Three weeks ago I talked about identity on my podcast and how it was not in anything you could lose. I had recently experienced a major identity crisis when I left my 9-5 so this message was important. At the same time, I was challenged by it. When I really dug into the fact that my identity is not in anything I could lose that meant EVERYTHING, not just jobs… If my identity is not that I am a wife/mom then who I am? So I start challenging that thought. I start to think about deleting the podcast episode because I am a mom…that is one of my identities, but that could be lost. I naturally avoided that thought and wanted to believe what I kept telling myself was true. I am a mom, that is one of my identities. The repeating of the phrase didn’t make the statement true or untrue it was part of it was the reality but it wasn’t the truth.
I am a mom and that is not my identity.
Maybe in the stripping of it becoming our identity, we settle on the fact that we are just real. That while all of the things we do as a mom are true it is not all that we are. I think I had been avoiding that because if I am not that I am now nothing. So I didn’t delete the podcast but I was hoping to find someone who could speak to this who had lost the entirety of their identity I had known what it felt like to lose something I identified with (my job, volleyball) but the family identity, being a mom, wife, daughter, aunt, niece is what I couldn’t or didn’t want to imagine. I was lucky enough to find Lindsey and by luck, the way we meant would be hard to explain and that is how you know it is divine. Early on as children, we build our identity by stories we are told about the people we come from since we don’t have many of our own yet. Eventually, those stories start to become a part of who we tell the world we are. I am tall like my English great grandfather, I have easy to tan reddish skin from a far off Indian bloodline, and my red hair comes from some unidentified source on my dad’s side. What would happen if those people you identified with and wrote your story around suddenly weren’t your bloodline? What would happen if your identity couldn’t be that anymore? So I sat down with Lindsay. She would say all of the things I needed to hear to start convincing myself that while it is hard to approach identity this way, it is vital. Because it could all come to a screeching halt at some point. And I would still be real. My identity is not in anything that can be lost.
Maybe that gives us a release and permission to stop losing ourselves in our children, relationships, jobs, and spouses. Maybe this story finally grants us the ability to let that go and start our way back to find our real selves. When we build our stories on removable identities the loss hits harder. Not only do we have to process the loss of a loved one or the death of a dream, but we will also have to process the loss of ourselves and the identity we once had. True to what Lindsay says you are real. You are not only the things we do. You are not only the things we have been told about yourself. You matter and your identity is up to you. If it is not in anything that can be removed, who are you? Don’t just avoid the hard realities none of us want to face. My identity is not that I am a mother. So what am I now? Maybe Lindsay gives us all the ability to remove the sting of thinking about that loss and just believing everything is real and removable so you need to build your identity around who you are and not who you have been told you are. I wanted to find a real person who could speak to this and I thought that would be the hardest person to find but it wouldn’t have. How many of us early on became mothers to babies we never got to see or hold and while the rest of the world told our story based on what they could see “you aren’t a mother,” we knew we were even if to everyone else that identity had been taken from us we still knew it to be true. That woman knows identity is not in anything that can be lost. She lost her outward identity as a mom but feels the inward impact it has had on her soul. So maybe identity can’t be in the stories we tell of physical being. Maybe it isn’t that simple. What if what we want to believe about ourselves is in the removable because it is easier. I can quickly find an identity in the work I do, or in the life I build but I can’t even begin to process the complexities of who I am as a real person if all of that was gone. Identity is in the soul. This means removable things can add meaning and depth but could never be who we really are.
If everything went away tomorrow you would still be here and as you stood there in the rubble of your life can you tell me you aren’t still real?