Identity….How we perceive ourselves, and how we present ourselves to others. In my experience, the first informs the second, and the whole thing feels incredibly mutable.
I have been a mother for 18 years, almost 19 if you count the time in utero. The trajectory of my life changed the moment those two lines turned blue, and it has continued to change almost every day since.
I was scared, terrified actually. I didn’t know if I had the skill to be a mother, or the selflessness, or the patience, or even the desire. I loved freedom, and spontaneity, and being guided by my own interests. I loved travel, and new experiences and dancing till the break of dawn. I loved my life, but also knew that I was ready for a change, I just didn’t know what it was. I had booked a oneway ticket to Costa Rica for some soul searching. I had no plan, just to be in the jungle, learn Spanish, and feel into what comes next.
I never made it on the trip, life has a way of providing exactly what we need in every given moment. My identity as a party girl changed soon after peeing on that stick. I embraced the new identity of mother, creator of life. I took it very seriously, read everything I could, and treated the journey with great reverence. I then became wife, stay at home mother, then divorcee and back to independent woman/hairdresser.
The stay at home partner thing was short lived, but I embraced it with fervor. I have always been so curious about mind over matter, and our ability to create our reality with our beliefs. I became a devotee of creation through self-will. I tried to morph my identity into some version of Martha Stuart meets Carrol Brady sprinkled with Gaia loving earth mother, and artist. It kinda fit, and kinda didn’t. The whole experience lasted a little over a year, and I began to recognize that there was more involved with identity than simply my will.
Single mother hairdresser became yoga teacher hairdresser, and then a handful of years later, wife once again. That birthed into mother of two, then later single mother of two along with the myriad of other perceptions I have held of myself. Things I BE-lived were indisputably true, like I am strong because I can do it all by myself, or I am valuable because people find me attractive, became indisputably false. In the moment, those felt like milestones; years logged on the planet has a way of providing perspective.
I am now in mid-life, and what I have identified as “me” is changing. My 18 year old daughter is leaving the nest, and on her way to her own grand adventure. My 25 year career as a hairdresser is winding down as I create space for the next phase of my journey of service. The man I thought I was going to spend my life with has been dead for five years, and I just realized that I have been believing an unconscious story that honoring him means holding some part of myself back from loving and trusting another. I am only really getting this on a visceral level, and I am just now surrendering to the truth that he is not coming back. This terrifies me, as I realize that embodying this creates a space for another, and also provides yet another opportunity to release an ill fitting identity.
I am left with the question of who am I in relation to nothing? When I am not a woman, or mother, a daughter or wife. When I am not a purveyor of beauty…when I am not a mystic, a teacher or an artist. What happens when I put all of the identities down and I simply reside with whats left. The present moment, without time, everywhere and nowhere, all at once. Will a new identity emerge, or do I get to live beyond constructs, beyond the illusion of definition?
I am grateful that I don’t have to know the answers to those questions, and that all will be revealed in perfect time…always is. In my incessant curiosity about what happens next, I am reminded to be here now. I am also reminded of my favorite words of wisdom gifted to me by my little brother.
”No matter what you are feeling, especially if it’s uncomfortable, feel it all the way. This moment will never be here again, and how often do you get to do this? Life is often boring, enjoy the contrast.”
Words to live by, love you Kalani Garcia! He has always been so wise.