Social Identity (Coat Of Many Colours.) *Long naval-gazing self discovery post…

Before I realised that the identity and entire personality is a (completely necessary) construct, I believed in myself.

That is to say, I believed in what I perceived as myself, but in fact I believed in my personality.
I had no self-belief though, which I would categorise as something utterly different these days. I still don’t know about self belief actually. Maybe it’s something to brainwash myself with in meditation, or maybe it will never happen. Maybe, to believe in the ego self, the personality construct, is to believe inherently in separation from source, the whole: to believe in “otherness” as opposed to duality. Maybe though, self belief comes when one lets go of the idea of otherness entirely, something I’m trying to do but still finding difficult because I’ve only got other people’s word for it, essentially. Maybe I need to take some drugs and sort that shit out. First hand, as they say. Or maybe I could meditate and somehow get there without any assistance. I don’t really like the drug plan though, in honesty. It feels like I need to get there first on my own, and then the rest is playtime, drugs or not. I’m not big on narcotics apart from chocolate.
Somehow, somewhere along the road, I decided to ditch an idea that I’d had floating around in my subconscious mind that I was responsible for the contact in all of my friendships, and that if I wasn’t the one to make contact, I would lose these people entirely. In essence, a neediness in regards to social identity. Unfortunately perhaps, in letting go of that layer of my internal-personality-onion, it meant I had to also shrug off the idea of being nice by default and the idea of being liked. This has meant that, for the last year or so whilst this has been playing out in my varying degrees of consciousness or lack thereof, I have been utterly without the protection and safety of what I would call “a social identity.” Basically the social side of my personality just up and left me, (or maybe I left it?) and the rest wasn’t enough to keep me afloat in potentially awkward situations.
Now, for those of you who have known me over the last 12 years or so, you might find that quite difficult to believe… I used to give the impression I was somewhat unflappable and I used to pride myself on being able to defuse awkward/potentially awkward situations with ease, so much so that I would play with it and seem shameless. It was genuinely funny and was always done with a loving attitude, but nevertheless it was a compensation for the neediness aspect that I kept hidden as best I could.
Now though – NO idea how to do that. No idea how to behave unless I put a social mask on. Occasionally the mask will either slip (oh god oh god I’ve got to say something here what is expected of me right this moment what would be polite oh my god what would a normal person say what would I used to have said what would someone funny have said I once said something similar here shall I say it again would that be appropriate in this situation oh god the moment has passed and now there’s a weird halting gap in the conversation and the timing is off have they noticed maybe not probably they have oh god) OR the old mask will very briefly take over, let me say something WILDLY INAPPROPRIATE and then FUCK THE FUCK OFF, leaving my paddle-less self half way up shit-creek.
Thanks brain.
So that explains why I’ve been freaking out so badly before and after gigs. (Dread, tears, but weirdly not nerves. It’s actually fine when I get on stage because I have confidence as a musician.) It explains why I’ll fully intend to go out and see people and then bottle out just before I leave. It explains why basically I haven’t left my house unless I really had to.
The fact I left my social identity also explains why, on a few occasions I have met up with people… It’s like I’ve forgotten how to speak… I’m just listening, enjoying their company in the moment, vibing with them, but not having any output myself other than on an energetic level unless I make myself say things, and even then, those things are different to what past versions of myself would have said.
So. I’ve been hiding. Snake without skin. Observer.
The realisation came in piece by piece that my personality was not the enemy. The part of my personality that is nice by default is a really useful piece of me. I just don’t need the part that needs to be liked all the time! Nice by default is good, actually, but I don’t Have To Be Nice if it’s not sitting right with me in those circumstances.
But now, my friends have contacted me… as I feared they would not. I have shed the part of me that fears their loss. It’s more like I know they will come and go now, and that’s good. I know their lives will change and move and so will mine, and that is as it should be.
Gradually, not all at once or steadily, the personality self is coming back to me. Patchwork now. I can choose the design this time. Each piece a choice. Washed clean by attention.

But bear with me, all my loves, because it is a patchwork in progress and some of the pieces are in shadow.

Dolly Parton. Coat of many colors. Title song for the Coat of many colors album. Shown on the programme Country at the BBC, but originally from BBC Parkinson…

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