Earlier this month I talked about progress. It felt incredibly powerful to acknowledge how far I’ve come. But underneath that was something else: a feeling of being lost, in a way; of not knowing who I am anymore.
A while ago a counsellor said to me that when you are abused as a child you fail to develop that true sense of who you are; the inner core that always believes in you. I’ve felt this for a very long time.
Instead, I guess, you develop this outer shell that protects you. For a while at least. Then it starts to crack and crumble, and fails to work anymore. Then you go into therapy and start dealing with all that heinous sh1t, and all the symptoms of PTSD and depression and god-knows-what-else… at first you fall apart; you feel completely broken and you get worse before you get better. But one day you start to see light at the end of the tunnel. Then before you know what’s happening you start emerging from the other side. It happens slowly; in small steps; but it does happen.
Something else happens as well, though: as you emerge you realise that you don’t know who you are anymore.
You hear people say things about you and it’s like listening to another language. You don’t understand what they’re saying or who they’re talking about. Then it dawns on you that perhaps they’re talking about you, only it’s not a “you” that you recognise. Certainly not one with all those positive qualities that people talk about.
My therapist once talked to me about post-traumatic growth I was inspired by the idea of positive personal change. I thought, “Yes! I want some of that please!” though I never knew how to get it. Now I’m starting to realise it’s not something you can “get”… it’s something that somehow magically happens as you emerge from the dark tunnel.
It’s a little like waking from a deep sleep. At first you stumble around all foggy headed, unable to engage in the world around you anymore than you could when asleep. I’m hoping that there’s also an awakening that helps you discover who you are. Real proof, if you like, that tomorrow does come.