Letting Go Of Who I Was

I saw this blog post on my Real Beauty Is... newsletter, and it really struck me how much I've been letting go of who I was in recovery.

Danielle Boonstra writes:

I used to identify myself with so many external things. This, I thought, helped me to know my worth in the world. I would question "Is my job good enough? Do I make enough money? Do we live in a nice enough neighbourhood? Am I smart enough?". Of course all of this was meaningless. Being in competition leads to misery every single time. Life is not a race.

And so I work on shedding these things. I get better and better at it everyday. Who I really am is not concerned with how much money I make. My authentic self is concerned only with creative expression of my divine purpose! As I let go of the labels I used to love, I become more me...the me who will not be defined because I am constantly evolving!

Ah, that old tired game of Compare and Despair. The truth is this: I often don't have a clue of who I am, where I stand, or if I'm "good" at something because I'm always comparing myself to others. How could I be smart when there was an 11-year-old mathematical prodigy in my calculus class? How could I be pretty if I had a zit? How could I be a good friend if I got mad at my friends? There was always someone nicer and smarter than me. Which was probably true, it's just that the big cognitive distortion was that this meant that I couldn't be nice or smart. If I wasn't the best, it didn't matter.

I can has perfectionism?

In a way, letting go of who I was is somewhat easy because I didn't really know who I was. Sure, I could find adjectives to describe myself that weren't all negative, and I'm guessing that some of those adjectives are still the same (curious, moody, funny). But mostly, this letting go of who I was means letting go of that insecure girl who needed others to define her. Who was so unsure of herself that she hauled out any and all yardsticks necessary to try and figure out where she stood. I'm still getting out the yardstick too damn often, and it's not helping me or anyone else. I used to get rather angry at that girl for (among other things) being "stupid" enough to get an eating disorder and then being too stupid to get herself out.

The simple fact is I can't really hate the girl who didn't know any better than to go yardstick hunting before she could walk--she was doing the best she could. And even if I could hate her, I just don't have the energy. So I'm letting go of that insecure girl, the girl who cared so damn much how she stacked up and where she stood. I don't know that I can't be defined, as Boonstra says, but I do know that the actual definition itself isn't a tool with which to measure myself. It's a definition. It can change. So can I.


Melissa said...

This strikes so many chords with me (again!) and reminds me of my own desperate seeking for descriptors that I could hang my sense of self on. A kind of grabbing at identities that could be quantified or made tangible or be proven, even if I never quite believed (which is a whole other subject in itself!...) -

I think letting go of the need for definitions and accepting ourselves is key to recovery. I'm not sure how to do this at the moment, nor know whether it is a feeling more than a process, but thanks for reminding me of the shift that it's so important for me to make.

We lose ourselves in trying to be all things to everybody -

(p.s. There's lots of lovely adjectives that spring to mind when I see you on my twitter stream or read your posts. They're not linked to yardsticks, but to my enjoyment of reading your words and the sense of such a lovely person that they always contain)

Angela E. Gambrel Lackey said...

I'm glad you're letting go of that insecure girl. Because you are much better than that.

You will find who you are, and will discover what a wonderful person you really are. You are now on a journey of discovery! How exciting!!!

marcella said...

Carrie - somewhat off topic but I've lost your e-mail address! Can you let me know where we can find your "10 things you should know..." post

Maddi said...

Ah, this is me exactly! Only I lost myself and found God, which in a way is finding out who I am, and who He is. There are two things we will never have all the answers to: Who WE are, and who GOD is. The reason is things are always changing. But part of growing up and accepting who you are is learning to be ok with those changes. It all takes time, it is something we learn to do every day of our lifes. :) Thanks for the post, your insight is really amazing! :)

jpetroroy said...

I've starting reading your blog again recently and am struck again at personal and universal you make your experiences feel. I'm so sorry about your relapse, but am so proud of how you're rebounding and learning what are the right steps for you.

Hope to get back in touch,

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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Have any questions or comments about this blog? Feel free to email me at carrie@edbites.com

nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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