Who am I? I bet many people have asked this question at some time or another, and if you’re anything like me you might have asked it hundreds of times. It’s a question that has haunted me over the years and still does sometimes, although now I have a better idea of who I am. In answer to this question I could answer the following:
I am…a mother, a single parent, a mentally ill person, a witch, a shaman, a graduate, a woman, an introvert, a friend, a teacher, a writer, a loner, a priestess, a flower-child…but do these things really show who ‘I’ am or are they just labels I, or others, pin on myself in order to describe myself. Personally I think they are mere labels and although I dislike labels they are needed in order to make sense of the world. Us humans label everything don’t we. Yes, I am all these things but I am more too. I am more than the labels I give myself or that others give me.
You see the real me is a spirit having a human experience, and not a human with a spirit. I guess you might say my humanness is just a vehicle for who I really am, which is spirit. However, we humans have an ego and its job is to construct a framework for that spirit. Of course the spirit doesn’t really need this but as it’s having a human experience it is needed for that. So I use labels in order to try to make sense of myself and others in relation to me. I label others too, in order to try to make sense of them. Sometimes the labels stick and we tend to define ourselves as them. For example, taking my label of someone who has mental health problems. There are times when this is all I can see about myself, it becomes my whole definition of myself and that causes me a great deal of depression and anxiety. It doesn’t help that I am a mental health service user and so this definition is re-inforced by the profession.
However, I know that I’m not just that, or any other the other labels I’ve mentioned. You see I am every potentiality and possibility. It’s only me who restricts myself. I can ‘be’ anything I want to be if I really wanted to be that enough. I could be a brain surgeon if I really wanted (and studied for years) but that wouldn’t really describe ‘who’ I am, it would just be another label. Who I really am is Spirit, a spirit, a soul and that needs no labels…I am who I am! I am all things, or have the potential to be all things. I’m not just talking about myself here, I believe this is a universal truth that applies to everyone.
It’s often hard to separate ourselves from what we do, or what we are labelled. We identify so much with what we do, and the labels that we become completely confused as to who we really are. When a person asks ‘who are you?’ we might sometimes be lost for words and end up asking ourselves the same question with a quizzical look on our faces. Or we might answer…I’m a doctor, I’m a mother or something like that and even that feels unsatisfying. It feels as though we are selling ourselves short. When talking about this topic in my therapy group I often feel angry that who I am (or who anybody is) is reduced to mere labels and job descriptions. I feel people are completely missing the point but then I have to realise that not everyone feels the same way I do about spirit. It’s quite frustrating actually but I tend to not say anything because I am usually shut down by the therapists. Trouble is, with most kinds of therapy the body and mind is divorced from spirit and that just doesn’t deal with the whole person does it?
Sometimes I forget I’m a spirit having a human experience and then I feel flat, directionless, depressed and completely unmotivated. I waste time, spend a lot of time sleeping and sometimes even become unwell mentally. I guess I become superficial, as though I’m just a thin shell with nothing inside. This used to be how I felt all the time years ago, as if I were merely going through the motions of life. Gradually these times have become less, or don’t last as long, but they still happen from time to time. Thankfully I am now aware that spirit kicks me swiftly in the back side and sets me on the right track again. Of course I don’t always learn my lessons willingly, quite often I have a teenage temper tantrum or a bit of a pity-party but I’ve learnt to recognise these times and work through them with more kindness now. It’s not always easy though and I still struggle but I think that is part of spirit’s experience of being human. It’s meant to be!
Then there are times when I shy away from explaining who I am because I think my answer will be viewed as completely kooky. to some it probably will be but I need to try to hold on to the fact that it is my authentic answer, an honest answer. It is my reality but my reality is not the same as everyone elses. We each have our own reality, and realities, and that is fine and as it should be too. Who we really are cannot really be put in a neat little box, or defined.