Today I listened to a podcast on the topic of identity (Estée Lalonde The Heart of it, it you’re wondering!) and it got me thinking. Who am I? Who is Ellie? How do I define myself?
Identity is something I have always struggled with I think. My lack of confidence means I always focused on who I am to other people… I am a daughter, a sister etc. For the vast majority of the time since I was 15, being a girlfriend was a major part of my identity.
When I was with The Ex, I became more like he wanted me to be. I started using slang language which was not my style, I wore what he liked me to wear, I rejected scouting, my school and felt very separate from my family. But none of that was really me. It was me trying to be the Ellie he wanted. Of course, being so controlling and manipulating, I didn’t realise that at the time at all, I felt like I was being myself. But there was the cognitive dissonance, where I was doing things I knew I didn’t agree with and trying to pretend that was me.
Fast forward to the age of 18, The Ex left me. I was in a state, to put it mildly. I didn’t know who I was anymore without him. He had made me feel distanced from my friends and family, my hobbies were gone, I had no clue.
I started to try and find myself, but I think I was in the mind of a 15 year old, because I never got to do that exploration at that age.
Then there was S. Things were so different, he seemed to like me for who I was, it was so strange not to be put down all the time. But now that S has left me too, I am starting to see that the me I was when I was with S wasn’t me either. I am like a chameleon, my need to please others means that I will strive to be whoever I think they want me to be.
The problem is, I’m on my own now and I feel so lost. I’m not a girlfriend anymore. I don’t know my identity but I want to find it.
I am going to try and work out who I am, for myself instead of for anyone else. I think it’s going to be a long journey but I am actually sick of my identity not being real, of being so scared of being myself that I forget who I really am.
Of course, my illnesses come into my identity, but they are not my identity. For too long they have been. I’m like this because of my anxiety, or I can’t do that because of my fatigue. No. I have to accept that my collection of illnesses are part of me, but I am more than just my illnesses.
I am fed up of moving around and feeling sorry for myself. Yes, S left, and yes it still hurts every single day, but being sad and going over and over all the what ifs isn’t actually going to help me. Moving forward and focusing on my future will.
Wow, that was not quite what I intended when I sat down to write this post! I think I’ll be writing more about identity as I go through my journey. I’d love to hear about your experience with working out who you really are!