I understand wanting to give up. I understand what it feels like to lose hope and I am very familiar with that sinking feeling that there is no way out of the darkness, the depressions, and oppression. I remember feeling hopeless and believing that trying harder or even trying at all anymore, was just pointless. I was too tired of the fight. I didn’t see any way over it or even through it anymore.
And now that I am on the other side of all that, I realize why I felt that way. I know why I almost gave up my life and home, my husband and children and the will to live.
Although there are many factors that contribute to coming to a place of hopelessness, in this blog post I am only going to talk about the loss of my identity and the loss of my choice.
I had already lost my identity when I was still very young. By the time I was in my thirties I was finally convinced that I wasn’t worth saving. It wasn’t hard to convince myself of this because it was more like I just “agreed” with the opinions I had grown up with. I had been told in actions and in the reactions of others that I wasn’t really worth saving. Patty Hite from the website Overcoming Sexual Abuse just wrote a really insightful and excellent blog post about how she learned about her value. This post gives some foundation to the statement I just made.
There are some foundational reasons why I came to this drastic conclusion. It wasn’t that I had given up my identity. It was taken from me. I had slowly and over time been defined by other people. I felt as though I wasn’t worth the air I breathed, because when other people define you, THEY teach you that the real you isn’t worth anything. That is the message that I got every time I did something I was told I was “wrong” “bad” or when I got that look of disapproval. That is the message I got when I was told that I was exaggerating or lying, and when I was told that what was happening to me WASN’T happening to me. That is the message that I got when I was not taken care of properly. That message is that I wasn’t worth it and that I didn’t matter. My identity was not approved of; I was invalid.
It wasn’t that I had given up my choice either; it was taken from me. I didn’t DO something to be defined as unworthy; something was done to me FIRST ~ way before I ever added my own crimes to that list. But as soon as I added something that is viewed by the world as a “choice I made” (drug use, alcohol addiction, sleeping with a boy, swearing, stealing, hitting someone even if that was in self defence) I instantly believed every unworthy statement that had ever been assigned to me by someone else.
No one encouraged me or empowered me to be myself. I realized as an adult that I had a choice BUT it took me a long time to realize that I had a choice, because nothing was ever about ME growing up. When we grow up with all the decisions being made based on the motives of others, we don’t realize that we have a choice of our own in life. It wasn’t my fault or my defect that when I was an adult I didn’t know I had a choice. I was a product of my environment. A lot of my recovery was about realizing the sequence of events and the foundation that was set for me to arrive in the mess of emotions and confusion that I was in.
Eventually I did realize that I had a choice; I could give up or I could decide to empower myself. I could make a difference in my own life. I could choose to stop believing that I was unworthy. It was just a small decision at first but I got a glimpse of how I could change my own life and I chose yes. I decided that I was worth it. I made that decision on my own. I decided to take my life back. I decided to go on the journey. I picked ME. That was the first choice I made on this new path that had nothing to do with anyone else’s definition of me, or with someone else’s motives.
(And then the real work started… and there are lots of other blog posts about that!) .
So what do you think? Did your identity get squished along the way? Can you see the value in taking your life back and redefining yourself?
Related posts ~ the little girl who cried wolf and belief system development