Who do you think you are?

happiness“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Are you happy being ‘you’? Do you have confidence in yourself and your abilities? Or have you become your own worst enemy by believing what others have labelled you?  So that instead of living your life as you the person you were meant to be, you are simply a reflection of someone else. If so, it’s time to find out who you really are.

I’ve always had difficulties with my identity. Being abandoned by my mum as an infant left me growing up with extreme insecurities about being unloved and unwanted. It changed how I perceived myself and the thought that I was worthless was reinforced by growing up with an abusing father. My dad defined me in terms that reflected his misogynistic attitudes,which as a child I accepted as truth. There was no-one else to tell me otherwise.

“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.” ~ Maya Angelou

It’s wasn’t simply the amount of derogatory traits that were attributed to me that caused the damage, it was the lack of anything positive or encouraging. The result was that for many years I really didn’t have a clue what I was supposed to say or do. I didn’t know what I liked or didn’t like. I didn’t know what I wanted out of life. Because I didn’t know who I was.

All that I knew was that I didn’t want to be me. I wanted to be someone else. The onset of depression in my younger years held me trapped in the view that I was never going to be pretty enough, thin enough, clever enough, confident enough. I was never going to be good enough for anything or anyone.  I lacked so much, yet everyone else seem to have what I desired.

So to numb the pain of the disappointment in being me and to help to manage the idea of being me for the rest of my life, I turned to alcohol. And for a while it worked. It gave me the confidence to be indifferent to my failings and took away my fears for the future.

Unfortunately, self-medicating led to addiction and over time the depression and alcoholism took over my life.Together with my lack of self-love I existed through others and allowed relationships to continue to define me. All to my detriment.

“True happiness is living life authentically.”                                                   ~ The Hurt Healer.

Perhaps you have also allowed past events to define you, or perhaps you used to feel you knew who you were but somehow your sense of self has disappeared over time? You can take on so many roles which meet the needs of others that your true identity is overwhelmed, leaving you mourning the loss of who you used to be,whilst your dreams and hopes have been abandoned.  Whatever your circumstances, maybe it is time to give the real you a chance to shine.

The turning point for me was a complete physical and mental breakdown. I could no longer go on existing as a product of my past. Enough of the fake smiles that covered the heartbreak. Enough of the false mask of confidence that hid the fear. Enough of the pretense. Enough of the uncertainty.  I had had enough of it all.

It was time to reclaim my life and find out who I really was. It was time to listen to my inner voice, nurture the child within and allow my authentic self to emerge. And in doing so I found out that I was everything I thought I wasn’t and a little bit more.

Refusing to enable my past to have power over my present, I was able to allow the real me to emerge. Initially the fears of who I had become revealed my rawness and vulnerability,, but over time my confidence and self-worth grew. No longer was I controlled by others.  No longer did I compare myself to others. After all the years of believing otherwise, I was okay being me.

“I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14

fearlessWith faith as my guide, I allowed my mind to explore, my heart to love and my soul to bloom. Faith taught me too that I am valuable and precious. And that even my failures have a purpose. My weaknesses have become my strengths and my imperfections have become my uniqueness.

Something I could never have conceived in those dark days was that I was ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.’ But to today I think am.

What about you? Who do you think you are?

43 thoughts on “Who do you think you are?

  1. You have been through so much Carolyn and come through as a ray of sunshine, giving hope to many others around the world. You are a natural heroine of our times and I feel blessed to be able to be graced with your presence. You are brave to share your journey with others and have an inner strength that is magnificent. I am pleased to say that I am happy with who I am but that wasn’t the case for years. I used to be heavily criticised for being myself and I didn’t know my purpose in life. Now I do know my purpose, to write and help others. I do a lot of things to please myself and make myself happy. I have been free from a person for 2 years, who was horrid to me. I feel that this is now my time for living. I am teaching Blogging as an aid to recovery from the 18th of November and will give your blog address to my students as an example of how blogging can help them to heal.

  2. Your faith shines through everything you write, Carolyn – I’m sure that radiance is what draws people to your blog and keeps us coming back. Always a tonic calling by the hurt healer – thank-you x

  3. It made me so sad to read about your mother and what happened when you were only a baby. But what a resilient and positive person you have grown up to be! I love the way you turned this into such a positive, hopeful message. Sending best wishes your way. 🙂

  4. The affect your childhood had on you is very similar to my own. I turned to drugs as a comfort and a way to cope. I became a “high performance drug addict”. I still cringe to this day with that concept. When I gave them up 13 years ago, the superficial life I’d been building completely fell apart and I was plunged into years of mental illness. It is only in the past year that I have started any kind of true recovery.

    Unfortunately, I did allow the past to define me, which I have just recently become aware of through the stories of some wonderful bloggers – you have just contributed to that!. Currently, I’m at that raw-vulnerable stage and completely struggling to find the ‘real me’.

    This is a very positive post, Carolyn, which couldn’t have come at a better time.

    • Congratulations Cat on having the strength to face your vulnerability. I know that rawness can be so frightening at times, but your recovery will reward you. And I have no doubt that the ‘real you’ will be so much more than you ever imagined! Wonderful to connect with you Cat and I’m looking forward to continuing our journeys to find our authentic selves together. 🙂

  5. > even my failures have a purpose
    Well put.

    In life, time and again, the trick is to remember that we’re our most important meaning maker and, in the end, the most important director of our experiences.

  6. I have yet to discover who I am. There are days when my spirit is high and I think I know just where I’m going. Yet notice, I still don’t say that I know who I am. Other days everything is befuddled.

  7. Hi Carolyn, Wow, I really was taking back by your article. I like it when you said that you Refuse to let the past have any power over your present. The past is the past, it’s done and there is nothing we can do to change it. I am delighted that you have found the real you and I know that there is greatness in each and everyone of us who walks on this earth. Very Inspiring article Carolyn and Thanks ever so much for sharing 😉

  8. Powerful words Carolyn, Thank You. I come from a generation where Love, Affirmation and Encouragement were hardly expressed. So I had to carve my own way. And of course I became Me through the great ” I AM ” . There is wonder working power in the blood of Jesus Christ.

  9. Dear Carolyn,

    Your story, every time I hear another chapter of it, brings me to my knees. I feel such gratitude for the Life and Love I hear in your voice, coming from such a place and time of deep darkness.

    Being raised by a misogynist says so much to me… your mother couldn’t take it – she aborted her mother’s role. I don’t know her story, but I know the damage living with a .misogynist can do.

    When I see your smiling, glowing face and I hear the parts of your story about your daughters and husband today, I want to bow my head and just sit humbly before God and adore Him for all that He’s done for you.

    I can only imagine the more Life, the more Love, that will come in the remaining years of your life, and how it will multiply with grandchildren and great-grand’s… you’ve created a new family legacy and the River of God is flowing through every part of your family tree bringing fruitfulness and joy. This brings me to my feet now… like the images you’ve used in this article of the girl raising her hands in joy and freedom…praising God for the the goodness in your life, in your words, and in your heart for us – thanks!!!

  10. Carolyn, what an inspiring post. It is amazing what can happen in our lives when we turn them over to the Lord and truly see ourselves as His children. Today I am a daughter of the King of kings!

  11. I’m convinced the process of “learning who we are” is part of a lifelong journey. But some of us are given a smoother path than others, Carolyn. I honor how you have traveled yours and found such a place of peace. The good news is that the journey isn’t over … and that there is more joy and inner strength yet to discover!

  12. Each of us who are living will eventually experience some form of fear and anger it is all part of life. For me it was easy as I am a follower of Jesus Christ when the trauma hit (a semi-truck) I started praying. It took three years for GOD to answer my prayer 100% but he did and what I learned in this journey is I am strong and GOD is stronger than me as he carried me when I thought he was missing in action. Two times the pain was so great I thought I can not go on and two times GOD sent me the strength to endure the bottom and pit of depression. GOD is amazing and I am grateful I was already a child of Jesus Christ as I understood the power of my mind and that the mind is the battlefield I had to make sure everything I was listening to and reading was positive and powerful. No negative energy could come into my mind, body and soul and I work hard to keep my life pointed in the direction I want it to go. I call trolls the problems that come up and try to distract us and bring us down. I give no time to these things and move on to enjoying my life each special day one at a time, starting with waking up in the morning and thanking GOD for the blessings he will shine on me today. Great post! Melody

    • Melody I love your testimony. You are proof that no matter what comes against us, with faith we can overcome. You are so positive and your experiences have made you so strong. That is so wonderful to read! Take care 🙂

  13. ***the child within and allow my authentic self to emerge. And in doing so I found out that I was everything I thought I wasn’t and a little bit more.**

    Simply beautiful.

    Oh, My, You Emerge Fully, C. Xxx

  14. Carolyn, what a beautifully insightful post! I think most of us are (naturally) defined by our past, we develop into what we’re fed with, and grow absorbing our environment. There comes a stage when we experience an inner awakening through a word, an event, that makes us react instinctively and we begin to discover who we are and what we’re made of. Sometimes we bloom into who we truly are, sometimes the daily pressures get to us, making us regret things, or just not notice, depending on what we are going through.

    For me, I grew up in a certain type of household and had some notions. Then I experienced rebellion at something as a little girl, triggered by something I wanted more badly than the restrictions placed. I may not have got what I wanted, but you know what they say about a mind stretched and never going back to its original dimensions? I had seen the path. And it was only a matter of time before I recognized my individuality. And so I gathered strength over the years and yes, like you, today, I like to think I am wonderfully made.

    Hugs! Missed you! Where is the book, Carolyn?

    • Hello Vidya, I love your wise words. And your notion of a mind stretched and it never going back to its original dimensions is so true. As we move forward we grow. Your strength is evident in your posts and you truly shine.
      Thank you for your encouragement too with the book. I am looking for the right publishers at the moment. I will keep you updated. 🙂 Hugs! x

  15. Carolyn, I can relate to most of what you’ve said especially “It wasn’t simply the amount of derogatory traits that were attributed to me that caused the damage, it was the lack of anything positive or encouraging.” When you look at facts, I didn’t have this terrible upbringing, but yet I didn’t have this amazing upbringing. I never felt like I was good enough so I was constantly putting myself down. It was a roller coaster of emotions and I turned to boys and sex to distract me from my issues. It became a game. Can I get this guy in bed? And then how soon can I kick him out of my life?

    A few years ago, I became angry. I wanted to know why I was this way. Why did I hate myself so much? Where was the love, happiness and joy that everyone talked about?

    And I had a turning point. It didn’t happen overnight, and it was a process. And I’ve come to terms with who I am and I love myself. It’s crazy because I never thought it would happen.

    Now I teach women how to love themselves, find their happiness, and become stronger women. It’s just beautiful.

    “True happiness is living life authentically.” ~ The Hurt Healer

    • What a fantastically honest share Keri. I’m sure there will be many who will be able to relate and be encouraged that there is a way out of that cycle of self-destruct. It’s so wonderful to read that you have come to love yourself. That is powerful!

  16. It almost goes without saying how wonderful you pen your thoughts across, and how much I identify with what you talk about. It’s funny how your posts always seem to be a certain time ahead of me on my journey. It’s like these markers you leave for some of us to find later. While I may see the light up ahead, I don’t fully get it until I am closer to it and then start to understand it and see things much brighter.

    The idea of “Who am I?” or “Who am I becoming?” is nothing new to me, and others on the spiritual path. It’s only now in my third year of recovery that I am starting to explore things, only starting to get a glimpse of potential in my life, only starting to see glimpses of who I can be, who I was created by the Creator. And much of that is through letting a lot of things go – old ideas, thoughts, habits. Walking through fear, standing with conviction, bending with empathy and love. These are the things that help strip the old me and refurbish and bring out the real me. The me I still have no clue where it’s supposed to be and look like. But the further I get away from the old me, the better.

    I am me right now, where I am meant to be. I love the “imperfections becoming my uniqueness”. That’s a wonderful perspective. I must carry that one with me.

    Thank you for this, Carolyn.


    • Thank you Paul, for your generous and genuine comments. I think that alcoholics in recovery share the same journey of discovery when they give up the bottle that masked the real self. It can be so frightening in the beginning but then we realise that actually we are okay. I couldn’t agree with you more about distancing yourself between the old and the new.
      Isn’t it good to say goodbye to the past and welcome in the present? I love how you say you are right where you are meant to be. That speaks volumes of how far you have come.
      So good to know you Paul,

  17. YES!!! and Amen. I enjoyed reading this Carolyn! My fave lines: “Refusing to enable my past to have power over my present” because God has empowered us to choose. We get to choose our personal heaven or hell. We don’t have to give in to the foolishness. Thanks for these hopeful words!

  18. I am still learning who I am and it is a far more difficult (and rewarding) process than I ever could have imagined. I somehow thought that things would be clear as I started to take an interest in myself but what I am having to come to terms with is that life (including me) is full of greys – that I am uncovering myself layer by layer and that sometimes those layers overlap and intermingle and that’s all part of me and it’s all okay.

    • I think your last phrase is so empowering – ‘it’s all okay.’ When you reach that point of acceptance that not everything has to be black or white, perfect or imperfect, you can appreciate the beauty of greys and the wonders of those layers. It’s good to be okay!

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