Friday, January 13, 2012

Your Relationships are not Your Identity

This is where we get stuck, and it starts to happen early on. We think (are taught) our core identities are wrapped up in our relationship to others.

A lot of us walk around spouting new age-y type stuff when it comes to externals of the material kind.  You know, we talk about how happiness does not come from outside ourselves.  We mean that it does not come from possessions.

Because a whole lot of us are living our day to day lives as if our happiness does come from outside of us -- from how we are intertwined with other people.  A lot of bitterness can then ensue when we don't get what we need from the other people to whom we give so much. (Hear that in a diva voice.)

For women, especially, we think these identities are noble. Women, especially, are taught that identity comes from other.

You know: mother, daughter, sister, friend, wife, partner.

But those are roles we play (gladly and with love); roles we play are not the same as our identity.

And when you are doing nothing with your time but moving from role to role and never giving a moment to your core identity, you end up, well, exhausted.  All the time.  Dragging.

If you are lucky, from time to time you get mad about it, which makes you think.

But then another role usually calls and you are off and running and the thinking stops again because someone says "thank you" at just the right moment to make you feel good.

This cycle goes on and on and can actually just be your whole damn life. 

Role playing. Exhaustion. Anger. A life sustaining morsel of goodness thrown your way. Start back at role playing. Repeat. Over and over. Times infinity.

You are right now thinking, If I am not my roles, then what the hell is this identity of which you are speaking?

Your identity has to do with the lost girl I wrote about here.

Your identity has to do with the passion that was inserted into your heart, the passion with which you were born.

Your identity precedes all role playing.

Living a life denying this essential self, this True Identity, is a little like being Super(wo)man and not knowing it, so you carry around kryptonite in your pocket, thinking it is just a pretty stone.

(Excuse the Geek explosion right there. And I couldn't think of a female super hero who has such a great metaphorical weakness.)

An Example Story because Stories are Helpful

I am lucky. I had a definitive moment. Now definitive moments are never just definitive moments; they are cumulative moments. Years of small and big and seemingly inconsequential moments all moving toward a moment when, if you are lucky, you are paying attention and so it seems like The Definitive Moment.

I've written about it before, so I will shorthand.

I went to a friend's wedding. I danced for the first time in many years. My partner noticed I was happy in a soul shining way, something she had never seen in our many years together.

She sat me down and told me so. I listened.

In that moment, I knew my identity, and I grabbed it and have not let go.

I am Dancer. (And I like the German grammatical construction there.  No "I am A dancer." I am Dancer.)

This Dancer identity does not in any way, regardless of what you may be thinking, reside anywhere but deep inside of me.  It does not rely on anything outside of me.

No matter what, I would dance.

No matter what, I would dance. 

No matter what, I would dance.

See that?

I do not need other people around me telling me I am dancer.  I do not need a studio. I do not need students.

I wake up every day and I know this one, core, true, shining thing about myself.

And it makes all the difference in the world.

How, you ask?

I am happy. (Nothing short of a miracle, considering a life of chronic, debilitating depression, anxiety, body image issues, disordered eating...)

This happiness relies on no one but me.

I have wells of energy that I never knew possible because of this happiness that is the sort of happiness of which great spiritual minds speak.

This core identity motivates every single aspect of  my life.

It also motivates my relationships.

It makes me better in relationships.

It allows me to give to others without needing anything in return.

Because I am Whole All by Myself. (Note: this does not make my life perfect, my days stress free. It is my foundation but I am still a faltering human who regularly forgets who I am.)

When you find this part of you, when you find this Whole You, then you are a better mother, a better friend, a better human.

Until then, the cycle will continue...

And all those attempts at change and betterment?  They will fail.  Because you don't even know who you are.  How can you possibly understand who you could be?