Who Did I Think I Was? Discovering my True Identity




true identity
the search for identity

I had to take my life back. I had to stop believing that “they were right” about me. As I got stronger, I noticed things that I had not noticed before. Sometimes I thought that they “wanted” to love me. But something stopped them.

(I thought it was me that stopped them, my defect, my lack but that was not the truth. Always remember, this is a quest to find the truth)  

It was as though loving me, validating me and accepting me, would somehow diminish them. As though that in order to love me, or empower me, they would have to give up something of themselves. As though if they were not “above me” or more important than me, then that would indicate that they were not as valuable; as though “equality” is unacceptable and that equality is not validating enough for them.

I also saw this dynamic with my father in law, towards my husband. Sometimes I thought he “wanted to love his son” but something held him back. It was as though my father in law was afraid to love his son or regard him as an equal, because if he did, he would no longer be God in his sons life.  I also knew that my father in law did not care about me in the least. I was just one of the pawns in the kingdom he resided over.

It is a sick and dysfunctional system.  And it is built on the lie that your survival is at stake if you don’t accept the dysfunction as right and normal function. We are taught in many subtle ways that they are “God” and that they rule over us and that if we don’t like it, we risk life itself. So we try everything we can to accept the way things are.

In order for a sick and dysfunctional system to work, there is a grooming process. In this process I was systematically taught that that the success or failure of the entire relationship is for the most part, on my shoulders.  I felt responsible for the self esteem of everyone.. as though if I demanded equal value or even expected equal value, that I was somehow hurting someone else or taking something away from someone else. Did I think there was only so much “value” to go around? I felt like I was wrong to think that I had value. Deep down I was afraid that knowing my value would somehow be conceited. I didn’t believe that I had equal value in the first place so did that actually mean that I believed that they had more value than I did? I even thought that taking credit for my accomplishments was wrong because taking credit was like being “too full of myself”.  

This list of beliefs and fears went on and on containing all these little lies that were buried inside my mind. Where had I learned these things? Why did I believe them? I found so many of my answers in answering those questions.

And the answers to those questions ~ these lies ~ had become part of me. They made me who I was.  I was afraid that if I exposed them as lies, and faced the truth, that I would no longer be who I was. I would not be ME anymore.   And if I was no longer “who I was” or the way that I had come to know myself, then WHO WAS I?? Who would I be? Who would I become? I couldn’t see that having NO identity was better than keeping the false one that I had.  I didn’t realize that I could find my true identity by exposing the lies about my present identity and then letting it go. I wanted to keep my false identity while I tried on my new identity, but it didn’t quite work that way.

I didn’t like the feelings of being lost or feeling so alone. I didn’t feel comfortable with my old identity anymore but I was afraid of the new one.

It was such a dilemma but in spite of it, I had this hope for healing. I believed that I was on the right track so I went ahead and I kept looking at the causes; I kept examining the abuse and the mistreatment and the fact that I had not been emotionally taken care of; always looking for the underlying beliefs that I had adopted as truth about myself as I kept going forward with my emotional healing.

And it paid off.

AND through the willingness to face all this, epxose the lies, discover the truth and answer those life long nagging questions ~ my identity is no longer in question.

Please share your thoughts on this amazing journey.

Darlene Ouimet

Related Post ~ Emotional Healing and the Causes of Low Self Esteem

Judgement, Stigma and Depression come from Somewhere

The Emerging from Broken book is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing


82 response to "Who Did I Think I Was? Discovering my True Identity"

  1. By: Carlos Posted: 26th April

    This post reminds me of some words I decided to jot down a couple of months ago. Throughout the years, I have been called stupid and many other names by my ever so loving maternal grandmother and father dear, all of which I fell for. I could handle it if it was someone outside of the family as I could just cuss the heck out of them, but why does it have to happen in the place where solace and comfort should be abundant? *Sigh* Enough giving myself false hope. Now back to my composition which this post reminded me of:

    Who am I?
    I ask myself the question
    When the sound of my name is what people mention

    Am I obedient, as a result of being too lenient?
    Am I kind-hearted by conforming to all of the things that they started?
    Am I loving, as I still chose to see brightness in spite of the constant shoving?
    Am I caring for all those times where I thought that the best policy was sharing?
    Am I a loser for letting myself be controlled relentlessly by an abuser?

    Alas I have come to an understanding
    About who I really am through my journey of constant learning

    I am strong for being able to distinguish between what is right and wrong
    I am brave for sharing the truth instead of choosing to remain uncouth
    I am a fighter for choosing to annihilate the fire
    I am sensitive, for I know that bad things are the cause for some or most to lose the will to live
    I am emotional, for it is better than what I once was, that being delusional
    I am loving and caring to those of whom I know do not condone tearing
    I am different and better, for choosing to believe that acknowledging the pain is a thing that should really matter
    I am angry when needed, to those who feel that being defeated, is the key for them to be heeded
    I am no longer someone who is out of sight, when I decided to abandon the darkness to cross over the light
    I am full of worth, in spite of the things that people did which caused a lot of hurt
    I am smart for choosing to preserve the love that is left within my heart
    I am hard working, in my quest to heal all of the hurting
    I am intelligent, not just for the knowledge I have gained, but also for choosing not to be like them, the word being belligerent

    Who am I?
    Again, now I really know
    A person who has been impeded several times, yet is now slowly gaining the power to grow

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 26th April

      Hi Carlos
      Thank you for sharing your poem! Its full of truth and empowerment! 🙂
      hugs, Darlene

  2. By: Helpingmyself Posted: 1st May

    Another wonderful article, Darlene. I am still stuck in some of that mindset, but I feel like at least being cognizant of that fact puts me far ahead of where I used to be. Thank you again for putting these feelings into the words that we struggle to find as we emerge from broken.

    Mother’s day is next weekend, and for the first time, I will not be participating in the obligatory crap that leaves me feeling miserable and drained. These validations will keep me strong, chin up, and secure in my convictions that I deserve better.

  3. By: Hobie Posted: 6th May

    At this point, I feel like I could have a tolerable relationship with my mother if she could simply believe that I have endured what I told her I’d been through, and recognize that it impacted my whole life.

    I remember her saying at one point that if my boyfriend hit me, I must have done something to deserve it. She doesn’t remember saying that and claims she never would say it. I still heard her say it, and if she doesn’t want to acknowledge that she did, I would be satisfied to hear her say to me in a way I could believe. “You could not have done anything to deserve for him to hit you.”

    The rift that started a little over a year ago started between my brother & me. I’m not willing to allow him to speak to me again the way he did, and have refused to attend family gatherings. Essentially, the rest of my family settled on his side. My mother even tried to convince me that he was only telling the truth and I’m not supposed to even be hurt, let alone angry or upset with him.

    My oldest daughter has told me off and thrown me out of her life. My son is trying to maintain some kind of neutral ground but I can see the intensity of his discomfort. My youngest daughter is so confusing I’ve given up on her too.

    So my Mom keeps calling and chatting about all the people in the family that have rejected me without a clue that it could be kinda like rubbing salt in a wound. We don’t talk about anything that’s wrong…

    What do I want? What can I live with? And if my entire family from mother to youngest granddaughter blame me for everything, how do I recover from the loss. If they all died, people would see the grief as normal.

    Yet I feel like the choice to make here is whether to let them go, or let myself die (metaphorically speaking).

    It doesn’t feel that much like a choice still to be made, I think I know I have to let them all go. It’s taking the step forward to do the work involved with acknowledging the loss.

    I appreciate your response Darlene. You’re good at what you do 🙂

  4. By: Hobie Posted: 6th May

    This is a very good description of where I feel like I am in the journey.

    The choice I am trying to make is whether or not to maintain any kind of relationship with my mother. It hurts to try to continue the relationship, and it also hurts to end the relationship.

    The conditions she has on our relationship include that I can’t talk about stuff that makes her uncomfortable. She doesn’t want to deal with my reality of having been molested as a child and sexually abused in my teens. She doesn’t want to know if I’m hurt or upset or struggling.

    I also find that I can’t share my progress or victories or process. When I’m happy, I don’t know how to share that happiness because it is based on a reality that she doesn’t acknowledge.

    The attempt to connect with her is usually painful, even though she’s not yelling or complaining at me. What she does is talk at me, so quickly I can barely get a word in. It feels obvious to me that she’s protecting herself from what she is afraid I may have to say.

    It’s the subtlety of the invalidation that makes it hard to identify it as toxic. I’m always asking myself why I let it bother me, because I feel like “the bad guy” to say I just don’t want to put up with it.

    If my family members can tell me that they only want me in their lives when I look happy (it doesn’t matter if I really AM happy or not, they don’t really want to know), why can’t I say that I don’t want them in my lives if we can’t be honest with each other?

    I think it boils down to me being able to give myself permission to keep a safe distance from whatever is not helping me.

    I’m told I have to recognize that my mother is not going to really change at this point in our lives. She won’t become the loving mother I always wanted. I guess I don’t owe it to her to be the daughter she always wanted. It really is harmful to me to try to fill that role. I can change, but it’s too much work for me to end up in worse shape than I am now.


    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 6th May

      Hi Hobie
      This is the core of the issue, isn’t it? This was the crossroads that I reached when making my decision. I didn’t actually have to decide because I asked my mother for mutual respect and briefly explained what that was. She made the decision for me. In the end, it isn’t that I wanted her to change as much as I refused to put up with that kind of treatment.
      It is hard. And unfortunately we don’t really see what is on the other side, until we are there. 🙁
      Hugs, Darlene

  5. By: Alice Posted: 3rd May

    The more I believe in myself and stop believing the lies I was conditioned to, the more surprised and scared I am of the real me. The truth is that I am a very, very strong person who lacks the confidence and self-worth to harness my strength. I’ve been taught to doubt myself and that my attempts to better myself or be successful are pointless and arrogant. I am struggling to believe the truth because it feels too good to be true. I’m used to believing I am a subhuman who can’t handle being a real person and so I do not deserve to be a functioning member of society. When I look past the lies and see the truth about who I really am and what I have been through and accomplished it amazes me and I feel nothing but arrogance when trying to acknowledge and take responsibility for the positives in my life. How can I be such a strong, honest, compassionate, understanding, driven and persistent person? It adds up perfectly but it’s like I’m not allowed to touch it.

  6. By: Jamie Posted: 2nd May

    My default setting seems to be self hate, worry, and anger. And that sadness and helplessness that comes from believing I am broken and the fear that I may not ever be able to get better. After I deleted all my aunts and uncles and other family that keeps in touch with my mom, I felt a huge burden of guilt and shame lift. Who new such a simple thing would seemingly untie the last little threads that were somehow holding me back. I realized that it is time to build new foundations, to really examine and take back my thoughts and reactions to the world. My mantra has been “Infinite love, clear focus, steadfast kindness, and gentleness for myself and loved ones.” I was really resisting and making excuses to not make the changes. I can admit that it is going to take a lot of effort and maybe time… But iVe spent the last majority of my life in the paradigm I grew up in, only started making active changes and working on my issues in the last 5 years. I look forward to getting to know the real me now, I’ve been afraid of the prospect in the past which is probably why I held so tightly to the defeated definition I inherited. Thanks, this was timely for me.

  7. By: Karen Ranes Posted: 3rd May

    To Renee
    I isolate too. My family never let me associate with other “normal” family. They were put down
    as being bad people. My Friends were discouraged or frightened away. I find I isolate more now than
    I use to. Its hard to go out and make friends..so hard. I have not known how to be in a good
    relationship so I’m used by others and feel hurt and back away. After being on this site I see I am not different,
    I am quite average, by that I mean not different except in my mind, and not “bad” and there is no reason to be afraid to go put my toe in the water. I am
    going to volunteer somewhere and start there. I have stopped contact with my abusive mother. Every day
    without belittling abuse I feel a little better. I believed “them” all my life and they lied.
    Karen R

  8. By: Christine Posted: 2nd May

    OHMYGOSH…..I’m bawling here…..I finally get it!!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 3rd May

      Hi Christine
      Thanks for sharing, I am glad that you “get it!” yay.
      Hugs, Darlene

  9. By: Renee Posted: 18th July

    Thank you, Keep letting them know, write to them as if they are reading your e-mails. My oldest was angry for years and I had no idea until one day she came to apologise to me. I was surprised I had no idea she was angry. What changed her was, she went and lived with him. She realized why I had left and that was a turning point in our relationship. We made a pack that we would be honest with each other and at the end of the day we would still love each other, we have a good relationship that I wouldn’t trade for the world. She is one awesome daughter and friend. So keep in there and fight for your relationship no matter how long it takes it’s worth it.

  10. By: jojie chua Posted: 18th July

    Dear Darlene and Renee,
    Thank you for the words of wisdom and support. You are the kind of women who inspires people like me starting on with a new life, a normal life I have longed for.

    Yes, Renee, I have three children ages 30, 26 and 22. My eldest son seemed to have inherited the narcissism both in mine and my husband’s genes. (Is it inherited, by the way?) He, among the three. is given the special treatment in the family, the golden child. He is given the special privilege I as the wife never had. Behind me, my ex has devalued me, losing the respect I deserve as a mother. There was one time when my son confronted me with rage (out of a petty and trivial matter ), and when I tried to defend myself, my ex teamed up with him in the attack, instead of pacifying him. It was from then on that I realized my life is doomed knowing I will have to deal with two narcissists in my life. (I saw the red flags, having a narcissist mother and an elder sister. My mother passed away last year and I have cut ties with my sister.) It was then that I realized I did not belong in such an environment. It was a dilemma whether to stay for my children and forever be dealing with narcissists for the rest of my life.

    My two younger children are not as aggressive. Somehow, I feel their sympathy whenever I am treated bad. But I understand they have to go along with their father and their eldest brother because they are still dependent financially on the both of them. My ex and my eldest son are the ones running the family business, and the art of control has been very well established. It seemed to be the natural way to live life for them. (Yes, my father in law is a narcissist, control freak himself. Amazing how I was able to live my life like this for 30 years, huh?)

    Blocking me from Facebook. I am not sure whether this is my children’s decision or is it of my ex or my eldest son. I emailed them saying they can block me as facebook friend but they can never block me as a mother to them. I shall continuously email them telling them how much I love them no matter what.

    I pray and hope that one day they will realize what is normal and not. I pray and hope that one day, truth will prevail. I pray and hope that one day I shall be reunited with my children.

    But for the meantime, I shall heal and I know it’s not going to be easy. Thank you my dear women of strength, you inspire me to go on with life.

  11. By: Renee Posted: 18th July

    Let me get this right, you have grown children that wont speak to you in another country? You left your soon to be ex and you are living in this country, right?
    If that assumption is correct then try to facebook a friend of your children or a member of the family that hates your ex. Let them know what is going on and that you love and miss your kids. Let them know how to get a hold of you and wait. It may take some time. I have used this method when I was excommunicated and wanted a few people I respected to know how to get a hold of me. I phyc. told me something I have used every since she told me, so for about 30 years. “when the front door of life shuts in your face, go through the back door, if that is locked, go through the window, if that is shut climb a latter and go through the upstairs window, heck no one locks the upstairs window”! What this wise women meant was don’t give up. Don’t let the abusers block your path of healing and healing relationships that are worth saving, like your childrens. Keep trying,they will see your strenght and love through your efforts. Please know we are here for you. Never give up something you know is worth the effort.

  12. By: jojie chua Posted: 17th July

    It has been almost a month that I left home, leaving my ocpd/npd husband and three adult children. Weeks before I decided to leave my country, my ex husband refused to let me speak to my children. Triangulation. He controlled the situation, refusing me to say goodbye to my children and vice versa. My chidren blocked me from their facebook accounts and never replied to my emails. They are apparently mad with me, not hearing my side, it’s just not fair.
    Loneliness is gripping me. Sometimes, I want to turn back and be where it was, suffering but still in my comfort zone, with my children around — my source of happiness all these years. Is it just a phase that I have to go through? I knew there was no turning back when I left my husband, but my adult children are the ones making me have second thoughts. I yearn for home. I don’t know if I `can make it to live a new life without them. Help. I need words of support to get through this loneliness.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 17th July

      Hi Jojie
      There really is nothing easy about any of this. I am so sorry. The problem with drawing boundaries is that everyone else has a choice too and its awful when the abuser appears to win.. however, there is no other way to take our lives back but to take them back and draw those lines. Your children may come around and see the truth, that is my hope. The truth is a powerful thing. Hopefully they also realize that he is the one who is wrong. Men like that rarely only go after the wife. When the wife is gone, they still need someone to control and someone to restore them and their order. That would naturally be the kids in which case eventually they should see why you had to leave.
      Hang in ,
      Hugs, Darlene

  13. By: jojie chua Posted: 7th July

    I have been following this blog site in Facebook for a year now, learning and preparing for the move I have just made. It did prepare me, the knowledge I gained gave me the courage to pursue the change I have been wanting to do.

    I know this is just the beginning of a long journey in reclaiming my true identity. My ex is vindictive and he will not just let me go easily. But I have gone through the hardest hurdle, and that is to make the choice. I am now being condemned, which is what I expect..from my children who thinks it was selfish of me to abandon the family.

    Thank you for the warm welcome and the support I shall be needing in my search for a new life.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 7th July

      Once again, welcome and I hope you share often. You have taken a major stand (and I congratulate you for your courage!) and you will need support. I hope you find it here. Congratulations on your decision to love yourself! I am not the same person that I was before, when I put up with everyone else’s definition of who I was. Realizing the truth about everything has enabled me to find my true identity and I love being me! The changes in my life have had a ripple effect for the good ~ which is a bonus!

      The world is brainwashed about the whole concept of leaving abuse. I have met people who were told that they should put up with beatings and all manner of other abuse from their husbands rather then leave him. They were not even accused of lying about the abuse, just told to accept it. I don’t understand that. That is not even legal and it certainly isn’t life. I took a stand too but my husband decided to try to change and stop discounting me. My mother however disowned me but that is her problem and my victory.
      Hugs, Darlene

  14. By: Renee Posted: 7th July

    Hi Jojie,
    Welcome, Of all the places you could have blogged on you picked the best. It is safe here, you can grow, totally be yourself, you can have a really bad day on here too. Your search in finding your true self will evolve in time. You have an awesome support group here. You can mend here and we will lend you our shoulders to cry on and carry you if you need it.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 7th July

      What a beautiful note you have written to Jojie. Thank you.
      Everything you say is very true!
      Hugs, Darlene

  15. By: jojie chua Posted: 6th July

    I have just separated from my husband of thirty years. I have made my first step on a journey in finding my true identity. Having raised by a narcissist mother and married a narcissist/OCPD husband for thirty years, I no longer know who I really am. After the death of my mother in July, 2010, something broke the chain that I was in bondage of to a life of lies, manipulation, and abuse.

    It is not easy to learn a life I am not used to. The pain of leaving my comfort zone, leaving my children for my sanity’s sake, they are now what is breaking me. But I am holding on, looking forward to LIVE life as how it should be. I am taking one step at a time, one day at a time.

    Birthing pain is how I compare to what I am going through now. The pain is intense, but that is how Life begins.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 6th July

      Hi Jojie
      Welcome to Emerging from Broken.
      I realized at the beginning of this journey that I too had grown up not knowing who I was. Through this process that I write about in this site, I found my true identity, and finally live my life as ME. It is hard and the pain can be intense, but all of it is really worth it.
      Please share as often as you wish.
      Hugs, Darlene

  16. By: Dru Posted: 24th May

    “All I want is x” and I’ve always felt responsible for making it happen, regardless of whether my mother’s wishes were realistic or not. And when I’d of course inevitably fail, I would feel even worse for being such a failure.

    I’m still trying to figure out who I am, but I’m only just starting to understand the lifelong grooming that took place.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 24th May

      Take heart! The only place to start IS at the beginning! I was in my 40s when I finally realized what had happened to me. And it took some doing, and a few years of work, but I got it all sorted out and I am living MY life now as ME and not who anyone esle wanted me to be, and not emersed in a whack of lies.
      Hugs, Darlene

  17. By: Ian Posted: 7th May

    WOW again. @ Cassandra, EXACTLY. they do want us to feel guilty. and miserable, dependent on their approval. very sad to watch, and painful to be stuck in. You are SO right on !!!

    @Darlene, thanks for the mothers day article. Clarifies a lot for me. I’M NOT CRAZY !!!! All of you GET it, how dysfunctional mothers [and fathers] plant ideas in our heads that we are unworthy and burdensome. I am struggling to put this in words, still digesting it all. Stuff I can’t get in just 45 minutes per week in therapy. This place gives me hope, thank you again so much !

  18. By: CASSANDRA ROSE Posted: 7th May

    I found you Darlene after I started my journey via Kyle @ PEEAM ~

    You got me through my first Thanksgiving alone..
    and then Christmas came and went and Easter came
    and went without too much problem ~
    But Mother’s Day for sure takes your breath away !!
    Especially with all the commercials and talk about it..

    I was weakening that I might visit my mother ~
    Not tomorrow but when I have a car to use on Tuesday ~
    Stop by to drop stuff off as I am going out of town for month ~
    But after reading all the post after my original ( #32) today ~
    I realize there is no point ~ It is only ” obligation” speaking
    Just leave it alone ~as it really is too painful for me ~

    I have to stay true to that reality ” forgetting you ever had a family is 1st step to forgiveness and healing” ~
    I am sure she does not think about me and is very happy as her oblivion and self absorption was part of the abuse…

    I too change the dynamics of abuse by raising my son the complete opposite of my mother which drove her nuts !!
    She tried to be mean to my son but I would not let her…
    Such crazy dynamics ~ he at 21 has much to heal from via the assaults by my bio family and we get beyond it all for ever so it is a distant memory…

    The point is.. the abusers want you to FEEL Bad ~
    That is how they get their pleasure is to see you suffer…
    so if you are suffering by not seeing your mother etc..
    then you give her what she wants anyway !!
    They get a rush off you feeling guilty ~ so do NOT give into it..

    My son is at college and I alone so tomorrow Mom’s Day ~
    I am having this man I found through word of mouth come over to redecorate my home… he is into energy placement.. beyond feng shui he said..
    Which is what I really need… Use all what I have here in my condo but change the dynamics so there is a better flow… Tonight I give myself a mud bath and facial with candles and soft music…. Being able to mend yourself is Powerful for reclaiming yourself and moving on.. No one is going to do it for us…
    That old put your oxygen mask on first is very true….

    We have to practice the Art of Allowing.
    Which means reaching for the thought that feels best,
    not the thought that is the real thought.
    Not the thought that is telling it like it is.

    Telling it like it is only holds you where it is:
    “Damn it, I’m going to tell it like it is.
    I’m going to tell it like it is, because everybody wants me to tell it like it is.” Tell it like it is if you like it like it is.

    But if you don’t like it like it is,
    then don’t tell it like it is— “tell it like you want it to be”.

    If you tell it like you want it to be long enough,
    you will begin to “feel it” like you want it to be.

    And when you “feel it” like you want it to be,
    it WILL be in actuality like you want it to be

    Have a Super MOM’s Day Everyone !! xoxo Cas

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