Updated: Feb 5
I have read that the core parts of a person's personality are set in early childhood. It is made up of both our DNA and our life experiences. That core identity forms mental models that we follow as we grow up. It influences our decisions as we mature. What does that really mean in regards to who I am? Am I just a collection of cells created by my parents responding to experiences based on mental models I formed as a child or am I something more?
In a lot of ways who we are is best defined by our stories. Some people have volumes and volumes of stories and others have only a few. I myself, have a library full of stories. As I lived each of my story lines, I often felt like it was a new chapter. However, looking back I can see many of my stories had similar themes and characters.
In the fairy tales I read and loved as a girl, a prince would rescue the damsel in distress. I often saw myself as that damsel; falling for men who I placed in the hero role. The damsel is a role I know and play very well. It felt safe and comfortable like a pair of well broken in shoes that I could just slip into and wear without thought. However, I always discovered that my princes weren't heroes after all. Many of them were abusers just like my original perpetrator. I would pick myself up, dust myself off, and then do it all over again.
It isn't a big leap realizing that this is part of a mental model I developed because of the abuses I suffered as a young girl. The escape I found in those fairy tales added a layer of complexity to the model. I was taught that I was "nothing" unless I had a man to please. So naturally I was always looking for my prince and savior, who I would spend my life pleasing. Each of my damsel in distress story lines felt new and different. Every time I thought I was creating a new plot line. Every time was a lie, I told myself and believed. I hadn’t really learned the lesson yet. My value is not determined by a man or how well I please him!
No one I have ever met goes through their life without some hardship. The key is to learn from those hardships and change the way we do things rather than repeating the loop endlessly. We change and evolve those mental models into healthier, happier ways. It is hard work and it requires an ability to swallow some hard truths. Facing our true selves is terrifying! I don't want to see that I am lazy, selfish, easily manipulated, and afraid. It is just as hard to look at myself and see that I am also generous, intelligent, creative, and warm-hearted. I have spent a lot of time and energy cultivating an image I show to everyone (including myself) of who I think I should be. I have fine tuned this image into a combination of what I think people expect from me and what I expect from myself. It's an impossible goal that fill me with self doubt and an empty feeling. It is exhausting! What I really need to do is work towards loving and accepting my true self.
So, "Who am I?" The answer is, I am still learning who I am. However, I will share some things I do know about myself. I am Jennifer Silvernights. My parents are Dave and Wanda. I am the older sister to my sibling, Dee. I am the mother of Nathan, Gage, Ashton, and Ruby. My birthday is April 2, 1974 and I am 44 years old. I am a graduate with an associate's degree in fashion design with high hopes of a successful career. I live with mental illness and have been diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder. I love children, pop music, sci-fi and fantasy, reading, singing, coffee, animals, and chocolate.
I am both selfish and generous depending on the day, my moods and whether there is chocolate. I am not always nice and sometimes even make fun of other people, but I am also a strong believer in treating people fairly and with dignity. I tend to to be a pacifist but I will fight if I am backed into a corner or feel deeply wronged. I am strong and determined if it matters to me; lazy and weak it if doesn't matter, or if I feel completely overwhelmed. I like to be in charge, but I also love to work in a group. I love being around people, but I have few real friends.
I am very creative and want a successful career in my field, but I am afraid of what that success will mean. I never really feel good enough, but I believe I am special. I want to hear nice things about myself, but I feel terribly vain and like a bragger when I tell other people those same nice things. I love to learn new things, but I could just as easily sit down and get lost in a book, a TV show, or a nice nap. I believe in reincarnation, but I am still afraid I could be wrong.
I still believe in unicorns, fairies, and magic but, I am not a damsel in distress in need of a prince. I am a woman who is saving herself!