Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Who am I? Part 869?


twisted_personality__by_fridaythirteenth (DeviantArt.com)

Personality: the complex of characteristics that distinguishes an individual or a nation or group; especially : the totality of an individual’s behavioral and emotional characteristics.

Yesterday, I received an email that points to the very complexity of personality.

Quoted from email: “Last night, my roommate and I watched a home video of her when she was about 3. She is exactly the same, and we laughed about it.
I feel sometimes I have no idea what my “personality” is. I can remember bits and pieces of childhood, but not enough to really know “what I was like”….I DO remember always feeling like I was “too much”, my parents hated how much energy I had. so I changed myself. My eating disorder developed in pre-puberty, so thats a big time of identity formation. . . I have no idea what’s actually NATURAL for me personally. I have no idea if I like to talk or not. I’m used to forcing myself to talk and also forcing myself to be silent. Now, without the eating disorder, I feel that I don’t know what my actual personality is. ”

How familiar is this?  We developed a certain persona through the eating disorder.  For some of us, it was a way to interact with the world.  For some of us, it was a way to block the world out.  In all cases, we learned to deny who we were to fill a role, be it because we received message that we were too much or not enough or too loud or too quiet.  Or sometimes, just the vague concept that we just weren’t right somehow and damn, did we try hard to get it right through the eating disorder.

I know when I let go of the anorexia, I had no idea what I’d find.  Who I’d find.  Would I even like her?  Maybe there was a good reason that I hid her away all those years under a facade of thinness and denial? Maybe I should just go back to that facade, play the game, and be the good girl.

I’ve mentioned before that after I chose recovery, I went through one hell of a massive depression, a depression I knew was not bound to the Bipolar Disorder, but to that existential question of “Who am I?”  Because I honestly didn’t know.  And I really had no idea how to find out.

But I had a great therapist, one who pushed me pretty hard at times.  One who never let me take the easy way out.  And with his prompting, I just started doing.  Yes, that’s right.  I just used an awfully simple formula: Just do it.  Do you have a list of things that you’ve always wanted to do but never did because of the eating disorder?  Do them.  And then reflect on whether you actually liked doing them.  If you don’t like knitting, crocheting, sewing, jewelry making, painting, OR drawing, there’s a pretty good chance you’re not the artistic type.

But what we do is only part of who we are.  How do you act in certain social situations?  What type of social situations do you like?  Are you an extrovert or an introvert?  Are you an overall positive, happy-go-lucky kind of person or are you more realistic and grounded?  Do you have this drive inside of you to always get to the next level or are you more laid back?  Do you have this thirst for knowledge that pulls you to the library shelves or do you prefer to learn by experiencing things?  Is your idea of a perfect date slamming jello shots and singing karaoke or sitting in a coffee shop to the background of classical music?

I think these questions are more difficult to answer.  But similar to the first set of questions about what we do, we can find out the answers by trying out different roles.  I know that sounds similar to what we did when we were sick, playing a role, but this time it’s with the intention of finding out if it feels right or not.  When we were sick, how it felt didn’t matter as long as those around us were happy.  This time, if you try out a role and don’t like it, you don’t have to do it again.  Try journaling and purposefully reflecting on how you felt during certain situations during your day.  What made you the most comfortable?  When did you feel most alive?  When did you feel like a fish out of water?

The journal I mentioned in my last post is helping me answer some of these questions.  It’s approaching that question of Who are you? using art.  It’s a non-linguistic way to access our personalities.  There are also guided journals out there that don’t use art that you may want to consider if you feel blocked by a blank sheet of paper.

So my advice: experience and journal.  Do things.  And then reflect on them.  Write about whether or not they “fit.”  This is not a quick process.  In fact, I think it’s one that if we are interested in continuing to grow as human beings, is one that will continue throughout our lives.  At least, that’s my goal.

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May 22, 2010 - Posted by | Eating Disorders, identity, recovery | , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Trying so hard to get back into writing… doing… still fighting to figure out who i really am post-integration. some days i think i have a clue and others… it’s beyond grasp or comprehension.
    will look into that journal. looks like a good thing to try.

    Comment by marisa | May 24, 2010 | Reply

  2. You are doing some awesome work!!!

    Comment by The Binge Diary | June 4, 2010 | Reply


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