Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Know Thyself


One of the issues I’m wrestling with lately is the profound personality changes I suspect have occurred in me over the past few years – and specifically over the past 14 months. I sometimes look into myself and am astonished, confused and yes, even appalled at the person I am becoming.

I don’t recognize her you see.

While I am cognizant that we are all somewhat blind when it comes to truly assessing our own traits and idiosyncrasies, I think most of us have a fairly balanced grasp of the type of person we are. I know that I was intimately acquainted with the myriad faces of s. over the years, and while age and new experiences offered insight and shed new light on certain personality quirks and self-knowledge provided growth and change, the essence of self largely remained intact.

Hot tempered, - √
Open – √
Naive (read STUPID) - √
Kind – √
Empathetic – √
Too bossy – √
Ambitious – √
Family-oriented – √
Sensual – √
Sexual – √
Nurturing - √
Fragile – √

and a myriad of other descriptive traits that could be applied and in most cases, would be concurred with by intimate friends and family.

While I’ve spoken about change and how most of us struggle with the adjustments and new mindsets required to accommodate the new realities, only recently have I come to understand how catastrophic change can impact the essence of an individual’s concept of self.

I think it is human nature for us to cling to the concept of self that we internalized and grew into from an early age – simply put, each of us needs to have something concrete in terms of how to define ourselves. It focuses us, keeps us anchored to reality, gives us a starting point as it were from which to launch our interactions with other individuals.

I realized recently that certain inalienable traits I thought intrinsic to who I am, are not.

I think disillusionment, stress, rage and many, many years of being undermined, reviled and despised have taken their toll and changed – perhaps inexorably – who I am.

And I don’t like the new me.

Loss of faith, the rewriting of history, new viewpoints, having my weaknesses emphasized and pointed out again and again have eaten away a concept of self I thought inviolable. I have developed a façade that protects me but which is alien to the nature of what I used to be. For stupidly or not, I have been hurt – deeply and profoundly at times – in the past but always managed to find a wellspring of compassion and forgiveness that allowed me to move forward, to forgive (if not forget), to continue in life without bitterness or regret over actions done and finished with.

But I find myself frozen behind a wall I cannot – and will not – break.

I cannot seem to find the compassion always there before when a tormented soul would strike out and wound me – compassion and an understanding of their pain and what is causing them to wound the thing they love – and made it possible to embrace them despite the hurt I myself was experiencing. I was, at the heart and soul of me, a healer.

But I find myself frozen these past few months, caught in stone, looking cautiously outside a small crack but quickly withdrawing at the most tentative of approaches, not finding in myself the will to venture out, to expose my vulnerabilities yet again.

And I don’t recognize that person.

The one who finds it safer to crouch behind the safe, smooth walls of indifference and refusal to trust, the small hidden mouse who finds it preferable to feel nothing than suffer again the pain of disillusionment and disappointment, the little hurt creature who would rather fade away than try, uselessly, again to make some kind of impact on a situation she finds impossible to believe will be resolved.

And in so doing, knowing I inflict pain on someone that continues to mean so much to me is confusing and provoking yet seemingly impossible to circumvent.

And slowly, inexorably I feel the traits which I cherished and held dear fading… a dying of self that is frightening in its implications.

Hot tempered, - X
Open – X
Naive (read STUPID) – X not so much anymore
Kind – dependent on situation and person
Empathetic – to friends and children, continuing
Too bossy – √
Ambitious – X
Family-oriented – √
Sensual – X
Sexual – X
Nurturing – X – only to certain individuals
Fragile – √√√….

I guess the question, for me, the most profound one – is this permanent? Is this who I am becoming? Or is it a rational reaction to a series of irrational and wounding events in a life never smooth, never balanced? And just how much will can I find in myself to return to a person with whom I am comfortable under the skin? Someone I can LIKE?

9 comments:

M:e said...

Do you remember a posting Radha wrote recently about spring and new shoots. I remember thinking at the time about how, as living creatures, we need to be nurtured, or at least be in a benign environment, in which to grow and flourish.

Its something I'm starting to piece together bits on for some of my off blog work. Plant's need to be in the right soil in order to grow to their full potential...and, preferably, they need the nurturing qualities of sunlight and rain, and not too much buffetting by the wind when they're at their most fragile.

I think that can translate so easily to us. At periods of growth and change we need nurturing and nourishment through the love and support of our family, friends and partners. When we are strong, we can stand some buffetting by the winds of life, but those same winds can damage us at our weaker moments.

I see you give lots of nurturing to those around you across 'cyberia'. Make sure you're don't plant yourself too far behind the wall that you're unable to benefit from what others can give back to you.

love and hugs xxx

littleone said...

no smart answers to this blog selkie..

because the question you ask:
"And just how much will can I find in myself to return to a person with whom I am comfortable under the skin? "

really can only be answered by you..

how much are you willing to fight for that person??

how much are you willing to sacrifice for that person??

the answer lies within you...only within in you...

BUT i am here .. with an open heart and ears and big shoulders ... you know my email if you need to talk/rant/dump.

morningstar (owned by Warren)

Anonymous said...

We all change. I don't have answers but we are all seeking unconditional acceptance from others and permission to be mutually nurtured. You are that to me. --Tallgrass

Amber said...

You are in fluctuation, it's uncomfortable and that's why you don't like yourself right now. Understandable.

You will change, everyone/everything changes. I've been where you are and just being self-aware as you are is a huge help.

{{{{hugs}}}}

Buffalo said...

Wasn't it Sartre who stated that we are the sum and total of our experiences?

I believe that to be true. I also believe that, even more importantly, we are also the sum and total of how we react to those experiences.

When we feast from the tree of knowledge it is inevitable some of the fruit will be bitter. If we stop eating because of a bitter fruit soon we will die.

The choice is always up to us.

Gillette said...

Ohmydearone...

I thought and thought after reading this on how to respond.

Then I went into my heart and felt.

And this Tantric practice I developed came to me in a flash:

I want to find you. Then I want to sit down on the ground, cradle you close to my chest, stroke your hair, rock you and sing you lullabies of how loved you are.

Liras said...

Oh sweet Sea Nymph.

Nothing in nature can live and thrive without change.
You are changing, growing. As all living things do.

It is natural to try to protect yourself. One day, you will find that you can care but it does not hurt. I have reached that place in life with so people and I am tremendously glad for it.

Same way the grass bends to the wind but does not break or shred.

I hope you can return to your sea, so to speak and gain strength to embrace the new you.

We will like her. How could we not?

runzwithknives said...

I hope you don't mind offering a perspective. I came here by way of M:e.

The last time, over a period of about 2 years, was the "break" point. I shut down as my marriage and all that went with it dissolved. For the third time.

As I built my wall again background personality traits became hyper-amplified. I became an intolerable bitch. My days were filled with rage directed at myself and everyone in my path in various ways.

At the same time I was also navigating a low grade depression.

We all have a full range of emotions and potential personalities within us. And they move back and forth within us depending on life events. We are very protective of ourselves.

It's taken a lot of long meditations and practice to bring me back to center. First I had to tear down that wall and then put away the sword. It was only then could I open enough to heal the hurt and fear, and allow "me" to come back into the forefront.

The me who came back? She's changed in a lot of ways...some subtle and some not so subtle...she's still changing. I like her and that's all that counts.

You will get there. You'll like her too.

Love and Light.

selkie said...

thank you , everyone for your incredibly kind comments and unstinting support; the various insights have engendered MORE musings in me ... stay tuned for a blog coming soon.