Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Identity Crisis (Again)

I'm having an identity crisis.  An issue with my existence.  Why am I here?  What's my value?  These are the questions that had me struggling, depressed and crying this weekend.  Is it because I'm getting old and certain parts of my body are beginning to betray me?  Is it because my kids are all grown and no longer need me the way I'm used to being needed?  Is it because I'm sober and I'm not sure if I'm embracing my introverted nature or if I'm just becoming a recluse?  Or is it because I fucked my career and am starting over and I think it might be too late?
In a word...yes.  All of the above.  Check all that apply.
They say that drinking stunts your growth.  That you only mature to the point you were when you became an alcoholic.  If that's the truth, I'm stuck at about 23 years old emotionally.  Which means I don't have a clue what the world is like and what my place is within it.  (Sorry all you 20 somethings...it's a fact.)
In a word...yes.  All of the above.  Check all that apply.
Let's be clear.  I was born 30 so there are aspects of my life in which I am a grown ass woman.  Parenting for example and...well...and...okay, just parenting.  I've been taking care of other people physically and emotionally my whole damn life.  Hell, I was brought into the world to be some sort of salve for two people who were broken and raw.  So it stands to reason that I'm good at nurturing and raising people.  Too bad I couldn't do it for myself.
When it comes to things like my career, my relationships, my self worth and self esteem, I'm still just a child.  I was talking to the hubs this weekend about all of this and I told him that I'm just beginning to realize how much of my self worth is tied up in my career and my ability to provide for my family.  If I don't rise up the corporate ladder and earn more money so we can buy more shit that we don't need, I don't feel like I have any worth - to anyone...including myself.
(The truth is I'd like to walk away from corporate America and try my hand at writing a book.  Maybe wait tables or work at Nordstrom.  Sell the house and buy a cottage with just enough room for the family and no wasted space.  But shhhhh...that's the kind of shit that freaks out my kids.)
There's something very unsettling about no longer knowing who you are...there's also something very exciting about it.  When I first got sober it scared the shit out of me!  I was terrified down to my toes.  Then I settled down and just took it...you guessed it...one day at a time.
Now that I'm settled into my sobriety and it's become a part of who I am (hey that's something...at least I know I'm sober), I'm beginning to look forward and not behind.  It doesn't matter what I was - only what I am and that's the scary part because I don't know who or what that is.
But I can also look forward to what or who I can BECOME.  That's the exciting part because all that shit they feed you when you're a kid is really true.  I can be anything I want to be.  (Cue the smoke and the singing angels.)  
However...there's good news and bad news with that particular revelation.
The bad news is that I have to figure out what and who that is.
The good news is that I am blessed with the opportunity to figure out what and who that is...if I hadn't quit drinking when I did...well...you get the picture.
Joy, rather than happiness, is the goal of life, for joy is the emotion which accompanies our fulfilling our natures as human beings. It is based on the experience of one's identity as a being of worth and dignity.  ~Rollo May 


  1. What a wonderful thing we do here, Sherry. We constantly break down the old self, and have these new questions crop up. We are destroying the old and building a new us. And like any tear down, there is pain, and there is some suffering and there are a lot of questions and sometimes some cracks in faith. This is the work part of doing the work, yes? I get those moments too, Sherry. I think we all do, especially when we are growing and getting out of our skin and into new parts of our life. What is our life? My life is where I am at right now. I am not what I was, and I don't know what I am yet to be. But I have now. And of course, I make decisions and plans for the future. Of course we do. But I don't know how things will unfold, ya know? I do the leg work, and leave the outcome to the Universal Mind. that's the part that nicks at my impatient, controlling part. But that's the part of the growth - letting that controlling part go. Ugh. Not always easy. And I want answers to questions you mentioned NOW. I don't get them now. I am learning patience. But I sure as hell can take the actions I feel behooved and nudged towards. That is all I can do.

    Big stuff here, Sherry. And I don't have the answers. These can only come from within, and through contemplation. Silence. Mindfulness. Meditation. We are seekers, and this is seeking.

    Love this post. As they say, you are where you need to be.

    Even if it involves some tears.

    Hugs and blessings,

    1. Ugh I KNOW! I want answers now! But I am learning patience, and to be in the moment, and to breathe, and to be still.

      So that's progress.

      And that's all I can hope for.

      Thanks Paul...

  2. It sounds like you are in a process of finding your authentic self...not the drinking you, not the mama you, not the g-ma you, nor the corporate you, or even the Elmo's wife you..... just you. How exciting!

    1. Oh my...I hadn't really thought of it that way but I think you're right!!!

      Whoa...now you've really given me something to chew on...

      Thanks my friend...

  3. Thank you for putting this into words. Every time I think my feelings are unique, I come across something showing me they aren't that unique at all.

    1. Yep...that's what's funny and wonderful about this process we find out that we aren't as special as we thought we were and while that may be hard to take, it's such a relief to know you're not the only one!

  4. I swear, I think the moon must be doing something crazy, because I was feeling desperate this week too.

    And remember that thing that we talked about? You already love yourself enough? Remember what you said to your niece, but then say it to you?

    And I don't think you have to figure out who you are. I think you know who you are. You have to be not afraid to be it. You have to not try to make yourself into what you aren't to please other people or the world in general.

    Too bad we can't make it to High Point today!


    1. Ooooo...this is really good. Loving myself...not so much yet but I'm trying and I'm trying to remember to use what I said to her. Easier said than done I guess.

      And yes, I guess I am afraid to just be it because it's not crystal clear and I only like what is evident and clear and not what's vague and murky.

      Lots of good stuff here - and yes, it's a full moon so that certainly MAY have a great deal to do with it! Yeah...let's go with that.


  5. Growth. Growth is painful and not always a simple linear path where you say "Ok I don't like being here, so I'll go over there, Step 1, Step 2, Step 3 - there in new place all easy". If only it were all that simple eh?

    In my recovery I've had several growth spurts where things have seemed just right and I've sorted stuff out in my mind and in my world and all is ok with that aspect - doesn't mean others may have been all over the place at the same time mind you. Then I've had other times of plateau, if not decline, and I've felt lost and not knowing even necessarily what aspect of my life it is I'm unsatisfied with and what needed changing ... if anything! I mean could this just be the unrealistic, ungrateful Graham of old wanting more than is reasonable to expect?

    It takes time and effort to sort the wheat from the chaff, to see the wood from the trees (any other crass metaphore I can shoehorn in here?!) ... sometimes these things need outside help, professional help to even just figure where the issue is.

    About 2 years into recovery I sought some professional counselling about a particular issue that kept coming back to haunt me. I went there and signed up for something like 8 sessions I think. However I never got to the end of the sessions, soon it was apparant the issue wasn't an issue at all really, at least not how I'd viewed it and once all on the the table I knew the right answer for me and the counsellor quite correctly said "I don't think you need me any more".

    Other things though have taken a long time to figure out. Like work - I've done a similar job now for over 20 years - IT management of some desciption of other. Now as I've changed as a person, possibly through recovery maybe just because I'm an old cynical git now I'm not sure, I've got to the point of considering most of what I do in work as really not that important, even possibly at times futile. I left my company of a long career, tried one other, didn't like the lifestyle that needed, joined a great organisation who seriously do strive to improve mankinds prospects (that isn't an ideal boast either really), but still... futility. Finally I've followed a choice to move towards a helping career where I can be one on one with people and work to help them particularly I hope with my experience of recovery as well if that is possible. But that has taken me at least 4 - 5 years to get to acceptance and action on that point...

    Good luck on the journey - keep asking the questions - seek out others who have those experiences and seek out advice from those you can trust

    1. You are simply the best. Thank you so much for this.

      I too sought counseling at about two years and, like you, they sent me home and told me I didn't need therapy. Wait. What?

      So I guess on some level I'm okay. Maybe, just maybe these are issues that non-alcoholics deal with on a day to day basis. And maybe, just maybe, they deal the don't make a big deal out it. I'm going to have to chew on that one awhile.

      As far as work...I am so proud (in a totally non-condesending way) of you for following your heart with your career. And I'm a little jealous - not sure I have the courage for that right now. But when the kids are out of college, I think the world will open to those possibilities.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. I know you don't think you are, but you really are very wise.


    2. I feel like I need to share this with you: Once we put the "plug in the jug", and begin working on the things (character, I think they call it) that were ignored while we were emotionally stunted, we begin to grow emotionally again. I've been well aware of my own "social retardedness" for the entirety of my time sober, and some days it's a real drag. But I hopw you are in a better place, mentally, and emotionally, this evening. Life is good, and it's getting better. Right? (Nod, please) ;)

    3. You are far too kind... Wise?! - I'm not sure about that... in the immortal words of Jimi Hendrix - "Are you experienced? Well I am" That is all really, I've been trudging the path to happy destiny a while now and I just have some experience that is all


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