Who am I?

Support Group Time: Do you know who you are?

I don't.

I've been away visiting family for the last week and a half. Before we left, I thought I knew who I was. A calm confident woman who was working to get healthy. A decent mom, but not great. An ok wife. A great cook. Pretty good at farm life. Not too bad of a writer. A good friend to those who need it. Huge sensitive heart who cries at the drop of a hat.

But hadn't really cried in quite a while.

As I write this, I've got buckets coming down.

When I got around family, I wasn't me. I became the kid again. And I took on the personalities of people around me. I became insecure, trying to find my voice.

One relative: She's always talked with a particular lisp, and been self-absorbed. Over the last 10 years, she's succumbed to a disease that wouldn't have been bad (I have the same one), except it got her hooked on pain meds and is exacerbated by insulin-dependent diabetes. Now she 5'8", shrinking, and about 100 pounds, if that. She's a skeleton with skin. Her teeth seem shorter, her hair is limp and she walks like she's 95 (and she's only 50). But I ended up, after just the first 20 minutes, talking and gesturing like her. (Don't get me wrong, I love her dearly.)

Who am I?

Another relative: He's a very strong man. Always in the right. Confident. Has known who he was ever since I can remember. But his birthday was a big milestone this year, and doesn't move extremely well any more. Hasn't changed him except physically because he doesn't let anything change the inside of him. He's always been overweight (over 300 probably) but is gradually losing and is looking better. Except for the walking. After one day with him, I was gesturing like him, and finding similar phrases coming out of my mouth. And loving / missing him even more.

Who am I?

More relatives: Saw a cousin hadn't seen in 20 or so years. Same person inside and out, but kicked a few addiction problems WITHOUT changing the wonderful core of who he was. Amazing. Then at the big family reunion, I found myself becoming 12 again. Gangly. Awkward. Afraid to say anything for fear that my voice wouldn't be heard, or I'd say something stupid. Hell, my Hubby and Kid did better than I did at this thing!

A shrinking violet, someone once called me.


I felt so left out. Like the family I'd grown up with moved on, leaving me behind. People told me they admired my weight loss and the way I live my life, out in the country with our little farm, but I didn't feel it was genuine. After all, I'm 12 years old again, right? Just a stupid kid with braces, acne, a controlling insane mother and aspirations to become the youngest opera singer at the Metropolitan Opera. Genuine admiration for me? Giving up all of my dreams and just sitting around all day on my butt, collecting eggs, milking the goat, killing my fruit bushes and homeschooling my sweet but weird kid? Genuine admiration?

But it probably was.

Don't know anymore.

I had been doing well with my eating up until this point, but as soon as I left them, I binged. Pigged out. Got white castle cheeseburgers and big red (cream soda) that I'd always loved and got whenever I went back home. They didn't even taste that good this time (hell, I make better burgers than those!), but still, I didn't stop at just one. Afterwards, I ate a big bowl of cereal and had leftover b-day cake and doughnut and ... yep, I ate. Because I was a 12-year-old kid with a big fat slice of DENIAL.

Who am I?

I'm thinking that if I'm so easily influenced by people I haven't seen in years, and if I'm reduced to tears because one family member loves another one more than me, then my own personality and sense of self must not be very strong. That I haven't figured out the "WHO AM I?" part yet. I haven't done my work ... who I am, what I feel about me, or how I relate to the world. Or to family. Or me.

If I had, then I wouldn't have merged personalities with others, right?

So who am I?

Over the next few days or weeks or months, I'm gonna explore who I am. And I'm gonna blog about it. I need to write about it.

Hope you don't get bored.

But ... don't feel sorry for me. Please! This is a good thing. I'm feeling positive!


Kimberly said...

I can really relate to this. It happens to me every time. The emotional part of us is just a really weird place to be.

just a fat girl running said...

Funny you ask us to question "Who am I?" today. Just asking myself this morning. Do any of us really know? Life is a journey. We are all ever changing, moving forward, or sometimes going back. The trick is embracing the experience of life and trying not be beat our own asses in the process. Yesterday was a BAD day for me. I probably ate 1000 calories in purely candy. Even now as I type that I want to kick my own ass, but that would inevitably drive me back to the candy bowl tonight...so I get on here and puke my guts out into blogland. All that is to say YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Thank you for sharing yourself with us. The accountability is wonderful!

The Incredible Shrinking Woman said...

I ask that a lot too. It's kind of irritating at this point. But I keep morphing and changing. I am finding out a lot more in my 30s than I ever wanted to know in my 20s.
I am looking forward to reading more about your journey of self discovery!!! (Unless you start doing that mirror thing from Fried Green Tomatoes. Then I am O U T. ;)

Twix said...

I find myself shifting into old roles when I'm exposed to family for an extended period of time. It's distressing, I understand. I think this exploration you are going to do is a good one. :D

Call me Ishmael said...

Hey Vee -- am glad you see this as a positive thing, because it IS. Tuning into these responses and trying to sort through them is an indication of how far you have come -- how much less you rely on food to bury and tamp down your emotions. At least, that's how I see it, because I used to do the same exact thing (every visit to my family's house set off a binge) and it took me a while to get a handle on how I was feeling, and it took another while to be able to get through the feelings, and then to understand that maybe those feelings would never go away, but hey, I could take a deep breath and just deal with it. And if I felt insecure at a family gathering, well shoot...it didn't mean I had to dive into the potato salad. And even as this holiday season approaches I am thinking of how I'll handle family time without big binges and I know that there will be some strong emotional reactions. It's just how it is. I'm glad you are tuning in to your responses, look forward to reading your blog postings about it. Probably will be very helpful for me to read how you feel about these things. Different perspectives can help so much with our own insights. Keep up the good work Vee!