The path isn’t always a straight line; it’s a spiral. You continually come back to things you thought you understood and see deeper truths.
—Barry H. Gillespie
Who are you? What makes up your identity?
My belief is your identity gets wrapped up in things and people you interact with.
I can tell you that for the longest time I identified as this young, successful private practice therapist, wife, dog mom, who was flexible, selfless, aware, and confident.
I had worked my ass off to make this identify strong.
My body was a machine for living life in a way that was defined based on how others saw me. I wanted everyone to see me as this massive go-getter, strong, take no shit kind of gal.
But, last week, I hit rock bottom. I got news that Rainey has 3-6 months to live. You know she has been working with me every day for the last 10 years in my therapy practice? She has impacted more lives than most humans ever will….and she’s my baby. It seems like everything I moved across the country for has now died or fizzled out in some way. Relationships, career goals, putting Sweet Bear down in February, having to pick up a bartending gig to get myself out of the house and around people, loss of expectation, and now Rainey. It’s a lot.
And yes, this means there is wide open opportunity and I am so blessed to have a career where I can go and be wherever I want. But, the things I put so much work into creating identity of myself by are not as they once were. Soooo, who am I?
My ah ha moment came when I realized that those very things that you lose, are the things that are here to teach you. THOSE TEACHING MOMENTS ARE WHAT ACTUALLY DEFINE YOU! They teach you who you are, but also who you are not. You don’t really know your strengths until you have to be strong….and in moments of struggle or challenge being strong is the only choice you have.
Adult tantruming moment is that during this year, I didn’t want to be strong at times. I wanted to complain, be stagnant, play the victim card of “it’s not fair”. Can you relate? I mean, it’s so exhausting and draining at times.
Now this may not be obvious for some…BUT, we don’t always stay the same person; we change. We shed parts of our old selves, and embrace new ones. We redefine who we are and the different identities we present to the world.
Things will continue to show up in your life: like me, literally having one rug pulled out from under me after another for an entire year…because we don’t get the choice in life to be the same; we MUST change. And until you decide to own up; shit will keep hitting the fan over and over and over!
The only choice you have in the matter is to let go of who you thought you were and trust in life; in order to find that next version of you. The better one. The more authentic one. The more honest one. The more respectful, generous, compassionate one.
I’ve held on for far too long to these identities that I put so much time into making look a certain way to the rest of the world. Through all this loss I’ve become more compassionate, patient, understanding, grateful, and humbled…definitely humbled! It’s all shaped me. I thought I knew everything. I thought I knew exactly who I was; but that was further from the truth. I thought I had it all together….I’ve found out I don’t. And that’s okay.
Everything in life cycles; you must let things die, go away, or leave you before you can rebuild and revive a more aware and powerful foundation. You have to surrender to the idea of letting go of a part of something familiar and safe, in order to learn and grow.
Each fall. Each loss. Each change provides you with an identity marker that decorates your body and allows you to grow into that best version of you. You just have to be willing to take responsibility for how you’re showing up in the world.
I am slowly loosening my grip. I am no longer holding on to who I know myself to be. I am letting go, so that I can experience who I can be. Will you join me?