Finding Melissa again

One of the reasons that I stopped writing Finding Melissa a few years ago was that I felt like I had finally found Melissa. That I had rebuilt a life and that I was no longer so submerged in an eating disorder that it was impossible to separate one from the other. That I had put the pieces painstakingly back together, making sense of why they’d come unhinged as I went along. That I knew who I was.

I am surprised to find myself drawn to writing about the same subject two years on.

It has been somewhat unsettling to find that I am scrabbling around, again, with a head full of questions and the impression that I have kind of disappeared somewhere along the way.

I wonder if this is how life works? Whether it is made up of these journeys.

I am beginning to suspect that I got the notion of a fixed sense of self wrong. To realise that it is hard to hold onto yourself when the context is constantly changing. To recognise that there is a different kind of stability which comes from somewhere deeper, maybe. That is like a beacon rather than a mooring.

It is hard to avoid clichés.

I have read a lot about identity and sense of self over the past few years. Descriptions where identity is clearly defined by action (I am what I do). Others, which point to a personal sense of self – a core that withstands what goes on around it. I have questioned who makes the definition. And whether it’s one that needs to be made –

And maybe it’s not the finite terms that matter, as I had previously believed. Maybe it’s not the labels or the tangible things or even the actions, because we all know how easy it can be to fall into the not doing or doing things trap, and how that can sometimes belie what we really feel….maybe it goes deeper and vaguer then that.

Language is scarily evasive sometimes.

I like the idea of the core self. I like the notion that there is a strong part of us, our essence, that can withstand whatever life throws at it. But I also believe that each different part of the journey requires a re-orientation. That there’s an adjustment period where you notice the context changing and have to work out, again, where you fit in.

I have found this re-orientation quite terrifying. I wonder, now, whether I should see it as a sign of growth.


4 responses to “Finding Melissa again

  1. (good to see you blogging again!)

    I definitely agree that there is no such thing as “fixed sense of self”. Am reading Gestalt/humanistic theory at the moment which discusses the way in which the “self” exists always in context of the surrounding environment/situtation/other people (referred to as “the field”). This includes all the past baggage that people bring to any scenario but also looks at how the self in the present is a changing entity.

    I think that trying to hold on to a single identity is a recipe for disaster because identity, like situations and environments and relationship is something that is fluid and constantly changing. If you try and maintain a fixed personality/self in the presence of constant change (even subtle change) you will be constantly fighting against your nature.

    A stability can come from within (as you say) based on some fundamental sense of self, boundaries, awareness of desires and insight into your behaviours but we all equally need the flexibility to move with the flow of life and others.

    That’s my tuppence. (if it makes any sense) 🙂


  2. Makes a lot of sense 🙂 I guess the challenge I’m experiencing is doing all that without feeling that I am getting lost or disappearing. Guess that comes from a reduction in the tension (ie fighting to remain “the same”) and also getting more and more accustomed to change. We’ll see…

    • I think also (perhaps?) you might be extra sensitive to your sense of self, aware when it is strongest within you and when you feel less in control or defined..?

      Trying to balance the need to hold on to that with the potential for “letting go of the edge” – but without losing yourself in the process.

      If boundaries have been easily transgressed in the past they often remain fragile, tenuous and something that we want to hold on to and fight for. But you can do this gradually I think…

      Have you done much in the way of mindfulness/meditation? it’s something that can be fitted in to the day – even 10 minutes here and there to “check in” with yourself during a busy day is a way of reassuring yourself that “you” are still in there, despite all the busyness and demands from others on your time.


  3. Yep – think I’m hyper aware of it now which is also something I probably need to loosen. I haven’t done any meditation (or at least not seriously) but it’s definitely something that has been recommended a lot lately. Think finding that space somewhere sounds like a really good idea. x

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