Photo by Marie-Michèle Bouchard on Unsplash

The Loneliness of Immigration (Part 1 of 2)

When Identity Becomes a Trap

Author’s Note: Written in April this year, this post will serve to paint an image of where I was. It’s a reminder to me of why I write — and why everyone should — to time-travel, freeze thought, and reflect. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about the present. Today — we go back in time.

I don’t feel like myself today. I don’t feel like I’ve ever known who I am and why I do anything, for that matter.

For a long time since I got here, I’d been going through an amazing period understanding my identity and how it was mostly formatted by my need for validation from others — especially my parents.

I had gotten to a point where I was getting proud of my own thoughts, my own weirdness, my own faults, and even my strengths.

But today, I feel like I after deconstructing this identity I thought I had, I have nothing left.

I don’t know who I am. What I want. Why bother? Why do anything, anymore?

I don’t know what I’m really good at. I don’t know what I’ve accomplished my whole life. And I don’t know if I’ll ever accomplish anything because it seems everything that I ever did, I never really understood why and may never.

In fact, I’ve been fixated on the subject of happiness for a few hours now and truly wondering if it exists.

And if it does, what is it?

If it doesn’t, then why are we here?

In the same vein, I was hit with the personal realization that at some point we all just accept that being an adult means doing what must be done whether or not we enjoy it.

And now I wonder what will be the price for me to become an adult.

I had this conversation with my wife today and as much as she was trying to help me, she couldn’t. Mostly because I don’t know if I want her to help.

I don’t know if I want anybody to help.

There are things and people and situations that I’ve not had in a long time and now that there’s been this separation from a life I once understood, I’m now faced with the truth of my lack of a unique identity core.

It seems everything I ever did, every word, every action, every woman I dated, was more of a consequence than an action.

I can’t, for the life of me, at this moment right here, find any source of joy or happiness which is directly linked to something I did, by myself.

Who am I?

Can I exist without others?

If there are no patients, are you still a doctor?

I asked my wife this and she answered no.

My conclusion is that without others, we can’t be. Without parents, siblings, laws, systems, humans, without others, we simply don’t exist.

I suppose this is what leads to the ‘If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it’ dilemma.

I’m seeing a different side of myself today: a more nihilistic version. Colder. Intellectual. Prone to sharp anger and sharp sadness. But non-existent joy.

I had quite a show of dark humor (which of course was misunderstood as deflection when in fact I’m not in the mood for any such methods. As you can guess, that got me upset that one would think I’m deflecting an opportunity to embrace life’s magnificent joke).

I don’t feel like myself. But I also wonder if this isn’t my true self.

Unabashed. Emotionally unstable. Incapable of mapping my thread of life from past to future.

The last thing I need right now is pity. In fact, I can now feel how much I want someone to engage in this conversation without making any allusion to how bad I feel (I know this is a lot to ask, but I feel too down to care about my requirements at this point).

I miss my friends. I miss people who understand that I’m not a nice person. People who don’t expect me to be great at things I am not great at. People who accept that I’m afraid and not try to encourage me because they know, they just know that the kind of encouragement I need is often unspoken silence and a good dirty joke at the right time.

I miss getting drunk in parties, screaming at the top of my voice, surrounded by people who respected me as much as I respected them. People who were smart, really, really smart and didn’t need to try to sound smart because they just were.

I think I’m depressed. I’m not sure. I think I have been for a few days and that in the past years, I’ve been able to morph it into ‘sadness’ or cover it all up in the noise of a new country and my wife’s inability to pick up on my subtle cues.

I need help. But I have no fucking clue what kind.

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

I don’t know if anyone can help. I mean, if I knew what I needed and who to go to, I think I’d gladly rush there 😆

What a friend helped me realize is just how much we change with all that’s going on and all that happens to us, and how we start discovering parts of us we never knew we had.

Our identity is shifting and we can’t accept it.

So, we’re in a constant fight with everyone and everything: past, present, future, law, government, family, etc.

We have things we want to accomplish and things we’re scared to give up on. Because if we suddenly don’t enjoy this thing we defined ourselves by, now, we have to shatter what we thought we knew about ourselves.

That’s fucking scary.

And the real hard part is that no one can really understand your current position. Because no one has a full grasp of your past, your image of yourself and all the things attached to your identity now being threatened by reality.

Photo by Karina Vorozheeva on Unsplash

When I say I’m recovering it’s because I’m trying all I can to figure out who I am now.

Like, I need to accept that I’m not just who I thought I was. And also realize that even that identity will change with time.

So, my recovery is really about noticing what I do.

Things like the fact that I’m not a nice person. I am too sensitive. I love talking about strange things — I need it to stay sane.

I’m literally relearning who I am.

Or maybe, I get to decide, with intention, who I want to be.

Thank you for reading! You can follow me on Medium for daily stories and subscribe to my youtube channel for videos.

Cameroonian writer and video creator. Featured in LEVEL and P.S. I Love You. I write about building relationships and personal transformation.

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