November 2017

Holding On To Our Identity

The heading of this piece means so very much to me because we all need our own identity without it who are we? I guess it’s an imprint within me from my past where my identity was completely lost, to a point where I was just coursing through life a very lost soul. During that time it was a feeling that I excepted because if I had to question who I was I would be made to look at who I had become, and I really believed that I was invisible to the rest of the world so why would I point me out? As a child I had felt so completely worthless a nothing that nobody cared for because they just couldn’t see me. I remember all the times that I had been standing in front of an adult trying desperately for them to see me, for them to tell me that I mattered but my silence meant it would have been almost impossible. I just couldn’t tell them why I felt that way it was just far too dangerous and even then would they still not see me? Ultimately I was too afraid to try because I would not have been able to deal with the further emptiness.

So I went through my childhood a very rebellious soul at times acting out causing a scene creating disruption in the class room, because that meant they would have to see me which caused me no end of trouble and so many visits to the head of school to explain my bad behaviour. Even there waiting to receive my punishment it was better than just fading away into the nothingness, I was receiving recognition I had my identity although it was in a manner that was less than ideal to say the least. Standing alone there as a child I so wanted someone anyone just to say my name even in anger because even that was better than being nobody.

So what does it mean this having our own identity? In truth it means everything we all need to know who we are to be able to find a place that is right for us. This is true of everything that affects our lives from where we choose to work our relationships or where it suits us to live, to the friends that enter our hearts because they mean something to us they just fit in with our identity. If we don’t have our own identity how do we know those most fundamental parts of our being or create structure in our lives, and equally chose those that we can relate to or wish to share portions of our life with. Everything becomes difficult as we spend our time second guessing as to whom we are and if we are complete. We can’t do any of those things without our identity it’s just not possible when we are fundamentally missing.

During our life time as we try to heal we will come up against this identity crisis so often and as a result of that feeling we are on constant alert, we create battlements all around us digging out the moats just waiting for that invasion to arrive. Constantly checking if our identity in which we are trying so hard to build is in danger of once more being overthrown. Depending on the situation our reaction can go from being a mild stir within us to a full blown earthquake, so our reaction is governed in just how much we feel we need to react to this war declared upon us. During my life I have been in this situation so many times that it’s just too hard to remember how many, but I know that as time passes I am learning to deal with this military stance a little better.

Of course that doesn’t mean it’s left me completely and it rears its head on occasion when that feeling of losing my identity creeps up on me completely unnoticed, until I’m in too deep to find the control needed to recognise my old pattern. It’s so very hard to explain just how frightening this feeling can be its like your world is in danger of being pulled out from under you, that you are being chased by an army of emotions that are running riot in your head.

You hear these words over and over in your head without any construction whatsoever – who are you? Where do you fit? Your thoughts and feelings don’t matter! Just accept that your choices aren’t good ones and others need to make them for you. Right pay attention! You need to take control over this situation because you are about to be lost all over again! That person without needs to make your decisions for you because you’re just not capable! You will once again have no control or identity because being controlled is just one step behind you so you better head for the battlefield and in a hurry! And they are but a few.

Once this descending army has been halted you stand there in the aftermath that has been created on the battlefield realising just what that section of time has cost you? Whilst feeling that it was your only course of action we then have to find a way back from the insane journey of conflict that we have just taken; the problem is whilst within that situation all you were able to do was defend yourself with everything you had with your own army at your disposal, because going back there again would finish you completely and the battle would be forever lost.

Maybe in time these skirmishes can be undone but equally it could be a war wound that will forever leave a scar. We can only deal with the situation at that time because it’s completely without rehearsal just how do you rehearse the feeling of losing your identity? Finding yourself was such a long journey and quite a fight to have been in, and the truth behind this overwhelming emotion is that we have become so overly protective of the identity we had craved for. I’m sure my words will resonate with many of you out there that have found yourselves in this situation, and I’m sure we will do so again because this finding yourself and believing in yourself whilst trying to establish your identity is something that we rightly hold dear.

In time maybe I or we will find ourselves in a different place with a learning that no one can take from us what we consciously refuse to give, I hope that in time I will arrive in such a place but I have to admit that journey to completion as yet eludes me. We need to understand that someone else can’t make us feel that our identity is in jeopardy and that we can hold on to it whatever comes along but that’s a learning I’m afraid that is solely down to us. No one can invade a defended position once we reach it and really believe that we do by finding the peace within to put the big guns down.

Its then that we realise that we are no longer children truly believing that we now can use our new found identity to its true worth, but also except that if those choices involve another person all of these choices cannot and shouldn’t be all of our own even when it’s a difficult balance. Even after recognising this we will still unfortunately make mistakes because that a human trait and part of life. But just recognise that others can’t see or understand the panic within us and they are left believing that our reaction was completely over the top. They just can’t see this vacuum of torrid emotions racing through our minds during that time how could they? Unfortunately I don’t have all of the answers but in the here and now I am grateful to at least be able to recognise the question. If you find the strength to leave the confinements of that deep dugout you will see in truth that your identity is now yours you just had to connect with it.

It’s then that we see that a ceasefire has at last been reached………..