Nagoya, and the complicated charm of the American South. I was first and foremost drawn to Amelia as a fellow mixed-race person who also experienced traumatic relationship abuse in the past. I cannot express enough (no pun intended) how essential Amelia’s story is for folks experiencing bipolar disorder and/or PTSD from sexual assault and relationship abuse. There are so few stories written by the ones who make it to motherhood and beyond. Many of us are afraid to make that decision to bring children into a world that has wounded us. Amelia’s story recognizes that we shouldn’t be seeking the model minority of a bipolar or sexual assault success story to tell us how to survive and carry on. She shows us the ugly and the beautiful sides of her world as well as her persistence to not let the past and her mental illness define her and her family today.
Amelia’s story embodies the nuances of life at large and reminds us that “enough” can mean so much more. We learn from Enough that, despite our scars, our existence is just the beginning of how we can define ourselves, replant our roots, and flourish.
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