“I never said most of the things I said.”
When I feel brave enough and aware enough, I wonder how much of “me” is really me and not the fabrication of me that I cobbled together. It’s a fabrication built of social protocol, coping mechanisms, and family history, and it tends to run on autopilot.
Occasionally, I hear myself repeating things my mother said when she was alive. Things I thought were terrible then and make me cringe when I hear them come out of my mouth now.
Hearing her come back to life through me is like a bucket of ice water dumped on my head. It snaps me out of autopilot mode if only for a fraction of a second.
I did yoga nidra a few years ago and had an even more jarring experience. (Yoga nidra is sometimes referred to as sleeping yoga. Right up my alley because sleep is my favorite activity.)
In at least one session, I managed to detach from everything I normally associate with my personhood. All the social constructs, the jumble of thoughts and emotions, even the meat sack I inhabit and identify with fell away until all that remained was awareness inside an eternity of space. Almost as soon as I experienced that, I felt myself free-falling and grasping for all the bits of identity I’ve built up over the decades.
I watched the building blocks of my persona fall back into place beginning with early childhood. That was when I started to develop the quirks that might allow me to say, “This is who I am. This quirk right here. Yup. That’s me.” Only, it wasn’t really me.
It was just a reaction to my mother telling me to “just be yourself” to make friends. Until then, I was mostly an unnamable observer checking out the world around me. I had nothing discreet within me that I could point to as “me”. So I slowly built all those things: preferences, affiliations, language use, carriage. All of it. And what I’ve built is so familiar to me at this point, that I think the construct is really me.