A Case of Mistaken Identity - Our True Selves

Who are we, really?

Recovery from the biking crash that sent me into Near Death has been much more difficult than I thought it might be. While the physical injuries were, and are, very severe, the brain injuries to my left frontal and temporal lobes has thrown my emotional state off into a place of grief over the person I thought I was...and lost.

Like many people, much of how I actually defined myself was by the things I did or my skills and strengths:
  • Technical
  • Analytical (able to solve problems)
  • Good at multitasking and managing large projects
  • A database geek
  • A teacher/Trainer
  • A beginning/Intermediate programmer
  • Able to translate technical jargon
  • Mid-distance road cyclist
  • Hiker
  • Cross-country skiier
  • Creative and artistic
It reads like a resume, doesn't it?

It's natural to do this. From the time we're small children, adults attach labels to us that may or may not be accurate descriptors: smart, brave, silly, slow, energetic, a good football player, bad with math, a pianist, graceful, clumsy, and on and on. Over time, we take these descriptions as identifiers for ourselves. We learn to define our Selves as merely a collection of these nouns and adjectives and adverbs.

But is that list of skills or strengths or activities really who we are deep inside?

I guess I always hoped that it wasn't, that we were somehow more than a collection of cells and genes and skills and activities. But my crash,  two Near Death Experiences, and recovery started the process of allowing me to really think about who I am at my core.

When my consciousness split during the crash, I could feel "me" go two ways: one stayed in my body and the other came to observe events from a distance away. I wondered...just which one of these states of being was "real?"

Later, during my supposed "recovery" period, I began to realize that I may never fully be back to the way I was - that there are some things I'll never be able to do both physically and mentally. The physical didn't bother me as much - I never really defined myself too closely with my physical activities. But my mental abilities...now there was the sticking point! About 4 months after the crash I realized that a large part of my definition of myself was as a scientist, a technical person, an analyst, and a programmer. And at that same time, I realized those were exactly the skills I was struggling with.

I could no longer write even simple programs - I would blankly stare at the computer screen until frustration and a meltdown took over. Yeah, I'd start crying because I didn't know how to even start to write the code that just 5 months ago was so easy for me. My math abilities were also negatively impacted, as was my ability to analyze and solve problems.

A large part of who I thought I was no longer existed.

I wept, and grieved the woman who I thought had somehow perished in that crash.

Yes, at first I thought that the old me had somehow "died," but one of my young yet wise friends hit the nail on the head. What was happening was that I was redefining and expanding my internal identity. As she so eloquently pointed out, I am still "me" and I will always be "me," it's just that some of the things that I do has changed or will have to change in order to continue on.

The real "me" is not simply that collection of skills or knowledge or activities. There is a core Self that is deeper, more Universal, and much, much older and wiser. It is not the scared animal consciousness stuck in a battered body being dragged under a truck. It is the Watcher-me, the One Who observed it all from afar, one who experienced sadness but at the same time knew that this was as it had to be in this moment. The real Me is the one who stayed calm and knew that everything I experienced through those weeks had a purpose, and that it would be "OK" in the end.

The real me is at heart a Being of Light, same as you are, same as we all are. It is that Universal Watcher, the creation of Spirit, the link to everything around us.

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2014. Please read disclaimer and Legal Notes here.

More details, including my thoughts, are in the book: Awakenings from the Light.