Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Identity

This morning I spoke with the very close friend I referred to in yesterday's post. We'll call him D (because he's the one who first called me 'T' and as opposed to De who is my best-friend-sista-girl-fellow-yogi).

D and I talk every week when I attend his A Course in Miracles study group on Monday nights. The past few weeks I have been unable to attend his study group due to the lack of a reliable babysitter. So, on the weeks I don't attend, we usually call each other and chat to check in and give love. Its just what we do.

He has been very supportive and very insightful (as usual) about this post-mortem mourning process following the draining R&R weekend with Soldier. Today was no exception.

I told him how I felt like I was in withdrawal, breaking the habits of:
  • carrying my cell phone around with me all the time (Soldier was pathetic if he called and I missed him)
  • checking email constantly
  • always on alert to the news from Iraq
  • always looking for cards to send
  • constantly searching for items to add to care packages
  • taking note of funny or sexy things in my life to share during our phone calls (he was ever-enthralled at the normal things we take for granted here in the U.S.)

I feel as if I was on high alert all year!

Not a day or moment went by that I didn't think of Soldier in some way. How exhausting! When there was a moment when I realized I wasn't thinking of him, I felt so free. I'm only realizing this now.

"Its not just the habits," D pointed out to me, "Its identity. For a year you identified yourself as a soldier's girl."

A Soldier's Girl.

Wow. He's absolutely right. That is how I identified myself.

"That's ok," he continued, "Because now you know what your real identity is."

It reminded me of another post I wrote while packing up my previous home. In that post, I referred to myself as:

"...a hermit crab, as a therapist once told me, leaving one shell and off to find another one. In the meantime, in the chrysalis or in suffering the loss of one shell, I will be vulnerable."

I am shaking off the shell of a year long identity.

Of course it feels weird. Of course I feel raw. Perhaps it was presumptuous for me to identify myself as that at all. What was wrong with simply being 'T'?

Don't we all identify ourselves as something? Americans (with an exciting new leader!), Texans, Husband, Wife, Single Parent, Mommy, Sister, Daughter, Friend, The Ex's ex?? How closely are we holding on to that identity and how comfortable will we be should we have to let it go?

That is why we feel such pain at the end of a relationship, no matter what sort of relationship it is. When the form of the relationship changes, as it will do, we feel like we lose a little bit of ourselves.

That identity is not who we really are but a dynamic mask that we wear, temporary and often-demanding.

We should be grateful for the masks and the losing of such. For it is through the cracks in the broken masks that we begin to see who we really are.

In January, I poetically wrote about how I let others define me instead of listening to my own inner voice.

I do know better. I knew better in the beginning of this thing and perhaps that is why I feel that I'm recovering well. We will still be in each others' lives, Soldier and I, but the form of our relationship is changing. And that's ok.

"The only way is up," I said in closing to D, "After all, in order to bounce we have to hit bottom sometimes."

12 comments:

  1. I believe that you have a good handle on how you are viewing all you have gone through, which is quite an awful lot.

    Shaking off the way others define us is hard but by doing it we get to look hard at how we want to move forward and you are doing a great job...at least I think you are. You are a great inspiration, I agree with your friend, you do know what your real identity is and I have to add that you are not afraid to show it. That makes you one hell of a unique woman.....

    Keeping you in my thoughts....

    asw

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh man this post hit home with me!!

    I went through this with Mr Heartbreaker - for so long I was defined in terms of who I was to him!

    I actually said to him one day "I dont know how to be me WITHOUT you"

    Now though, despite his best attempts to try and see m - I dont know how to be me WITH him anymore!

    All I know is how to be me!

    I actually may write about this too!!

    You really do seem to be handling this so well T!!!! I am proud!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am sorry about the babysitting. I hope the kids are doing well! I hope that you are doing well and it sounds like your are getting better each day. Love you and miss you!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh, wow, this really speaks to me. After 8 years of an emotionally abusive marriage, I, too, feel like I've been living on High Alert. Great way to describe it. Definitely part of this codependency thing - bending over backwards to do everything possible to please that other person. It's so hard to break those patterns. Good for you!

    ReplyDelete
  5. This resonates with me too. I've had some really positive chats lately about being happy with who you are rather than finding happiness in others. The common train of thought seems to be, that those who manage that, then too find happiness in others. A win-win situation me thinks.

    Take care.

    ReplyDelete
  6. It's so scary how easily we pick up those shells and begin to take them on as our identities.

    Now................ are you reading The Women Who Run With The Wolves yet?

    It certainly goes into this.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is a thought-provoking post, T. And you're right, we all identify ourselves in some way. And some days, when I have the realization that I'm just QT, it feels damn good. *hugs*

    ReplyDelete
  8. Isn't it funny how we can cling so tightly to labels and names and categories, when those things aren't who we really are? Good for you for recognizing that, and being aware of letting go. Now, rather than feeling raw, embrace the rawness, be with it, don't label or judge. Just be.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Cool introspections. An excellent read.

    I did a blog on iHeart not too long ago about the hats we wear. It's amazing to me how different my different personalities are in different roles. I mean, they're similar in many ways but in some key aspects I'm so much different when I'm Dad as opposed to Coach or CyberScott or the other various hats.

    I like how you link among your blogs and other sources. That's something I oughtta include more of in my blogging. Cool.

    Scott from iHeart

    ReplyDelete
  10. Well said, T! Like the others above, I can identify with what you've written about having spent too long time letting others (or a situation or a label) identify me. But what struck a chord with me was your last line. I, too, have discovered the relief and joy knowing I have the ability to bounce back -- and higher and stronger than the time before. You're on your way up and on to your next journey. Enjoy the ride!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have just started reading your blog and truly enjoy the posts I have read. i love the line about the hermit crab "leaving one shell and off to find another one. In the meantime, in the chrysalis or in suffering the loss of one shell, I will be vulnerable."

    Perhaps, you don't need to find another shell. Shouldn't your identity travel with you wherever you go? Altered by it's environment, but yours regardless?

    Your mask analogy touches on this. But why does it need to be said in a negative light--as if without a mask we are less?

    ReplyDelete
  12. Is there a way to define ourselves without labels? Hm...

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for leaving me some comment love!