The words “lost identity” have come up so many times in groups I am a part of lately. It’s a concept that resonated with my friends as well and even myself. There are many different reasons why people brought up their feelings of lost identity. From losing long-term jobs, to being stuck in a rut. The most common theme among most, including myself, is from becoming a parent. I am not speaking for everyone, but for some people, giving your all to the little person you created can mean losing yourself from time to time. Being a parent is not something I would change for the world, but making sure I still take a bit of time for self-care and to retain other parts of myself is something I need to prioritize more. Before having my daughter I was a Personal Trainer, internationally published model and University student. I needed to find my way back to doing things I enjoy.
My loss of identity I think started back in pregnancy. I had a tough pregnancy and my daughter was born premature at 36 weeks but stopped growing at 32. She was tiny when she born, weighing only 1.72kgs. I will go into this in detail in a later blog about the difficulties we faced. She spent 3 weeks in the Neonatal Unit and I spent every day with her. Having a prem baby, then becoming a single parent when she was 4 months old turned my world upside down. I didn’t have family around to help at the time and had 0 time to myself. I went from being a balanced person knowing my place in the world to having a new role as a mum to a prem baby that later got diagnosed borderline Global Developmental Delay (GDD)and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). My daughter Abi is and always will be my entire world. To be the best mother I could be for her I needed to learn self-care. I swear by having a psychologist. They not only help you work through your thoughts but help you put things into perspective and its really eye opening. Through this I discovered mindfulness techniques to take time and relax once my daughter had gone to sleep and I had some time to myself. I found mindfulness great for relaxation. I could never do proper meditation as I didn’t have the patience -but mindfulness is good as it can be as simple as colouring in books. I did mindfulness colouring books as well as the smiling mind app which is short meditation mindfulness exercises. This helped me relax in hectic days even if I only had 5 minutes it helped me switch off and focus.
Over the past 3 years being a single mum I have had to find lots of little things that help me hold onto the person I am to try to retain my identity and the things that make me, well me. I have luckily had family move back to Perth a year ago so I have more help and support. This means I get the opportunity to go out and socialise. Every one has different hats they wear, I’m not just a mum, I’m a friend, a daughter, a writer, a single woman, a fitness enthusiast, a foodie, a creative and so much more. To help keep all the parts of me together, I need to maintain myself. Even if I can’t get out, I socialise with friends in group chats. I try to get out every few weeks just me to see friends and get out to playdates a few times a week so both Abi and I can socialise. We are social animals and it’s not healthy to be isolated.
I admittedly was stuck in a bit of a rut lately with Abi and I getting sick regularly and being house bound. Getting out and about and doing things is critical so you don’t get stuck in a rut but sometimes it can’t be avoided. To work around being home more I needed to find things at home for when Abi was asleep or out visiting that I could do. I have found my love of writing again. Im not just writing my blog and running my social media pages, I am also writing historical fiction/ fantasy and working towards my first finished book. The goal is to turn my love of writing into a published book series. I am back at uni, studying online, to slowly chip away at the remaining units of my business degree. By doing these things I help hold onto my identity by retaining parts of me like my creativity, education and career ambitions.
If you are worried like so many about loss of identity sit down with a pen and paper and write down what you used to like doing. What you enjoy doing now. What things make up you. What gives you your sparkle. For me its maintaining friendships, getting out and most importantly being creative. My creativity spills into every aspect of my life and makes it a lot of fun for my daughter with all the crafts we do that keeps us both happy. Dont think to yourself – I have lost my identity and don’t know what to do – it’s up to you to find what made you sparkle and smile, and find it again.
When you give so much you can’t be whole unless you take care of you too.