Identity is a tricky to define. Some may find their identity in their career. Or their family. Or the other half of a relationship. But when you strip that all away. When you ask yourself, “Who am I?” how do you answer? And here are the rules, you can’t say your job, your family status, relationship title, etc. Who are you?
Before Jake was killed, if someone asked me to describe myself, I would reply with descriptions such as, a teacher, a dog mom, a police wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister…you get the idea. Now before I go on, I am not saying these are wrong responses or not of great value, because they are. Let me explain further.
After losing Jake, I was no longer a police wife, I wasn’t even a wife. I wasn’t a teacher. Yeah, I was a dog mom, but to a lot less dogs. I was a friend, but I felt like a really crappy one and a crappy daughter and a crappy sister. WHO WAS I WITHOUT JAKE???
What did I like to do? What would I do if I didn’t teach? Was a valuable to others because I needed them in that time so badly, that I know it was hard to be my friend, my parent, my brother.
I was making decisions for myself that I had NEVER done. I met Jake when I was 17. I moved in with him straight out of college. I married him at 22.
What kind of adult was I? I had no freaking idea.
I had never chosen a place to live by myself. Wall paint colors, furniture, a car, you name it. I had always done that with Jake. He didn’t make decisions for me, but we made decisions together. I always had someone to bounce my thoughts and opinions off of. Sometimes I had to make compromises on what I wanted and we would settle on something we could both live with. We grew into adults together so many of our opinions, likes, and dislikes were similar. So much of me was intertwined with him just because of how long we had been together.
So flash forward. He’s gone. Who Am I Without Him?
I began therapy to process my grief. Oh man, there was so much more to unpack there. Because I didn’t feel “normal” most of my life or like I fit the mold, I struggle to find my identity. Jake was my rock, my safe place, the one who loved me unconditionally and I rested in the fact that it didn’t matter if I was normal or not. But I found that strength in him, not myself. Probably because I grew as an adult with him that so much of me was tied into us. So without him, I was completely and utterly lost.
In 3 years without him, I have bought a house that I love. I have picked paint colors that made me happy. I have followed my heart and gut setting boundaries with others around me that have either made my relationships stronger or ended them. I have found my voice. I have tried new things and failed (and learned that failure is not the end). I have learned from mistakes. I have learned to embrace my emotions and not run from them. I have learned that I cannot please everyone and that is okay. I have taken big risks outside of my comfort zone and found success by doing so. I am slowly uncovering who I am.
So who am I?
I am trusting.
I love deeply and unconditionally.
I feel emotions to my core.
I forgive easily.
I believe the best in people.
I have an internal fire within to help others and I hurt when I can’t.
I am funny.
I have a way with words that can allow others to feel what I do.
I have a strong voice that wants to speak truth and will speak for others when needed.
I believe in justice and what is right and treating others with kindness and respect.
I am a survivor.
I am a leader.
And for a huge portion of my life, I have felt these very things were faults, downfalls, and left me too vulnerable. Especially if I don’t have someone or others who validate that these are honorable attributes rather than faults. But I am learning, I don’t need that external validations. Sure it feels great to have it, but I can give it to myself.
These are things I have learned about myself. This is who I am and I am proud of it. Who knows what I may uncover next about myself.