Who are you?

I was thinking about this the other day, in terms of what groups you belong to, what terms you use to describe yourself, etc. Mostly it came to mind because someone made reference to the fact that I didn’t seem like a typical New Yorker, even though that is where I grew up. Did growing up there influence some of what I am today? Absolutely. But so have many other things, things that other New Yorkers haven’t been exposed to.

I’m proud of having grown up in N.Y., and there are aspects of that history that I identify very strongly with. There are aspects of having an Irish heritage or being an abuse survivor that I identify very strongly with as well. On the other hand, the things I identify strongly with may not be the same things that another person from a similar background identifies with.

At the end of the day I’ve been influenced by growing up in N.Y., but also by living the past 20 years in the Midwest, coming from an Irish heritage, being an abuse and depression survivor, working with computers, studying accounting, playing hockey, getting divorced, currently being married, a love of photography and about a hundred other little events and experiences that make me the individual I am.

It’s those same events and experiences that make you who you are. Who you are, and what you think will always be influenced by all of these past experiences, not by any one group you belong to. That’s why my best advice to survivors has always been to find what works for you. Just because you and I are both survivors, doesn’t mean that the things that helped me be healthy will help you, nor does it mean I’m not healthy because I didn’t get there the same way you did.

The important thing is that you are the one doing it. Your childhood was decided for you, adulthood doesn’t have to be.

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  1. I like reading your thoughts–you’re a very self-aware person. And these are wise words for survivors. Thanks!

  2. “The important thing is that you are the one doing it. Your childhood was decided for you, adulthood doesn’t have to be”

    What a powerful statement! I cannot count how many times I have struggled with the knowledge that I have lost my childhood, that it was stolen from me and there is nothing I can do to get it back.

    Funny how while reading those powerful words of yours that it dawned on me that yes, absolutely my childhood was stolen, STOLEN, I had no part in that decision…but I do have control over my adulthood and the future that I face…I guess I should start living it!

    Thanks and blessings to you Mike.

  3. Sometimes the most simple statements mean the most to me. I want to thank you for the line about adulthood not having to be decided for me. I’m dealing with that issue right now. I’m still listening to old tapes that I can’t seem to get rid of. My therapist has said to me, “you’re an adult now.” it seemed so strange hearing it. I saw myself as an adult when I was a child. it’s all so screwed up. But when it is all so screwed up it’s the simple statements that sink in and stick.

    Austin of Sundrip Journals

  4. I love that you raise the question of how we see ourselves because that is such a powerful question! Once we begin to ask it, we can begin to choose what we want the answer to be.

    We can choose who we will be and how we will live our lives. Is it easy? Not if we’ve been abused but we do have the power to overcome the legacy of the past and choose for ourselves what our future will look like. Thank you for reminding us to stop and see ourselves as individuals not necessarily defined forever by any one attribute or experience.

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