Friday, June 17, 2011

Identity Crisis

No.  Not the DC Comic.  The actual psychological term.  Identity crisis.  The definition of which can be found here on Wikipedia.

"“Those who fail to achieve a cohesive identity-who experience an identity crisis-will exhibit a confusion of roles,” [1] not knowing who they are, where they belong, or where they want to go. This sort of unresolved crisis leaves individuals struggling to “find themselves.”"

This is exactly where I am these days and, at 41 years of age, should not be.  This is where you are when you're getting ready to graduate high school and trying to figure out what to major in.  Right?!  It's an adolescent issue.  Not something you try and figure out at 41.  Needless to say, I'm frustrated with it.

I understand how I got here.  With both parents struggling with addiction while doing their best to raise me I had to mature at a faster rate then most kids my age in order to take care of them.  I grew into the caretaker and peacemaker role.  I was the 'perfect' child in the dysfunctional family model.

Shortly after graduating from high school I moved from one home to another, from my adopted Mother's to my birth Mother's and shortly after that move I joined the military.  A year and a half later I was married to a man who I saw as needing to be taken care of and pregnant with my son, who would, of course, also need to be taken care of.  It's been my role in this life.  Caretaker of others.

It's also been a bit of a curse because I allowed it to take over and drown out any sort of identity I may have wanted to create for myself or find for myself.  It was my way of getting others to love me and accept me.  So, here I sit at 41 years of age wondering what it's all about and where I'm supposed to go from here.  Sitting on a mountain of debt from my own schooling and my son's, among other things, with no interest in a career and 'struggling to find myself' while I look at those around me and try desperately not to compare myself to them.  But it's hard not to do.  It's hard not to compare myself to them and it often times has me feeling like a failure.  I admit it.  This is me opening the festering wound to expose to the world.  This, in itself, creates all kinds of anxiety within relationships of all kinds, as well, causing this horribly dark circle of thinking to continue. 

On the other hand, this is an incredible opportunity for growth.  An opportunity for me to look at those things that I have accomplished in my life, change the programming in my head and focus on the positive, as they say.

Currently, I'm working a part-time job and have an offer for another part-time job and a full-time job.  None of them are 'careers' nor anything to be tremendously proud of, like a doctor or a lawyer or what-not.  They're just jobs.  But the company at the full-time job really wants me to come back and work for them again.  It's not the first time they've tried to get me to work for them permanently.  They say they really value my work ethic.  It's not a career but those are positive things to look at.

Honestly, at this point, I don't even know what a career would look like for me.  I'm not even sure why I'm putting this all out there or what it is I'm looking for, but, there you have it.  My current struggle with life.  An identity crisis at age 41. 

Maybe in December when I turn 42 the answer to life will magically appear.  That is the answer to life, you know.  42.  (Read the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.)  Hmmm...we'll see.


  1. Women often go through this in our forties. Ferserious. It's a thing. People write about it. And for exactly the reasons you describe. We finally have a strong enough sense of ourselves to look around and realize we have spent our lives taking care of others.

    Case in point: me! Discovered that, doh, I'm a lesbian, at 39. Now I'm 44 and the journey continues.

    I've finally decided that the search for identity will be life-long.

    Best wishes on your upcoming decisions, and may we forties-decade women take care of ourselves!!!

  2. I don't agree. life is continually changing and so are the questions we face. The tools we have that allow us to negotiate those questions-every tool box is different-and we acquire the tools at different times in our life. Maybe we acquire a tool and feel uncertain how to use it. We lack confidence, we have never worked with the tool before, or have, yet in a different capacity. It can be nerve-wracking, scary. But this also can be a time of great self-discovery, a re-awakening. A friend once wished me "enjoy your journey through not knowing" when I felt as if the rug had been pulled out from underneath me. It was an incredibly powerful thing to say to me. I try to remember those words when the tension of uncertainty and internalized pressure of "I should be at this point in my life" feels like a mountainous weight. In reality, it is those moments I find I need to be the most gentle and kind to myself so I do not have a knee-jerk reaction, or respond to my situation, whatever it might be, with regret. I am not perfect, however, and it isn't always easy, but if I can remember that the agenda of my life is the one I set for myself, I do okay. I get what I need.

  3. So, you mean, I'm not going to feel better when I'm 41? Crap.

  4. I'm 48 and loving life more than I ever have, thanks to "maturity" confidence, priorities, etc., that I didn't have in my younger years...

    It does get better!

  5. For me, the 40's were a great decade. A lot of the self doubt fell away. I don't have a *career*, but I do have a job. I don't have a soul mate, but I do have a girl friend. I'm never gonna change the world, but I'm a good person with good intentions and good actions. I have a life that I created and I like it - most of the time. When I don't like it, I bitch about it. Then I feel better.

    Life, the Universe, and everything... it's all right here!

  6. Well, you're not the only one, as you can see. I didn't figure out I was genderqueer/trans until a couple of years ago, and I'm 47. I'm still figuring tons of things out and I don't see an end to it. It's frustrating, yeah. I try to see it as an adventure, try to remember that discovering new things about myself is fun.