Trail Blazers

Identity Crisis

Proverbs 18:24
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
woman looking to a mirror
Photo by Tainá Bernard on

Who Am I?

In H. Norman Wright’s book, Recovering from Losses in Life, he explains death in a broader sense than my perspective of death; not simply the death of the person, but everything that represented them—also, the death of a marriage and everything that represented the marriage, good or bad. And now I am experiencing the death of my identity. First, I identified myself as a wife, mother, and grandmother. Then, I recognized myself in my profession. Now, here I sit, wondering who the hell I am!? I can’t say I lost my identity after my divorce. Children identify themselves by the words spoken over them first by their parents’ words, such as seeds of destruction, failure, blessing, or success. We need to choose our terms wisely and rewrite our script. I’ve learned in my recovery from co-dependency; our spoken words don’t fall on deaf ears to a child; they absorb every word we speak over them. Sadly, if the child doesn’t experience a healthy attachment with their parents, the seed of destruction takes hold of their tiny hearts and minds and produces rotten fruit. Second, we identify ourselves by learned behaviors from the actions of those around us. Again, first, our caregivers from birth to friends. The book of Proverbs says, “One with unreliable friends soon comes to ruins, but a friend sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

Even the mothers and fathers in the Bible named their children according to their birth. Like Rachel, when she had Benjamin, she called him, Ben-oni, but Jacob quickly changed his name because his mother cursed him before she died (Genesis 35:16-21). Rachel called him a child of pain because she suffered great distress during his delivery, and before she died, she cursed him. In his podcast, Phil in the Blanks, Living by Design: Move from Being Right to Being Happy, Dr. Phil also talks about turning our ears inward and listening to the words we tell ourselves. What I appreciate about Dr. Phil is he is fearlessly blunt. For example, he says, “Ego is not your Amigo!” I hold to those words because my ego is opinionated, critical, and judgmental. Daily, when my ego starts talking about someone in my mind, I thank her and ask her to remove herself from the throne of my mind and remind her that Jesus is Lord. 

I thought of grieving as something we get over quickly, but later realized this process is as profound as the universe or the neurons in our brains; the complexity is beyond comprehension. Like a bug trapped in a spider web, we have untangled ourselves from the devil’s traps. But we’re not alone; Jesus helps us when we ask and trust Him to bring people to help us get untangled from lies and cognitive dissonance; we can’t do this alone. We need professional help, and I often share resources on my page because healing comes from those who walk alongside us and help us reframe our perspective from the inside out. So many layers need to be pulled back and exposed, such as shame and denial, and at times, I feel overwhelmed. Sometimes, I want to quit, but someone will come alongside me, redirecting me from despair to hope; no one is perfect; we all need help in our life’s journey. Life is not walking blissfully through a field of sunflowers. We forget the snakes hiding in the brush and the traps set before us, the thorns on the ground that cut our souls, such as the people who desire to harm us or those who bash us with harsh words.

Another thing is acceptance. When I lay in the hospital bed in 2012, and no one was with me, not even my ex-husband, the reality of his indifference toward me and some family members, as painful as it was, I had to accept that they did not care about me. I spent years as a married, single person, lonely and depressed; I wanted to give up, but instead, that catalyst moved me to return to school shortly after being released from my weeklong stay in the hospital. When I was released, I drove myself home; there were no accolades, no flowers, no food, and I had three cents in my bank account. Sadly, you learn who your real friends are. However, I allowed shame to silence me. Finally, I spoke up about the abuse the second time hospitalized after I read on the last line of the admittance form, “do you feel safe at home?” I spoke up, and by doing so, I was surrounded by an army of family, friends, and professionals who gave me the strength to fight for myself; shame is another unreliable friend who isolates us. For those who want to break free and move on, we have to fight like David when he was in exile, hiding from King Saul, who was jealous of David’s successes, and God’s favor; Saul tried to kill David. I want to move on with my life, but as time moves slowly during these times, I realize Jesus’ patience for us to be identified in and through Him; we need to do our part on our journey to recovery and healing. Jesus says that the truth sets us free, but the truth about ourselves is more painful because we must look inward; it’s easier to blame others. However, if we don’t take responsibility for doing the work on ourselves, we remain crippled and stuck in a cage of despair while the door is wide open because we learn helplessness by not doing our job. I am not saying I have reached the milestone of full recovery; this is a life-long process until I go home to be with Jesus. However, we can become trailblazers and encourage others by sharing our stories to inspire them to recover. 

References: H. Norman Wright, Recovering from Losses in Life,

Dr. Phil, Phil in the Blanks, Being Right or Being Happy

Help and Resources: