Making of Me

What if someone asked you today to define yourself, all that is you, who you are and what makes up the core of you. Could you do it?

One of my favorite bloggers, Rebecca “Sweet Mother” Donohue, did just that the other day in her three hundred and fortieth post (I am half way there and in awe of this number), What Made You (#340)? Her post got me thinking, even as I read and sometimes giggled I was thinking about what made me what I am. Rebecca asked a question, “What made you?”

My answer to her question was simplistic, it was also the only way I knew to answer on someone else’s blog, it was this.

My history forced me to make the best of me. My future forces me to see what is possible for the rest.

I look at that answer I think, what does that really mean? Big picture, little picture all of us are cobbled together from so many different experiences, so many different sensory inputs and so many  choices we make through the course of a lifetime. What really sticks?

So, I thought to myself, I want to take that answer and expand it. I want to try to pick apart what is important and trace the roots back to what made me.

scan0028My Parents Made Me: all of them, each in their own way contributed to how I view relationships both inside and outside of family. Most people only have one set of parents, I have three and half sets each individual added to who I am over my lifetime. Of course, my biological parents contributed my DNA but more than this, when I met them in my twenties they gave me a sense identity. My adoptive parents showed me the world and expanded my opportunities, they also taught me survival instincts and unfortunately hate. My adoptive father and my heart mother taught me the most important lesson of all, don’t settle for anything short of real love. My heart mother made me more compassionate, she taught me to see others with empathy and to forgive shortcomings, she taught me to heal.

Travel Made Me: exposure to the world made me, it broadened my horizons from a very early age. Travel made me more willing to accept what wasn’t exactly like what I had at home and even welcome what020 Venice San Marko 6504 was different. World travel made me look for adventure, excited by new stamps on my passport and miles in my airline bank. Travel wiped out the jingoistic attitude we Americans so often have that cause our “Ugly American” reputation worldwide. Travel seeped into my blood and spirit at a very early age, I have had a passport since I was six and never let it expire. Travel taught me there is wide-world out there that think and do differently than me.

Dance Made Me: as a very young child, I was Pigeon Toed, drastically so. I wore really ugly corrective shoes (when anyone could get me into them). Finally a doctor suggested Ballet might help to correct both my posture and my Pigeon Toedness (is that a word?). Off we went, beginning Ballet at barely five (5), even before I saw my first Nutcracker Suite. I was lost forever after, even when the teacher hit my toes to point them out. I was lost, linda2even when she cracked my knees to bend them properly. I loved dance I specifically loved ballet. I loved the discipline of it. I loved the movement, I would move furniture in the living room and dance when no one was home. I would practice form in my bedroom using the window as my barre. Dance taught me self-discipline and beauty.

The Men in My Life Made Me: not telling who or how many, not important. The men in my life both those I married and those I didn’t made me who I am. This is true whether we ended well or on the other end of the spectrum and ended nightmarishly. The men I have chosen to partner with over my lifetime have taught me enormous lessons about myself, life, forgiveness and obviously love. Whether those lessons were how to walk away and rebuild or how to love someone who failed me, all of these lessons made me. There was a time when my heart was set behind a steel door, the key was in a bottomless sea and I had no space in my life for love, no patience for fools in love. Over time, the men in my life including brothers, fathers, lovers and husbands have taught me better and thus made me who I am today.

The Women in My Life Made Me: I have been mostly fortunate in my friends, blessed in the longevity of my friendships. The women in my life have enriched me in more ways than I can ever say. Though cautious in who I let in I have been uncommonly privileged; when I am unlucky even then, I have learned lessons I apparently needed at the time.  All the women in my life have made me, from mothers, sisters to heart sisters, friends and mentors.

The Convicts in My Life Made Me: sounds strange doesn’t it, for nine years I have walked a road I never thought to walk, speaking about what happened to me twenty-one years ago to offenders. Speaking in a program intended to teach Empathy to Offenders based on the experiences of real victims, like me. When I started down this path, I was so angry still my fury was white hot I could not imagine how I was going to stand in front of a room of Convicts and not lash out. I made it through that night and many more since then. I have expanded speaking to Juvenile Offenders in the Sex Offender program, because it is important. How do they make me? Because they have stories, because their humanity exists right alongside mine and I have learned compassion and empathy as I stand up and tell my story and listen to theirs.

There is more that went into the making of me, I know there is more, some of it terrible.

  • Violence made me. I have let it go, I will not allow what was done to own my future.
  • Rape made me. I have let it go, my past does not own today or my future.
  • Pain makes me even today, it does not own me though.
  • Divorce and abandonment made me, it does not own me it does not convince me of my worth.

Writing makes me today, I am learning a craft I thought I had no talent for but I am finding my voice and my heart in it.

What makes you?

Comments

  1. The Farris Family says:

    I love this!! Great concept and lovely execution. xoxo

  2. POooooWERFUL post, Val,
    I love your honesty. I love how your “PAIN” even MADE you. WOW.—Amazing. You are amazing.
    PS. I got some mail today. My heart filled up. Thank you, dearest. Xxxxxxxxxx

  3. Val…….. what ever made you Val… You turned out to be One fine lady who I admire greatly .. And without the pain and our traumas in life, we would not be who we are, for each moulded us to become who we are today..
    And for all of my own past pain, which I may add seems to only scratch the surface of your own suffering… It too has made me who I am today…
    Bright Blessings sent you way Val
    Sue xox

  4. Ah Valentine, you are a special soul, thrown into the tumble drier of life but always coming out all warm and cuddly.

  5. This is an inspiring post, Valentine. Some introspection similar to this, at intervals in our lives, works wonders.

  6. Love this post, Val!

  7. Another strong post that we come to expect from you. If nothing else, you have initiated thoughts in all your readers.

  8. This was a wonderful piece val. You write so powerfully and profoundly and you have every right to be proud of the magnificent human being who has evolved through those experiences.. ( I loved your dancing days!)
    And what you say has made me think… where have I got to now, in this business of assessing who I am and what I have done with my life. As the years go by, the answer seems to change…

    • Valerie thank you. I tried hard to get to only the core, not the sideways things. What are the those things that truly made me who and what I am. Many things over a lifetime affect us, build on our core, but they aren’t necessarily us. So I tried to stick with the truth of me. It is strange when you think of yourself in this way what you find at that core.

      I loved my dancing days also. I danced for years. Even when my body betrayed me and I knew I wouldn’t become the prima ballerina of my dreams I still danced, still took classes. Expanded my horizons into jazz and modern dance simply for the movement and joy of it. Far into my adult years, long past many injuries I still danced. It was that simple joy of movement, one of those things that defined me to myself for a very long time. One of the things I missed most when I could no longer do it.

  9. An unbridled sharing, Val

    I’ve held your writing in high regard and now my respect for the person behind those words has shot up many many notches – not that it was low to begin with.

    Peace and all good wishes, Eric

  10. What an honest assessment! Experiences like those you mentioned can make or break a person. In most there’s a spirit of survival that helps us through. I remember going through one of those downers in life where everything worked for was suddenly and unfairly snatched away. A well meaning person seeking to encourage me pointed to a wound on his leg. He said it took a long time to get over the pain of this wound, but eventually it went. Now I can look at that wound and remember the pain without feeling it or allowing it to control my life. I hated him for it at the time, but now I see wisdom in what he was trying to communicate to me. Indeed we will never forget the events, but having moved on we can look at them without the excruciating pain they gave at the time.

    • That spirit of survival is actually I think more a animal instinct to physically survive but not necessarily to come out the other end of any event whole. It is why I rarely refer to myself as a victim, instead a Victor or a Thriver.

      I understand what that person was telling you, hard to hear when we are sitting in the debris of our life. Easier when we look back.

  11. What an interesting question to ask ourselves. The answer may vary too, depending on the mood we have that particular day. I like to think I am not complete and have more pieces to lay to my self over time xx

    • I would hope none of us our complete, that we continue to grow and our horizons continue to expand. I suspect though, some things remain fairly consistent. Some parts of our internal map remain pretty well marked. Those are the pieces I tried to identify and name.

  12. Another brave post! We must accept our past to go forward to the future.

    • It was a wonderful inspiration, different to write and interesting to explore. You are absolutely correct, we do have to accept our past to move forward. I think though even more to the point, sometimes we have to embrace it.

  13. OH Val, what a great piece. It’s so thought provoking. I’m glad writing has brought us together to explore these things!

  14. We’re all shaped by the circumstances into which we’re born and the people who occupy that realm. Then, we each have to take those elements and finalize our own souls. That, in and of itself, is a constant work in progress!

    • A work in progress indeed, but some things they are core. Some things I think we look and say to ourselves, that thing right there yes that is part of the core me. Many things might expand and contract over time, I hope so really. I hope none of us ever remain exactly as we are but grow and learn always. But, some things yes, I think somethings are core.

  15. This post made me think. And truly I love this… “Writing makes me today, I am learning a craft I thought I had no talent for but I am finding my voice and my heart in it.”
    Me too.

    • I am guessing there are a few of us who are finding both voice and heart. For me, this was such a step both the opening of locked doors and the finding of a talent I had long since thrown over.

  16. Very strong post – enjoyed it immensely

  17. what a great post valentine! I got asked the same question a couple of days back by a friend. I promised her I would answer it in a post and then pushed it aside for lack of time. This has inspired me to fulfill my promise too 🙂

  18. Your manner of taking back your power and healing through talking to the offenders is inspiring. In my work, I speak to so many people who are angry, who are hurting, who are overwhelmed. And most of them are stuck, but cannot see there is a way out. I am so glad for you that you refuse to be stuck.

    • I suspect there are days when any of us can be overwhelmed, angry or just plain old hurt. I know I am. It is just that over time I have learned to pick the battles, not fight the wars. The way out for me was always to see myself as part of something more, part of humanity. It took a very long time though, it wasn’t overnight. I still get angry, still get stuck; it is just now I know how to get past it and how to let myself feel those emotions without being ruled by them.

  19. i loved this, vals. i also love that you truly get what I’m trying to do in my posts. in a way that not everyone always does. and i loved reading about what made you. a truly fascinating read. much love, mother

    • I am so glad you visited this one since you inspired it, causing me to think and consider those portions of me that were poured into the empty spots. I try always to read between the lines, loving your passion and the humor you bring to even difficult subjects, making us think and consider ourselves and the world. As I said, one of my favorites.

  20. I loved your post,write up about everything that made you. no. no one should have gone through so much pain, but it did and it tested every fibre of your being
    we have a saying in Hindi- sona tap ke kundan banta hai, which means diamond or gold they all go through test of fire time and sweat to become what they are…
    am so proud of you Val and you must know you are a huge inspiration, i come here to draw courage and positivity from your inner strength and patiece of himalaya
    love ya…

    • Oh Soma, you humble me. Thank you. I wonder if I say that right. I will have to write it down and ask one of my Indian friends to say it for me tomorrow.

      Patience, that I am learning. It is the single virtue I struggle hardest to learn.

      I love you as well and welcome you back whenever I see you.

  21. I, too, am a cobblestone identity. I think I shall take this exercise. Suffice the short answer to be a kaleidoscope. I love your answers. You are a wonderfully talented and beautiful person I am proud to call sister. ❤

    • I hope you do take this one on, link back to me when you do. Perhaps we will get a chain going. You are as always my heart sister, a wonderful place to be.

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