Where do you fit? What are you good at? What do you love to do?
These questions appear to be easy to answer. But I wonder, are they? Have you been given the freedom to explore in life? Do you have the confidence to do something even though you might fail to try to achieve it? How well do you really know yourself?
I remember being in college and listening to constant chatter around me. Sally was in love and planning the rest of her life. Bob laughed loudly as he told stories from his childhood. Mark was intensely focused on his goals to be a doctor. Heather had known her entire life that she wanted to teach children. It’s very difficult healing from abuse for anyone.
I was lost. I had no idea who I really was, what I wanted for the future, or how any of that related to my past. My confusion felt like a weight that I was forced to carry around. I needed someone to tell me what to do, and I would just do it. Anyone? Please?
My problem wasn’t hard to diagnose. I had no confidence in myself. Although I had figured out how to be good at what I was told to do, I had no idea how to look internally and find my passions.
My situation is not uncommon amongst survivors of abuse. Childhood abuse survivors focus on safety and survival; exploring isn’t natural. Domestic abuse survivors question everything. Was their abuser right? His words hurt; who am I? Taking risks and possibly failing is something they may no longer have the confidence to do. Survivors of emotional abuse have had their identities altered by someone who declared horrible things about their inner self. Finding their passions means looking at the words spoken and facing the truth, versus lies.
The journey to becoming you is about healing. It is about trusting that you are important and that you can explore, try, fail, and look inside to see beauty. This is not a journey that requires perfection. You can grow and learn to love yourself more and more each day.
Let’s start today with one small step. Take a piece of paper and divide it into three columns:
Not My Story
I Don’t Know
Now, write pieces of your story. Your story is created by the decisions you make. You did not make the decision to be abused.
In the my story column, write things you love to do. Write decisions you have made because they were important to you. Write things you know you are good at.
Be careful! Your story is yours! It is not the story of the decision someone else made to hurt you. As you run into painful memories that may have changed your life, give yourself the freedom to remove all ownership for that decision. Place it in the Not My Story column. Yes, it happened. But, NO, it is not your story.
This exercise will help you begin to learn who you are. And, when you know this, you can begin to live in your passions and better understand where you fit in life.
You will have questions. You won’t know if some areas are your story or not. Don’t worry about those today. Simply place them in the I Don’t Know column. You can do this exercise again in the future and those areas may become more clear. It is a journey. You don’t need perfection today.
If this post is helpful to you and you would like more ideas on understanding who you really are, please let me know. I am happy to expand topics that are helpful for you.
You may also read about Healing Hearts