Monday, December 4, 2017

Is 'Identity' Even a Thing?

"You're both the fire and the water that extinguishes it. You're the narrator, the protagonist, and the sidekick. You're the storyteller and the story told. You are somebody's something, but you are also your you." 
-Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green


I have trouble locating myself... Or, rather, I have trouble locating my self.

Who am I?

What am I?

Am I?

When trying to define myself, I cannot seem to come up with anything besides explanations of me relative to or in relation to other things and people. I am a wife. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am an IT worker. I like watching crime documentaries with my husband (I don't ever watch them on my own). I like to camp with my dad (I would likely NEVER camp alone). I like just hanging out with my friends. The only thing I can ever come up with that I like independently from other people or from roles I find myself in is that I like to read. But really, I think all the reading is just a way to escape... but I love it any way. I don't seem to have any interests of my own, you know?

Then I think that I could maybe define myself in terms of the sort of person I am. But that either ends up being very vague/general characteristics, or things that vary from day to day or even moment to moment: I am funny (sometimes). I am kind (almost always...). I am smart (except when I'm clearly an idiot). I am empathetic (except toward people that I think are assholes).

Maybe this is the case for everyone... maybe nobody has an actual concrete definition of their 'self'. It just feels like I ought to. Like I don't know who I am. I'm just sort of going with the flow.

When I get really caught up in this question, my thoughts start to get a little weirdly organized... like I'm narrating the story of my life in my head. I'm not exactly living my life, it's just a story I'm telling myself. And the story is never in present tense... always past or future:

I walked down the hall toward my office. I didn't want to be here, but I didn't want to be anywhere else either...

or

I will go home and I will find a way to relax. The apartment will be a mess, so once I get my head sorted out then I'll do some shores. Everything will be just fine.

I just feel sort of 'outside' of myself. I suppose it could just be mild dissociation. That's apparently a thing with BPD. It doesn't usually get very bad. Then again, now that I'm really thinking about it, I think the times it has been really bad tend to line up with my self-harm. Perhaps I should mention this to my therapist.

Whatever the case, the story I'm telling me about myself could use some work. Definitely short on character development.

It's turtles all the way down.

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