By Mallika Bhatia
With every relationship that doesn’t work, we leave a bit of ourselves behind. With every new role we take up, we change and hence alter a bit of ourselves forever. With every battle we lose, we end up losing another precious piece of who we are. Losing ourselves bit by bit, gradually and slowly happens to most of us and it often ends up making us sad. Very sad.
Almost 4 months ago, A client walked into my coaching practice with her beautiful baby. Her only aim with Life Coaching was to find herself back. She was a smart, educated, well-traveled, accomplished, married mother who had lost herself in the sea of all the roles she was playing.
Disconnected with herself is what she constantly felt. Sad and angry were her only two modes of operation at that time. At a rule book level, she had it all – a family, great career, health, money, friends & a social life. Ironically, these very things were making her feel lost. She said that she misses her old self dearly. She just wanted to be ‘herself’ again.
While she spoke, she reminded me of ‘me’ from a few years ago. After a personal tragedy, I was lost. My dreams were shattered, my plans didn’t work, I questioned each relationship I had, everything was going wrong and it was too painful. The easiest escape was to lose myself, so I chose that route. It made me numb and passing through this said phase became easier.
The grief of losing ‘me’ hit me only once the pain had passed.
Who had I become? What did I like now? Who were my friends? Did I have any? My questions were similar to those of my client.
I wanted to be alone. Mainly because I couldn’t trust those around me. Almost all the people I had expected to stand by me were gone. It is only with hindsight that I realise they were just playing their roles to get me to search for myself again. They forced me to think, to introspect and eventually to realise that maybe I had managed to lose a huge chunk of who I was. My reactions back then were different than my clients’. I oscillated between mistrust and disbelief.
Sadness, anger, mistrust, disbelief – no matter what our reactions were, they all pointed to the one thing in us – grief of losing ourselves. We reacted to them differently, we acted it out differently, our observable behaviour was poles apart, yet our core feeling was the same. We had lost touch with who we truly were.
Not knowing who I was left me with two choices:
a) was to numb myself further – this would have made the journey easier in the short run but it would have made sure that it was an almost worthless journey
b) was to find out who I was now – this was a tougher and a way more rewarding path.
Thankfully, I chose the second option. I started spending time in exploring the new ‘me’. It was the perfect time to rediscover myself. I had not truly lost any parts of me, I had just rejected them for not fitting into my preset mould of ‘me’. It did not match the image I had created for myself.
The grief would have come back if I had decided to reject the parts of me that were different now, so I decided to embrace them. I was on a wonderful journey of self-discovery and self- acceptance. This has been the most rewarding journey that I have ever been on. So many years later, I am still continuing my travel and have been luckily able to guide many fellow travellers through it.
Losing myself helped me find my new best friend – ME.
I learnt that with every new relationship we form, we create a new self and this new self is as much us as the other part who just likes to snuggle alone on the sofa. It is just a different part.
I discovered that I did not need to lose myself in a new relationship, I just had to embrace the relationship as a teacher, as a reflection and as a new platform to get to know myself more deeply.
Losing ourselves could be our biggest blessing because it is the only way we can find, the only way we can grow. Often, we gain the most by losing.