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I Lost My Identity As A Woman When I Had My Child

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I Lost My Identity As A Woman When I Had My Child

I used to be a real somebody. A high achiever. A name. A top student. A success. I was a career woman: ambitious, directed, focused…a hardworking visionary. Until the moment she was born.

When my daughter, Cassie, was born a switch flipped inside of me from "person" to "mother." I could never have expected it and if anyone told me it would happen, I wouldn’t have believed them.

But one day, about a month after my daughter was born, I remember taking a walk around the block with my husband, our new little baby in a sling attached to my body, and saying to him, "I can’t go back to work and leave her with a sitter."

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Basically, I was leaving my old life behind to be a full-out, full-time, full-on mother.

Photo: Author

Cassie was now the center of my world. I stopped working, and I nursed every hour of the day and night. I carried her everywhere I went and she cried any time I put her down. I was exhausted and frustrated but determined to be the best mother I could possibly be.

One day I got a call from a past business colleague who described an exciting business venture and asked me to join him. But I had no desire. No motivation.

I just couldn’t imagine leaving my daughter even for a few hours. Just the thought was like ripping off a part of my body.

I didn’t even realize I was under the spell of motherhood until I got divorced. Suddenly, my children, who I had been around every moment of every day and night were now with me only half of the time. I didn’t know what to do with myself when they weren’t with me.

My ex-husband even tried to be helpful by gently suggesting, "You should learn how to have fun again." But fun wasn’t an option because I was so depressed. I had no idea who I was anymore.

I was going through a motherhood identity crisis.

Photo: Author

Now that those days are behind me, I see the gift. But it can be really hard to find the silver lining in a difficult situation while it’s happening.

I had been an ambitious young career woman. When I became a mother, everything changed. I became a fiercely loving mother. Next, I moved into the divorced, broken person who eventually bloomed into the woman I am today.

I am all of those things — a whole, rich, experienced human being. I thought I lost myself when I became a mother, but I couldn’t actually lose myself, I could only lose the concept of who I thought I was.

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What I found underneath was an even more interesting, special, caring, loving, resilient person than had existed before. The real me. The one that is still here.

Having your identity crushed is a blessing in disguise. At times, in our lives, we get really hung up on our status: the A-plus student, the smart one, the captain of the football team, the star performer, the perfect mom.

Photo: Author

We think these labels ARE us. It isn’t until they are gone, and often times ripped away, that we get to see those labels weren’t "us" at all. Why? Because we are still here.

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We are still here after the walls have come crumbling down. We are still here after massive heartbreaks, disappointment, and failure.

We are still here and the sense of identity that you thought was "you" wasn’t actually "you." And that’s a good thing!

Because if "that" had been you, you'd be gone. But you’re not, you’re still here. And because you're still here, you can be anything you desire. So the question is, who do you want to be in this next phase of your life?

Ani Anderson is a master coach, speaker, business mentor, and author.

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