Friday, August 1, 2008

I Need an Identity, Someone Give me theirs!

So, if you’re not an eating disorder, what are you?
C’mon, I know you can think of some things.
Well, I guess I’m a mom. And a wife.
Yes, you are, but I’m not talking about roles. I’m talking about who you are at the core. Do you understand?

Yes (but I really mean no, like, a GIANT hella no).
Why don’t you write a blog about your identity, and we’ll talk about it when you next come in?

So, I’ll do it – though I’ve attempted it before. Well, many times. See? Oh, geez! Make me stop with the links! Okay, I’m done. I swear.

So, if you actually bother to go back and read some of those links, you can see that I have very much in the past attempted to figure out who I am, what kind of stuff I’m made of. And I haven’t had much success, really.

If I'm not supposed to talk about the fact that I'm a mama, and a wife, and a daughter, and an eating disorder, blah diddy blah, then what am I supposed to say? That I'm a hot piece of woman meat? I don’t think M was going for that… Can my identity be centered on the fact I have really shiny hair? I mean, that’s all I’m coming up with. Or maybe my beautifully golden tan? I like my collar bones. HELP!!! Idon’tthinkI’msupposedtobebuildingmyidentityoutofphysicalcharacteristics! I’m an anomaly! The Briester has no identity. Ack!


then what?

Seriously. Am I supposed to list, one by one, my meager list of accomplishments? My personality traits? Am I supposed to write about my silly hopes and dreams, the fluff one fantasizes about but never dares speak aloud for fear of others shooting their flimsy, whimsical dream to the ground? Hell no. I ain’t going there.

Apparently, I’m SOL. If anyone wants to give me an identity or whatever, feel free to comment.


jana bananas said...

I think that you very much have an identity. Even knowing you for a short period of time, I see a vibrant woman who is very funny, a great writer, and a fighter. And I know you like bowling. And going to the mall. Do those count? Oh, and you're a major lover of cats and care about animals in general. You're sensitive, caring, and kind, but also sassy and fun. You're charismatic.

You're a lot of things, Brie. You don't need a new identity. You just need to realize all these great things that you already possess.

I love the person you are. So nyah!

jana bananas said...

And you do have beautiful shiny hair that I adore. I've actually figured out some tricks to make my hair softer (and possibly shinier) so yay!

brie said...

You guys, I know I shouldn't be saying this, but I look really big in that pic of me. Weight gain is really loving my face, eh?

JB, thanks for the comments. You SERIOUSLY helped!

brie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shannon said...

I kind of feel the need to give my input.

We women, as a society, feel as if it is negative to say anything good about ourselves. Like, if we say we love our hair or something, we are being cocky or bitchy (think Mean Girls "Youre really pretty" "Thanks!" "No, youre reeeally pretty" "Thank you." "So you agree, you think youre pretty?" "Uh...")

There is also the example that if someone says we look good, we automatically have to say "Oh no I dont! I am having the worst hair day ever!"

We need to learn to take compliments, and also be able to think highly of ourselves. You are def more than a wife/eating disorder. You are an awesome writer and friggin hilarious! That has got to count for something :)Dont be afriad to say good things about yourself!

jana bananas said...

You SO do not look big! Anywhere! As people would tell me: "no, you just actually have some cheeks now instead of looking completely gaunt."

I'm told that's much more attractive. :)

You look hot, woman!

KC Elaine said...

first, you do NOT look big in that pic, you look gorgeous!

second, dunno if this will help, but in program we've been doing lots of work around values. oh how I wish you lived here so you could do program with me, it's amazing! I think who we are has a lot to do with our values, because values are something at the core. We also made an "inner resources box" in body image, cheesy as that sounds, to list the resources that live within our bodies. examples: compassion, curiosity, courage, perseverance, memory, love, sensitivity, intelligence, power, etc. at first I didn't get it, but after some exercises I came to truly believe that my body has these abilities. I can write you an email or comment more about it if you'd like.

the amazing thing is, this program is really helping me with my identity. that's something I didn't get (possibly wasn't ready for) out of CFC. I've noticed as I write my memoir that I really have a lot of struggle with identity and the emptiness that always comes without an eating disorder. for the first time, I Think I'm beginning to fill that emptiness.

Hope this novel about myself helps...



kristin said...

I agree with Jana. You're a great person and you possess a lot of great characteristics. You're a good friend, you're funny, you're caring, and so much more.

By the way, Brie, I think you look awesome in that picture! :)

love, kristin

takeupyourbedandwalk said...

I agree with Jana, and I don't even know you personally!

But just from reading your blog, I'd say:

You're self-aware (because you have to be, in order to realize that you're doing something hurtful to yourself).

You're brave (because voluntarily going into the dark places in your brain and turning on the lights is scary).

You're strong (because you KEEP going back to the dark places and turning on lights).

You're funny (just read what you write)!

You're kind (see any post re: kids and/or animals).

You're determined (again with the dark places).

You've got some perspective on life (recognizing that even though the bad moments suck, they will eventually pass).

And a million other things that other people have already mentioned. :)

brie said...

Ky, love love what you seem to be learning in this IOP program. I do know that there's more to me, but it is truly!! incredibly difficult to find what it is.

Shannon, you're so right - and that Mean Girls quote was dead on...I had honestly never thought of it that way before, but it's totally (and sadly) applicable. Thanks so much for your input.

brie said...

Okay, I think I'm breaking some sort of blog etiquette with how much I'm commenting on MY OWN post, but what you wrote, takeupyourbedandwalk, was so amazing - for all of us. I love the term "self-aware." I think that's a very admirable trait, and I thank you for seeing that in me.

Okay, I'm done! No more (at least, not for a little while...:)

Steph said...

I agree with everyone else, of course. :)
Even though it's hard to see for yourself, I think everyone has an identity. I'm still figuring out mine, too!

Krista said...

takeupyourbedandwalk made some GREAT observations. Maybe if you can't say or think of an identity for yourself, start with what we give you. It is easier to see the good in others than it is in ourselves. I want to add...

You're a compassionate friend (because you post replies on others blogs even when you don't know them).

You're creative and intelligent (anyone who read your writing would agree on this one).

You're sensitive and that's not a bad thing (you seem easily affected by what's going on around you and you are sensitive of others needs and feelings).

This is kind of personal question, but have you ever received your patriarchal blessing (sorry this is Mormon talk for those who don't know what one is)? This may be a good place to search for some answers about who you really are inside.

brydelle said...

Everybody struggles with finding their identity. I know I do. Probably daily I try to detach myself from my issues and emotions, and I just try to see myself without any obligations or ambitions or pressures or sins. And I try to just be. Sometimes it lasts for, like, a second. Other times I can't do it at all--this is what happens most often. Very rarely, I can think about myself in a detached way for a couple of minutes. In my completely uneducated opinion, your identity is not what you do, or what you think. It is what you intend. That way, I separate the things--both good and bad--that I do, and the pressure i feel, from what I really think I am.

I mean, you are strong and beautiful, and hilarious, and a big source of strength and sanity and my best friend. Apart from what you mean to me, you ARE those things. You always have been and you always will be. Strong, beautiful (and I don't mean physically, though you are that too), kind, talented, smart, funny, good. These are things that won't leave you, not unless you make them. You might not always see them, but they're there.

But, frankly, you don't need me telling you who you are. You know already--you've just got to remember.

On a completely different note, when do you want me to take you to dinner for your b-day? I got you a present!

Emily said...

Brie, I think you look BEAUTIFUL in that picture of you. Beautiful. Not big at all!

I'm in the same boat with the identity crisis thing. I have no idea who I am besides being a mentally ill person.

Kathy with a K said...

If only we could call an Amber Alert for all the missing identities out there! Maybe they're all hanging out together complaining about how an effing eating disorder has taken their place.

alriggells said...

I don't think we will ever have a concrete identity. I don't know if this is bad or unhelpful of me to say. I think we change with our continuous growth. Step by step we add to who we are and are always bettering ourselves. I mean, maybe we do have an identity, but I don't know that we can ever say, this is our concrete identity cause even though change is though, we change. I mean before my ED I think I would have told anyone that sports, family, and school was my identity. Then ED became my identity. Right now I am not sure what my identity is, but I think maybe on a good day it would be, I am a dreamer that fights for my dreams, I am a family member that loves and cares, I am a women of values and beliefs, I am this or that. I don't know. This is probably the stupidest comment, but I guess I feel like just as the seasons change we change so I don't know that I can say for myself anyway that what my identity for today is will be my concrete identity for tomorrow. I mean I will always have a foundation for my identity and the house, but just as you paint a room and it changes, so does the person inside of use. We grow, we learn, we become stronger. Tell me if you think I am just a loony craze. Sorry

Penny said...

I took the time to read your links to other blogs. It was apparent to me how far that you have come in figuring out who you are by reading your story. You are not the same person that you were. You have already learned and changed and become more than what and who you were and I think that is one of the answers. EDs and other addictions trap one and hold them fast to their past. Freedom comes as you break free and then there is change and growth and fruition of dreams. Enjoy the ride abecause now you are on the train.

Penny said...

Sorry,but one thing more. You have asked the universal question of all time. Basically "who am I and why am I here?" Answering from an eternal perspective I think that we began to find out the answer by figuring out how much of ourselves we can give away.

brie said...

Alriggells, (I won't use your real name in case you don't want me to :) your comment was amazing - please don't apologize for it, because there was a lot of wisdom and truth in that. Thanks for sharing, and I love you, and hope we hang out soon. :)

and Mama Penny, thanks for your response too. Love you. :)

alriggells said...

Brie, I know I commented before, but I realize after reading it, I didn't answer the question you asked, but rather spilled out a thought. Apology presented.

I agree with Penny in the progress you have made. I hope this isn't discouraging, but no matter how many people you ask, and no matter the replies you get you have to make the decision on who or what your identity will be and I think you know that and do that. What I see in you is a woman of strength, courage, love, compassion, you are unique and special. You have something different to offer everyone that you encounter with, whether that be a smile, a hug, your humor, your compassion, your insight, your love, your peace, your amazingness. The impact you have had on my life is more then I could ask for. YOU as a friend, not a treatment/ED friend has offered me hope, laughter, peace of mind, friendship, gratitude, tears, love, joy. You are Brie Brown Brieviek and with that you have a story to tell, a life to live, and so much to offer.

Sorry so corny

belinda said...

Hey Brie,
I think others have said much of what I would want to say, in regards to pointing out some very brilliant things about you.

It's hard, isn't it, to read these things, to associate the aspects of daily activity into.. "an identity" because it sounds like a title (that almost requires a description, like a job description). Am I making any sense???

I'm not sure what my own identity is apart from the official titles like, partner, mother of many animals, sister, daughter etc..
What is identity anyway?? Yikes, this is confusing!

Okay... so I just looked up on Wikipedia 'identity' ~ boy! This is a bigger topic than I imagined (or gave credit for).

I found these comments interesting:
Anthropologists have most frequently employed the term ‘identity’ to refer to this idea of selfhood in a loosely Eriksonian way (Erikson 1972) properties based on the uniqueness and individuality which makes a person distinct from others.

Others, by contrast, have sought to introduce alternative concepts in an attempt to capture the dynamic and fluid qualities of human social self-expression. Hall (1992, 1996), for example, suggests treating identity as a process, to take into account the reality of diverse and ever-changing social experience. Some scholars have introduced the idea of identification, whereby identity is perceived as made up of different components that are ‘identified’ and interpreted by individuals. The construction of an individual sense of self is achieved by personal choices regarding who and what to associate with. Such approaches are liberating in their recognition of the role of the individual in social interaction and the construction of identity.

Not sure if this makes your task more confusing or helpful ??
Either way, I found a lot of information on Identity and how people struggle with it. You are not alone on this one Brie!


Jackie said...

I fully agree with what everyone has said. And you look beautiful in that picture Brie, I mean it!!!

xo Jax

Laura said...

You're a hot piece of ass. Now, go and work it, sister.

Heather said...

Brie, I too agree with all everyone has said. I dare you to write out all the "inner" qualities you have (as well as those that others have stated...even if you don't believe them yet). I think these things, the values within our minds and hearts, are what makes up our "identities." It's your inner "spirit" (so to speak) that makes you who you are. And I've never seen a kinder and more generous heart than yours.

zubeldia said...

I've not been able to find the words to respond to this, mostly because my thoughts on identity are enmeshed with academic stuff (identity being the focus of my research, but I will say that I think that, in large part, identity is an ongoing creation, something we performatively install through our everyday interactions, thoughts, and emotions. That being the case, it is something that can be transformed through everyday shifts - so Brie, as you move away from your ed, you become less entwined in an identity that has for so long constrained you, you have the opportunity to engage with different parts of your self, to create new versions of your self,for identity is always a process of becoming, I think. I used to think that my identity was at least in part tethered to a running self, yet I injured myself and could no longer run and I found myself floundering - what was I without running? This had been the ONLY thing that had threaded the various eras of my life... and as that identity fell away I was confronted with the possibility that there was nothing lurking beneath, that I would have to 'do' something else, to cultivate other things in order for an identity to emerge.

While these are social identities, we're always constrained by a social language when we think of identity. I'm a professor, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a rower, a vegan, etc... and yet these things do, I think, covey something deeper about who I think I am, or who, at least, I want to be. I want to be kind, I want to be engaged with social struggle, and on, and on, and some of those social identities offer a means to realise those more abstract facets of my self.

What I'm trying, very incoherently, to say, is that I think you are many things, sometimes contradictory, but you are someone always in flux, someone who is cultivating and creating an identity. If your identity appears fixed - i.e. anorexic - it's only because you are grasping to it, my friend, you can choose (not quite a choice... but you know what I'm saying) to do something different. You can eat enough and not worry about your weight (easy peasy, right?) and you can do your writing, volunteer, get the job you wish for, and on, and on... and your identity shifts.

But even now, darling Brie, you are so much more than an eating disorder - that is not who you are, it is an aspect of yourself, sometimes a dominant part of yourself, but you are creative and compassionate and all those things others have said. I think that your eating disorder has likely cultivated your kindness and your sensitivity, and I think it will inform developing parts of yourself, but anorexia needn't stick around, you won't fall apart or implode without it.

I don't think this makes a bit of sense, but it does in my head :-)

Love you

brie said...

Belinda, hey, thanks for the definition of it - it's quite interesting to read that, and see how it's really and truly defined.

And Thank you so much for taking the time to write that. It did indeed make sense and was beautifully put. I think I'm going to print out this post and all of these comments and take them with me when I see M tomorrow.

So Z, Belinda, all of you...thanks so much for your comments. Really. I'm in awe of the love you have for me and for how highly you think of me too. I'm very lucky to have all of you in my life.

xo to you all

Brooke said...

Geez Breezie...I really don't have the answers for you (I wish I did, coming from the same genes and all). Problem is....we are in the same spot, dealing with different issues. But at the same time, they are alike. We are both coming to a time in our life where we have kids (or a kid) and we need to live for them. We need to be there for them. We have to be around. We have to get better. We have to cook and clean and give of ourselves everyday. That is so hard when your brain is going the other way. Some days it hurts just getting up, letting alone having the mental energy to care for my kids. Day by day by day.

I also am in the process of trying to find out who I am and I'm not having much luck. Especially on my bpolarness days! I know who I am on those days for sure...I'm a bitch, I'm a lover, I'm a child, I'm a lover, I'm a sinner, I'm a saint, I do not feel ashamed, I'm your hell, I'm your dream, I'm nothing in between you know you wouldn't want it any other way. So take me as I am.

THis song, john thinks is written just for me!!! My point being is the idea that we are are in this uphill battle just trying to find a middle ground. It makes it harder with our chemical build up for sure. But we just to have to work that much harder than others.

WE are in a huge family and that sometimes can make it harder. The comparing and the competition.

I make no sense, but let me know how to do it when you figure it out......