Who Am I? This is a huge question that is difficult to answer because during any life, we find ourselves playing many different roles – one at a time or all at once. So the question of how I identify myself requires consideration, self-compassion and a willingness to hold my identities loosely.
My therapist makes lots of suggestions for me to consider but his one gave me pause – “Can you imagine identifying yourself from within rather than by something outside of yourself, like a job?” At that moment, my answer was “No” but I could see her point, sort of, maybe. I had just lost a job that really mattered to me and my grief was profound. The loss had nothing to do with me as a person or whether I was liked and respected and everything to do about necessary structural changes, but all I could feel was despair and that everything that identified me and my worth as a human being was being ripped away.
I’ve had many identities in my life – daughter, sister, student, wife, divorcé, grandmother, woman in recovery and life partner. I’m just now realizing, however, that I should add some more: wounded child; strong and resilient woman; multi-faceted, multi-skilled and talented individual. If I am able to embrace all of these different parts that are me – even the wounded parts, the old lingering ghosts – could I then have an unshakeable and authentic identity while everything changes around me? I think this is possible and I’m feeling filled with a clear vision of a real inner identity. I can’t wait to tell my therapist that I finally got it and that I finally understand her suggestion!
Everything changes in a lifetime and to have an authentic and self-loving identity that isn’t tied to the vicissitudes of time is possible and I’m filled with joy to be experiencing this realization right now and I’m going to go look in the nearest mirror and smile at what I see.
I wrote about emotional sobriety recently and over the last several weeks, and even now, as I’m writing, I feel a shift and a deepened understanding of what this means. I’m going to pat myself on the back now and say, “Good job, Megan!”
“Often, it’s not about becoming a new person, but becoming the person you were meant to be, and already are, but don’t know how to be.”
~ Heath L. Buckmaster