We are more than the sum of our parts.
I recognize this, and I recognize that I am more than the sum of my roles: wife, daughter, sister, friend. Writer, baker, Ph.D. candidate, admirer of the seaside.
I believe that these roles do not define me. If I were to lose every single title by which I'm known, I know that my soul would abide. And yet.
I cling to these roles like a skirt to pantyhose. Somehow I can't separate the act of removing emotional attachment to these roles from the act of losing a significant part of who I am. I don't know how to cherish the enjoyment I get from baking without then falling to pieces when the cake turns out dry and crumbly.
I spent a year in France, studying the language, devouring the delicacies. I blossomed, finally released from the shyness that blocked the fun, creative, loving energy that I had been afraid to convey. And I was so funny, you guys. And then I came back to the States, and asked my best friend: "What are the top three adjectives you would use to describe me?" (Doesn't everyone love that question?). And funny wasn't in the top three. I was crushed, confused. "But," I protested to myself, "I have shed the layers of shy Elyssa to reveal hilarious Elyssa underneath! The true Elyssa, who happens to be wicked, ridiculously funny! Top-three caliber funny, even.
And now I realize that yes, I'm funny. I want you to think I'm funny, obviously. Sometimes I'm shy. And I get easily offended when my perceived foundation -- the person I've always believed myself to be -- is threatened in some way. Somehow I've forgotten that there's something even deeper than those layers, something unextinguishable. Something wholly different from the roles I play and the adjectives I attach to myself. And I'm ready to relinquish that dependency.
And so I find myself back at Lesson 2 of A Course in Miracles: "I have given everything I see in this room [on this street, from this window, in this place] all the meaning that it has for me."
I'll report back soon.