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Who Are You?

By Kenda-Ruth Stumpf

Who are you?

Do you define yourself by the conditions of your life--your life story? If so, what becomes of you, who are you, when those conditions change? Do you define yourself by your relationships? If so, what then when they are gone? Will you cease to exist? Is this what you feel is happening now? Though you may be someone's spouse, child, sibling or parent; nothing in those labels defines YOU. Who are you?

Who would you be were you not a wife and mother or husband and father? Who would you be if tragedy struck and your son and spouse died? You would be in pain--immense pain as you are now. But life would also go on. The tragic event would shape you, but would it destroy you?

If we define ourselves by our relationship to others, we are dependent on others for our identity. We have all experienced loss. And yet we live. We mourn, we cry; we also rejoice, we laugh, we sing; we live. Who are you now and who will you become?

Who are you when alone? Self focus is about finding, creating and learning who you are. Not who you are in reference to anyone else or to circumstances; you and only you.

What is Self-Focus? What is its purpose? Why is it important?

  • How do you feel about yourself?
  • What level is your confidence?
  • Do you feel that your life requires your spouse for fulfillment?
    • If so, how does this affect your confidence and self-esteem?
  • What and Who are you without him or her?

My husband, his family and our children have always been what made me breathe each day.
They made you breathe? Really? That is physiologically impossible for long periods, so how was that accomplished? Rescue breathing or CPR? For how long? Your entire 10 - 20+ year marriage, 15 - 25+ year relationship, since becoming parents...? Doing CPR for 60 minutes is tiring. What kind of burden must it put on someone to breathe for another for years on end?

What you are really saying is that you lost your Self.

Who are YOU?

If you cannot answer that question without referencing someone else or a situation, begin searching for your Self now. MLC is in part, a crisis of identity. Your spouse is searching for who he is now and who he will become in the future; you must do the same.

Some begin at Bomb Drop having lost their identity to years devoted to being wife and motherhusband and father--they have sacrificed themselves for their family. Perhaps you were the rock in crises. When your spouse lost a parent or sibling to death; you saw him through. You supported him through graduate school, and nursed him through injury and illness. You were strong in the family element, sacrificing your needs for the needs of your family.

Your family is again in crisis, but your services are not merely being denied; you are being dismissed. Now what? You are out of your element. You knew how to tend and care for others; it was your entire being.

What were you before? Before marriage, before becoming a Mother or Father?

Who were you?

Finding and focusing on your Self will not bring your spouse home or keep him away, such is not the point. Rather, these will bring you home to your Self. The only person you can find and save is your Self.

If your spouse does not return, you will need your Self. You will need to be Self-reliant, Self-confident, Self-fulfilling, Self-supporting... Your spouse will not return if you do not reclaim your identity. It is unfair and too much of a burden upon him to be responsible for who you are; he's having trouble enough determining who he is.

The most important thing you can do is become a complete person. Independence is not finances, being able to change a tire or wash dishes. The most important part (at least to me) is internal. Knowing who you are inside and loving that person. Feel confident in who you are. This sort of person is strong.

Your big goal of rebuilding your marriage cannot be realized unless you become strong. Think about how to do that. I know it seems round-about since it doesn't involve your spouse. But she has got to journey into her own Self and find her strength. Will she? Let us pray she will. But that is not your part. Your part is you.

Self searching is the first step in Standing. Until you begin to reclaim your Self, you will make no progress in your relationship and your relationship has no chance. All other Standing methods are futile if you have no sense of Self. Your spouse will progress at a rate different than your own. Let her go through his journey at hers pace; pay attention to your journey.

I've tried to convince him that he can't be happy without the people who love him the most in this world but he can't see that.
You will fail to convince him of such a thing because it is untrue. Ask someone who has lost everything to a tragedy--ask the lone survivor. Life goes on. A person's happiness must be Self-created to be real. You are so afraid of losing him that you are trying to convince him that you make him happy--and only you (and external people) make him happy. You are trying to create or promote dependence to make you feel secure.

That isn't how it works. Each person needs to be internally strong. The only person you can make internally strong is your Self; your MLCer is responsible for himself.

It is an excellent goal to focus on yourself, Get A Life, become independent, strong, self-sufficient, happy with yourself etc. But what are you going to do with those things? For what end are you going to utilize them? Come to the place where you are not seeking marital reconciliation because of neediness--a lack of the ability to survive without your spouse. Lean on yourself, lean on God; rely on yourself and God when you are in need. Seeking help from your spouse is acceptable if your situation warrants it, men are fixers; they want to solve your problems. You can help your spouse to feel needed by allowing him to fix things, but just as you cannot fix him, he can also not fix you. Being needy and feeling needed are different. We all want to be of service, but we also want assurance that those we love can survive on their own in an unforeseen crisis or tragedy. To survive in such an event means they also need to be able to survive without the instigating tragedy.

Our lives are completely entwined, and I've never lived alone either.
You have become dependent on your spouse and family for self-identity. Identity comes from within, not externally. Yes, we develop it through and within relationships; we are social creatures. But it is who we are, not who others make us to be.

Why do I have to change or work on who I am? I didn't cause this crisis. I didn't do anything wrong. Why do I have to change who I am?
Change is inevitable; it is what life is about. It is also what Midlife Crisis is about--the avoidance of change. Your MLCer attempted to deny his Midlife Transition through Rejections & Refusal and failed. Replay is an active avoidance of change; denial is passive.

Growth is internal change. External change facilitates internal change. External changes are often tangible; growth is abstract, it is both a holding on to one's Self and a Letting-Go--opening one's Self to the world.

  • But why can't I just get him home and then work on me?
  • I don't care about me, I only want him home.
  • Why can't we fix everything after she gets home?
  • But if I can just get her home, we can work on the rest.

Why? Because he will not come home otherwise. Buts and should are irrelevant and logic against emotion creates a stalemate. Though MLCers do not return whole and complete, progress must have been made. You need to make changes and continue to grow and change and he will do the same. If you have not found internal strength through Self-identity; he will run again. If he has not progressed enough, he will run again regardless of your growth.

Her crisis is about her. Your journey must be about you. You cannot heal someone else, but your Self discovery allows you to be a healing facilitator for others. You can guide others toward Self-healing.

My greatest gifts in life are to make someone I love smile, make them happy.
You are over estimating your external power. You cannot, do not and have never had the power to make another person anything--happy or sad, with the exception of very young children who have not separated their identity from your own. You are going to have a tough time with this until you accept, realize and understand it. You must rediscover your Self.

I'm Kenda-Ruth and I believe in marriage.
Are you tired of hearing...
  • Once a cheater always a cheater?
  • You're better off without him?
  • She doesn't deserve you?
  • I guess it just wasn't meant to last?
  • Divorce is no big deal?
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