For many years, I tortured myself with the question of whether or not there was a core being who was me. When I was deep into my Bipolar Disorder years of barely holding onto being functional and surviving (rather than living), I “fell in love with “existentialism.

I was, I concluded, little more than the force of my will and the sum total of my actions. What a barren, empty, depressing way to view oneself and the world. Particularly for someone with a serious mental illness.

Not only did I embrace Sartre’s, “Hell is other people.” I came to believe that Hell was ME too. I had no belief or faith in the consistency of my personality, knowledge, abilities, character traits, tendencies, feelings, or any of the aspects that coalesce to forge our core, consistent selves. And I despised me.

I was like a swirling pile of fall leaves. Constantly subject to the vagaries of the whipping winds of the world around me. And forced to repeatedly fight tooth and nail to be someone and prove myself. Defying the winds of shame and negation of self.

I am so grateful that over the 25 years that I have spent cultivating stability and sobriety I have had many loving, supporting teachers AND the spiritual development, support, and guidance of AA, to show me that I do have a core self that is real and consistent.

And while my story *my experiences* shape who I am, and, if I let them, mold me into a better form of me, they are not me.

You are someone.

You matter.

You are worthy.

And you are loved.

Photo Credit: MyKa McKinney

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