Is this what they call an identity crisis? Is this what it feels like to not know who you are anymore? Is this the ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ that people talk about?
After many years of family and relationship trauma, I had lost so many parts of me along the way, that I really didn’t know who I was anymore. They say that parts of your soul go into hiding after trauma, some call it ‘Soul fractures’- I felt that. I also had put up barriers and walls around me, and created new coping mechanisms which changed the way I related to others; even close friends and family members.
Would I ever feel like myself again – who was I at the core anyway? Did I ever really have a strong idea of who I was? What did I believe now? What did I value ? What made me happy? What fulfilled me and what did I want to do with my life?
I resisted this for a long time…of course I knew who I was, I had done years of self development and inner work…I had to right?! I denied that I had an identity crisis for years, and so I stayed in the bubble of facade, of the false self – the denial, resistance and ignorance pushed me further into myself, my walls became bigger, my trust in all others became weaker, and my True Self stayed ‘up there’ in the ethers, waiting for me to call upon her for help and waiting for me to acknowledge this wound – this truth, that i didn’t know who I was anymore….this took me years to actually do – yes years!!
And so I remained in the dark, inauthentic, pretending, and avoiding. I put on my mask every day, every time I was around others, and I developed a false self-void of my true personality, my quirkiness and my unique sense of humour, I was like an Artificial Bot – everything was on the surface, polite, and nice…but there was no true sense of me there.
How could I get past this, when I had felt so betrayed by those I had loved? My trust was shattered time and time again, by those that I loved. Deep down in the depths of myself, I had lost faith in people, I had stopped connecting, it became foreign to me, I had forgotten how to laugh, how to relate and how to just ‘be’ with people….It scared me and my fear became obvious when with people, I became hyper-vigilant, and super-aware of what they were thinking of me, were they judging me, and so I was not fully present, and everything was on the surface, and shallow…this was my worst nightmare, to feel so inauthentic…a ‘fake’ person, shallow…but how would I fix this? How would I rescue the lost parts of me? How would I learn who I was now after trauma? How would I learn to trust and relate again? I longed for true soul connections, for any kind of connection that felt real. I longed to not feel anxious around others and to just feel comfortable and relaxed in my skin.
Because here is the thing – Trauma does change you, you are not the same person after trauma, and I guess maybe that’s the whole evolutionary purpose of it right? To strip away all that is false, and to become a truer, more authentic and fuller version of yourself.
And so this journey began…it started with something so simple and yet profound how much it shifted my perspective – ’acknowledgement’. I acknowledged that I had this identity crisis, this false sense of self – and that alone shifted things dramatically. I breathed a sigh of release – ahhhh finally!!! I could fully embrace this false sense of self, and start to review and process how this happened and how I could heal. I had done so much shadow work over the last few years, and it had helped me so much, but this was the big thing that was holding me back and stopping me from reaching my full light. I didn’t want to be a ‘fake person’, shallow or inauthentic. I didn’t want to be always so polite and nice. What the fuck had happened to my sense of humour, my assertiveness and my speaking the truth?
Then I had the ‘ Epiphany’ – the truth is that none of that was the real me, it wasn’t who I truly was, it wasn’t my true self – it was a symptom of trauma, a coping mechanism, an aspect created by the wounded ‘me’ to protect ‘me’…This was a huge epiphany and sigh of relief…how could I fully be myself, if I didn’t accept myself? How could I fully relate if I felt like I was hiding parts of myself, like a dirty, shameful secret that I had kept inside for so long? I suddenly felt like I had been let out of the cage. I felt safe again. I felt loved. I felt like I had come home again to my ‘True self’. The epiphanies kept coming. It all made sense; of course I would have an identity crisis after trauma; of course I would create a facade to protect myself – yet these things are never spoken about, they’re still taboo, particularly here in Ireland.
So I am here to share these insights with you. Where am I today? I am still on the journey of re-discovery. It’s like starting a new, I’m learning about my likes and dislikes again. I am creating new and healthy boundaries. I am re-connecting with what I love – what sets my soul on fire, what I have to do every single day. I am learning to laugh again, to have fun again. I’m learning to connect again, and take it slowly. I’m learning who I like to be around, and putting the effort into maintaining these connections. I am learning to speak highly of myself. I am learning to speak openly about my mental health journey. I am learning that I still won’t be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’, and that’s taken time, and lots of self love to accept this. I am learning to connect with ‘Little Alice’ again, to check in with her and protect her, make new promises to her and love and nurture her like never before. I am learning to shine my light again and embrace my quirky side. I am learning to speak up and share my story. I am learning to express myself. I am learning to listen to my own wisdom from within, and not to seek answers outside of myself. Most of all, I am learning what true self – love is, and I am just getting started. My new story is only just beginning and for the first time in a long time I feel really excited about what is to come.