Maybe all kids are tormented by that question and not just the children of narcissists, I can only filter it through my experience.
I can remember frantically and desperately asking myself, why am I me?
I have no idea how many years that question tormented me or when I stopped asking it. I suppose it could have been when I started self-medicating around age 13. I smoked a lot of weed when I was young. In the 8th grade, I was called pothead Poston. I hated that nickname. Mostly, because the kid who gave it to me was a dick.
Maybe, I still asked the question after then. Maybe, it went away when I got a job, became preoccupied with moving out of my parent’s house, and paying bills.
The question drove me insane. I knew that I was a person and that I had thoughts and feelings. But, I spent so much time disassociated from myself that I truly had no idea WHO I was.
Why am I me?
Just typing that brings little flutters of anxiety up through my chest. When I think about asking that question, I see myself in my childhood bedroom.
In my bedroom, there’s a non-working fireplace with a beautiful mantel surrounded by green ceramic tile. My wall paper has dainty little rose clusters on it. I am around 9 years old and wearing my school uniform, the plaid jumper and a white blouse with a Peter Pan collar. I’m in a child’s pose with my face on my knees. My hair is cut in the uneven pixie cut that my mother imposed on me (Think Moe from the 3 Stooges. That would be the haircut I wore throughout the late 60s and early 70s). I am hugging my knees and just screaming that question in my own head.
If I could go back in time, I would gather her up and tell her that I can’t answer her question. I still don’t know why I am me. I don’t know how we become ourselves. I know that much of me was made by my childhood, my parents, and my friends, but I also know that I have a core that is all mine. It always has been. I would tell her that it doesn’t matter why. I would tell her that she just is.
Being a child who had her experiences filtered through a narcissistic father, I learned to doubt everything. Even my own existence.
I am decades away from that little girl. I feel a great deal of compassion for her. She looked so anxious and her stomach hurt so much. I wish that I could comfort her. I’d tell her how gorgeous, quirky and wonderful she is. I’d tell her her that she would see it too if she could just stop being so afraid and ashamed all of the time. I wish that I could take her to a place where she didn’t have to be afraid, a place where shame wasn’t a part of her daily life. I wish that I could free her from the straps that she felt holding her arms down and keeping her authentic self from emerging.
I can’t do that, though. She is always going to be that same little girl. I am closer to death than childhood now. Maybe it would have been better if I had been unbound at a younger age, but I can’t change that. In any case, I am glad that I feel those straps loosening up, maybe even falling away.
I still might not know why I am me…I just know that I am.
That’s good enough.