How to let go of an old identity, an older version of ourselves we've known and befriended is a real struggle. It's a version that has kept us safe in tough times and we hate to say goodbye to it. I had an experience of this with a client recently. A few days ago I was in session with a client (let's call her Mary) who started our time together with, "I don't know why I'm here, but I felt a nudge to contact you." It's not uncommon for clients to show up in my zoom room saying these words.
I asked Mary a series of questions to get a sense of what her struggle was. Mary had recently vacationed in Northern California where she swam, hiked, read, and fluidly wrote 170 pages of her new book. So much so that she bought a house there and set a date to move. When she returned to Chicago where she lives, all the good feelings evaporated and she was feeling some dread around her upcoming move.
As I investigated the source of her dread, she blurted out the words, "But she won't know where to find me!" Mary was worried that her mother who had died years ago wouldn't be able to locate her when she moved to CA.
Now that she was back in her regular surroundings, the mojo to write her book was gone, she felt the usual exhaustion, and she was busy taking care of all her clients but not herself.
Mary's identity was tied up in being a savior. Taking care of everyone's needs. Unable to say no to clients. It was her pattern. She'd spent all her life caring for her mother until her mother's passing.
She was locked into a belief that her worthiness was attached to her identity as "the daughter who cared." When her mother passed, she turned to her clients and her daughters and claimed her savior role in serving them, with little regard for her personal well-being.
In a flash I connected the dots. It came to me. This was an identity crisis. Mary connected with her true, vivacious, fun self on vacation and felt free. But when she returned home she dragged the old identity of her "caretaker" role back into herself.
Mary's fear of her mother not being able to find her was related to her new identity, the one she discovered while on vacation. Her mother wouldn't recognize her if she shed her old identity of the one who was responsible and took care of everyone.
When I explained this to Mary, she burst into tears.
"You're afraid to die to the old you. If you do, your mother won't know who you are. But the old identity doesn't bring you the lightness of spirit you desire."
We spent the rest of the session designing a symbolic ritual for Mary to thank her old identity, bless it, and let it go. Only then would she be able to open up space for new joys and freedom.
Mary left my zoom room smiling from ear to ear. She emailed me the next day to let me know how much better she was feeling in creating the letting-go ritual and setting the intention to claim and enjoy her new life.
All of this powerful work happened in a Single 60-minute session she signed up for. I've opened up a few spots, if you'd like one.