“Oh, I know myself,” is a popular cheeky retort when something risky, or silly, is suggested. And many of us walk around telling people we are Introverts or Extroverts, or that we are INTP or ISFP, after having done a bunch of quizzes on-line. Some of us go beyond the Internet for that information and undergo psychological testing to find out. And then some of us insist they do things a certain way because they’re a Capricorn. All this tells us that we’re eager to get to know ourselves, define ourselves, and be able to predict or explain our behaviors based on those definitions. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a natural desire to want to know yourself—it allows us some control over our lives, and it offers some comfort, the way predictability does.
Of course, on-line quizzes, horoscopes, and even clinical assessments won’t tell the whole story of who you are. Your personality traits, habits, and reactions are only a piece of the puzzle. You have to add your family history, your DNA, your own history growing up, your medical history, your psychological development, your love life…. Then you have to set it all up in specific to your environment, include the milestone events that have shaped you, and every other detail that should matter. It’s a whole archive, a library of factors that contribute to the person that you are today.
It’s a lot. So why bother?
As someone who wrote a memoir and who frequently gives public talks about my own story of relinquishment and my story of recovery, I can tell you that learning about myself has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my existence. I know that I had a unique situation because of my adoption and that trauma, and I possibly had more of an incentive to find out my background because of a medical condition (a seizure that was most likely related to my drinking but also my genetic predisposition). In a way, I had no choice but to go digging. And once I started, I’ve found that the answers I’ve been looking for all my life started to materialize right in front of me. And not necessarily in the form of facts. No, I began to understand who I was in terms of how I connect with people. I started to deepen my relationships with my loved ones. I started seeing my true self reflected in those who supported me and sometimes knew me better than I knew myself. I sought counsel and a quest for even more answers. I immersed myself in my recovery and discovered that I wanted more from it, and I went after that. And the whole time, there was a thought in the back of my head to one day sit down and either tell the entire story or write it down. I wanted to be able to tell it so well that I would no longer doubt my identity. This was because I know that once I no longer doubted my identity, I would finally be whole. From that point, I could only expand my horizons.
Photo by Blake Barlow on Unsplash
I’m not suggesting that you go ahead and write a whole book. But it might be useful to write even a few pages about your history or tell it to a voice memo. Then read it back or listen to it. There’s something incredibly empowering about having it all in once place.
I look forward to telling you more about that!
#newreality #mentalhealth #sober #soberlife #sobriety #health #addictionrecovery #addiction #alcoholism #substanceusedisorders #recovery #adoptee #adoption #trauma #traumainformed