I graduated college a few months ago & I just got dumped callously after over five years of partnership. We were planning on getting married and I think I put aside any aspirations other than “wife” as I finished school.
I’m 22 and facing myself without him for the first time since high school. I’m a smart person (I think I am, at least. I’m a good writer and very passionate about what I studied in school). And I’m considering going to grad school this spring semester (I’ve already been accepted).
I guess what I’m trying to figure out is how I can start being a real person now that my identity isn’t wrapped up in a future with someone who is no longer interested.
I’m so young, but I feel so incredibly ancient & washed-up.
How can I become who I am?
What a beautiful question. What a tender, vulnerable way to express your deep sorrow, and with such an insightful reach, too: How can I become who I am?
What if I were to say to you: perhaps you already are who you are, and the task at hand is to discover her and be her? You have been there all along, but sometimes we get so caught up in an “identity”, as you said, that we lose touch with our true Self. Let’s figure out how you can move through the thick of this grief and begin to connect with the wonderful woman you already are.
We come into our physical life with our unique and precious soul, and we are immersed in circumstances that either support our soulful beingness, or not so much. Our nature coupled with our early environmental experiences, combine to get us to a certain point in our life—we acquire a feeling about who we are, and we cultivate that identity. But if we have missed the mark—if for whatever reason we have been disconnected from our soul, from the heart of our true Self, circumstances will conspire to alert us to that. Said circumstances usually arrive in the form of crisis, and crisis can result in one of two paths: getting stuck in the despair, or not wanting more of the same, and doing something about it. That something is usually the path into awakening: reconnecting with our true Self, so we may discern our purpose and find our joy.
Right now, you feel “ancient and washed up” because after five years of togetherness and holding a vision of a future that included your partner, you have lost not just him, but all the hopes and dreams you held close, the security you felt, not to mention your very sense of self. That’s a lot of loss. It may feel like you gave him all you had, and when he walked, he took it all with him. So, you’re hollowed out, and your path of least resistance has just been washed away. This is what crisis looks like, and it would be abnormal for you not to feel as you do.
I will give you the same advice I’d give any person who is in a crisis such as this: don’t resist the grief; feel it; be with it, and don’t rush things. Stand in this moment, looking out, trusting that the blank canvas you see is going to get colorful and multi-dimensional sooner than later—and your path will most assuredly appear. But for a bit of time, be sad. It’s not just okay to be sad, it’s important to be sad…to grieve—unfelt grief will always show up to trip us up in the future. Be with it now and be open to whatever tiny things may bring you some comfort. Sit quietly with your heart. Wrap yourself in warmth. Get some fresh air and pray—and by prayer, I mean ask that your heart remain open, so you can both feel, and hear…
You said you write—and you are a good writer—and you are passionate about what you studied in school; an interest, a talent, and a passion—this is a lot! Our talents, our passions, are the language of our soul, brushing up against our heart, pointing the way. If we “follow our heart” we are honoring our soul—we are letting our soul lead the way, and that is never a mistake.
You are closer to You, to becoming You, than you think.
I’d like to invite you to do some writing.
Below are several prompts to complete in a “free write/stream of consciousness” fashion. Aim to spend at least thirty minutes on each prompt. This will loosen up some of those tight knots of grief, while stirring some of the deeper feelings, fears, and desires you may be carrying.
I wanted _______________ because_____________.
I lost _________________ when my relationship ended.
My greatest fear _____________________________.
The most important thing to me is _____________________.
If I had one wish, I’d wish for ____________because___________.
I think having a purpose in life means_______________.
I think my purpose in life might be_____________ because________.
I’d also like to recommend two books to you:
Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way
Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose
The creative You, the writer You, will appreciate both books—especially Julia Cameron’s, because she’ll have you doing lots of writing! Let it be your winter project—hibernate with You, and come spring, begin anew.
I am…I become
We do not become who we are; we are who we are. But we can become the person capable of being our true Self—does that make sense? Becoming who we are is about merging with the “I am” that already is…
There is no life without sorrow, no life without that existential moment when circumstances press upon us to find “the purpose driven life”. This is your moment, and likely one of many, because while the core of our purpose is a constant, the means for living out that purpose can evolve. The feeling of having lost your identity, signals to me this was a moment you were always meant to get to—this is a moment of truth—a precious, painful, destined to be moment.
When we lose everything, we are positioned to gain that which matters most, that which can deliver us from the deepest of sorrow into acceptance and trust, no matter the circumstance. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it is in the depth of our unbearable sorrow that we can encounter a peace that can be difficult to encounter otherwise (the result of our fast paced, materialistic, instant gratification culture). That peace, that soft whisper that somehow brings us to trust in the flow of life, is what joy is, and in the very heart of that joy, you will find your purpose, and you will come to see that your suffering brought with it a blessing.
Be deliberate about speaking to your soul and be deliberate about listening to your soul’s heart, because it is your soul’s heart that holds all the Love in the universe, and that Love will heal you and guide you.
One day a time, my friend. You will be okay.