"I was, in fact, homesick for wildness, and when I found it I knew how intimately - how resonantly - I belonged there. We are charged with this - all of us. For the human spirit has a primal allegiance to wildness, to really live, to snatch the fruit and suck it, to spill the juice." - Jay Griffiths, Wild: an Elemental Journey

Sunday, May 13, 2012

This isn't really me writing this.

I've been continuing to think a lot about identity since my last post about it.  It seems I never get tired of asking "Who am I?" despite the fact that my inner critic screams, "Shut up!  You're so narcissistic!  You are who you are!  Stop thinking about it!"  Sometimes I listen to my inner critic and stop thinking about it.  And sometimes I don't listen and think a lot about it.  And then I blog about it.

Oldman and I on the banks of the Gulf Coast in New Orleans last December

The main reason identity keeps coming up for me right now is because I am thinking a lot about having an individual identity within the context of a relationship.  Oldman put it perfectly when he said:

How can I still be a ME when I'm also part of an US?

How do people do that?  I've been in and out of relationships since I was 16 (not counting all those childhood playground kisses and "relationships" where neither person talks to each other and you just write their name with hearts all over your notebook), and I still haven't figured it out.

Every time I'm single, I have no problem knowing who I am.  I know what I want to eat, listen to, and read.  I know who I want to to hang out with.  I know where I want to go.  I know what I like, and I spend time doing it.

And then every time I get into a relationship, no matter how much I tell myself I will hold on to who I am with an iron fist, I start to lose parts of me.  I don't know it's happened until it's already done.  I gradually make myself smaller and smaller to fit easily into the relationship without making any waves or doing anything that the other person might not like.  And then I wake up one day and I don't like myself and I realize it's because I've done it again.

I want to give myself the benefit of the doubt.  I want to believe I do it out of positive intention and love.  I love the other person and want to see them happy, so I make little compromises here and there.  Those small decisions build up over time, and then I'm in the habit of thinking more about what they need and less about what I need.  Is that how it's supposed to go?  Is that being selfless or losing your dignity?  Sometimes they look so much alike.

The tent that housed the dream

I had a powerful dream while backpacking last week.  (I am a firm believer that dreams given to me when I'm sleeping on a mountain or in the wilderness need to be paid attention to.)  I dreamed that I was going to get deported, so I had to change my identity and leave - immediately.

I was rushing around, trying to maintain an appearance of cool and calm to everyone, while frantically packing a bag and trying to take what I would need with me.  I told my mom, but no one else.  She was helping me make a plan as we were packing my bag.

I would go move to Asheville, North Carolina, change my name and appearance, and never speak to anyone in my current life again.  No contact with my family or any friends.  I would have to start a whole new life, and I couldn't even tell anyone about it.

I awoke feeling unstable and scared.  I wanted to call my mom right away for comfort, but I couldn't because I was in the middle of the woods.  But the idea of losing everything about who I am stayed with me all day.  As I hiked out, I pondered what an identity really is, and how I cemented mine.

Identity theft:

As if figuring out who I am isn't complicated enough on its own, there is now another me out there.  Someone filed a false tax return in my name, which is why I (finally) found out that I haven't received my refund even though I filed over 10 weeks ago.

Someone stole my identity.  I can't help but see the extreme irony in that phrase at this point in my life - stole my identity.  How is it possible to even do that?  There is someone running around in this world with my name, address, and social security number, pretending to be me.

So are they me?  Am I a name, address, and 9-digit number?  Or am I flesh and blood?  Or am I something that is neither of those; something you can't see or touch; something that will survive after this body and my social security number both expire?  I don't think you can steal that.  But you also can't open a credit card with it.

If they think they've hit the jackpot by being me with my steady income and good credit score, they're going to get a big surprise when my last paycheck comes August 15th and nothing comes after it!  Ha!

We're both about to be dirt poor.  And then maybe we'll both have to start over - just like in my dream.

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