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.