I remember the day that realized that I was no longer attached to my former identity. My former identity is the identity that was given to me by my family and almost every significant relationship I ever had since a very young age with the exception of a few special girlfriends and maybe a couple of adults along the way. It was how I had come to think of myself, how much guilt and shame that I carried for things that had happened to me and the way that I believed I was not loveable, that I was not good enough and that something about me was just “wrong”. That identity no longer resonated with me. I knew that I was no longer who they said I was. My identity crisis was over, I thought. I was certain that the little voice in my head would go away now. That little voice that whispered every time I accomplished anything; “who the hell do you think YOU are?? Everyone knows you are nothing, everyone knows that you are an imposter and anyone who doesn’t will soon find out”. I was certain that voice would shut up now and that I would never have an imposter issue again! (Unfortunately this was not the end of that issue, but let’s save that for another blog post later on)
I remember that the exact moment I realized that I was no longer who they said I was; that I was no longer defined by them. I felt euphoric and immediately empty. I felt like I had reached a goal, but something was missing. I felt amazing and terrified. I felt free and blank all at the same time. Full of real fear I questioned my therapist; “well if none of that is who I am, then who am I?” It felt scary, dangerous, foreign, lonely and somehow clean, all at the same time.
Prior to this day, in my mind’s eye regarding the process of recovery from all my depressions and dissociative identity etc, I had visions of huge construction equipment digging up buildings, rotten foundations and roots that were miles deep. At first clearing this wreckage ~ what my life had become ~ seemed overwhelming. I didn’t think I could do it, there was so much debris to deal with and the mess went so deep. Sometimes I even pictured huge floodlights so the work could also be done in the dark, as though there was no rest from it. It seemed to go on and on, the things I found in the digging were sometimes shocking, sometimes frightening, and sometimes so enlightening it was like finding diamonds! Most of the time the shocking and frightening stuff eventually was so enlightening that it was like finding treasure too. I found the truth! It was exhausting but somehow I kept going.
Now, on this new day in my mind’s eye I pictured a huge area of land that has been cleared of all trees, structures, garbage, weeds and rubble The land was all smoothed and prepared and the huge construction equipment had been taken away. This new foundation was ready and waiting for me to rebuild on it. I felt shaky at first, as though like a baby, my legs were still wobbly. I was curious about who I would find on this new leg of the journey to discover the real me. Would I recognize myself, and even more frightening, would I like myself? There was still that little voice inside, asking “what if they were right about me”? What if the people that had defined me all my life were right about me after all”? What if I can’t do me? What if no one likes the real me? What am I going to find out next?
Feeling blank has many fears.
The following months were in many ways no less complicated than the prior months in therapy, they were just different. I had to learn how to live in my new belief system, and sometimes it was uncomfortable. I tried new things, and almost everything I did felt like I was doing it for the first time, because I had changed all those old beliefs and I was not the same person anymore. Sometimes I wanted to run back to the old life! At least it was familiar and even comfortable there. At least I knew how to function there.
As I got to know myself, my happiness increased. I felt free, alive, brilliant, strong, dynamic and reborn. I began to feel comfortable; like I was really alright, and in fact I was “right with myself”. I felt like I finally knew what it means to feel like I was who I was meant to be. I was able to impact others in ways that I never did before. I started to feel purposeful and fulfilled. Today I continue to become more and more comfortable in my own skin, more alive, more able to live life fully and to flourish and thrive. I become more “ME” with each passing day and I love who I am!
Please share your own stories, feelings, fears and victories as we travel this road and celebrate our discoveries.