Who am I?
I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately because I’ve started to see cracks in the mask I’ve worn for as long as I can remember. Is the person behind the mask my true self or have I allowed others to paint my portrait for so long that I don’t recognize my own face?
This introspective process can be enlightening but it can also be an extremely harsh journey. I’ve chosen to view the pain as cracks in a shell essential for a new life to emerge. While the process may be painful the end result is a life in the light rather than cozy darkness.
The first promise I made myself when I decided to embark on this quest for discovery and healing was that I would be 100% honest with me. This proved harder than I’d imagined. I asked myself some very tough questions and I found that the first answers that sprang to my mind were not my own.
For example, a list of personality traits was placed in front of me. There were 49 traits in total. My task was to pick 10 that described me best. I went straight down the list and circled all I thought applied. I knew I’d have to make a couple of passes to narrow the list.
This is when the first crack in my shell appeared.
I began to wonder why I had circled a few of the words. I thought, I am not like this so why did I circle it? Then it dawned on me. It’s because I’d been labeled that way by someone else. The weighted opinions of others sang louder than my own.
I wondered when I had given up my voice?
I had been unknowingly giving these people ultimate power over me. It’s the kind of power no one should ever possess over another individual. It is the power to decide who and what we are and what matters most to us.
Then I began to ask myself some tougher questions. The toughest of all was whether or not I loved myself. The short answer was no. How could I? I had owned every label I had been given and deemed myself unlovable.
It’s taken me most of my adult life and years of therapy to come to terms with the fact that I am the victim of severe emotional abuse. I resisted the notion for a long time because I loathe the though of being the victim of anyone or anything. I was recently given the diagnosis of PTSD due to the trauma and that is a condition that cannot be ignored.
I was made to believe that I could never accomplish anything on my own. I simply wasn’t strong enough. I wasn’t pretty enough. I wasn’t smart enough. I was just never enough to matter.
For a long time I carried these hurtful words inside me. Those words defined who I was. I believe this is how I came to give others’ opinions of me greater influence than my own. I’ve been operating under the assumption for so that I’m not strong enough on my own to accomplish anything.
The truth is I am stronger than my abusers and it is the envy of that very strength that made me a target in the beginning.
It’s taken me awhile to accept this new view of things. If you’re a regular reader of mine you may have noticed my blog hasn’t been very active lately. It is because I’ve been struggling with the question of who I am. It’s a doozy and the answer can’t be found overnight.
I certainly don’t have all the answers but the ones I have managed to discover make me proud. My true self is still there. She is untarnished by years of relentless abuse. I am ready to meet her now. I am ready to shake off all the labels that were meant to keep me nailed to the floor.
I now know three things beyond a shadow of a doubt. I am ENOUGH (I always have been) and I am STRONGER than I ever believed possible. Most importantly I LOVE myself more every day because every day I find more of my true self to love.