When you think about the phrase “sense of self”, what image does that conjure up for you? Maybe you think about yourself, and what your place is in the world. Maybe you think about your child and about how they see themselves. Or maybe you’re like me and think of someone going off to “find themselves”.
Just like all other young people (well, I imagine it to be just like all other young people) I didn’t have a good “sense of self” when I was younger. In my twenties, and even into my thirties, I would say I was still trying to “find myself”. I knew what I wanted to do– I had always known that, I wanted to be a teacher. But did I know who I was? Did I know who I was- away from other people? Did I have a strong sense of me outside of who I was with or who I interacted with? I don’t think I did. In fact, I think I’m still working on that-finding my sense of self.
Well, no- I shouldn’t say that. I found it- my sense of self- at one point. I found it when I first started having children. I knew who I was then. I knew that I was somebody’s mom. I knew that I was helping to raise this little human that would someday grow up to become a big human- with his own sense of self, his own sense of direction.
And you know what happened?
What happened, is that after my second son turned two, we got a “beat-you-to-the-ground” diagnosis. My son was diagnosed with Autism. PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified) to be exact. A diagnosis that doesn’t even exist anymore since the diagnostic criteria has changed since then. Regardless- it was Autism. My son had Autism.
And that- in that very second… in the very second after the words were spoken to me- my “sense of self” changed. My sense of self no longer became about who I was in relation to everyone around me. It became who my son was in relation to all that were around him. My life, and my perspective on life, was changed in that very instant- forever.
Moving forward, my life was very focused on him.
Too focused- but I didn’t know it.
Or maybe- I didn’t want to see it.
Or maybe- I couldn’t see it.
Or maybe-I wasn’t ready to see it.
It doesn’t matter. I had lost my sense of self and it took me a really, really long time to get it back. And now? Well, I may have lost it again. Just a little bit.
I am again figuring out who I am- away from others.
I’m figuring out who I really am and what I want and need in my life. I’m remembering my “sense of me” before the trauma of that beat-me-down diagnosis. I’m finding the “sense of me” since my “cheese got moved“, and I’m remembering that I have my own self, my own being, and my own way of doing things that is beautiful and wonderful and valuable- to the right people.
At this point, you may be wondering why I chose to write this blog post. Why did I put this out into the world?
I wrote it because I want people to understand.
I want people who my be struggling with their own “beat-you-down-diagnosis” to understand that your sense of self is still there. It’s still there- and even if it might be “on hold” for a little bit while you figure things out, it’s still there. I don’t want you to lose sight of it like I did.
So really? Truly? Start with where you are. Remember your sense of self when you are ready. Remember that you have your own way of being. Your own way of doing things that is beautiful and wonderful and valuable- to the right people.
And if you need help to find yourself again? Or if you just need to know if you’re with the right people?
Just let me know.
I can help.