Who are you?
There's a meme making the rounds that goes like this: I truly believe that every single person has to go through something that absolutely destroys them so they can figure out who they really are.
Really? Did I need to go through the slow death of my youngest child to find out who I am? I don't think so.
Does tragedy build character? Maybe. Maybe not. There are plenty of people out there who have been destroyed and never make it back. Is that who they are? No. What they are is a shell of their former selves. That's not their true self.
But are there people for whom tragedy does build character? Absolutely. I'd like to consider myself among them. I am stronger, emotionally and mentally, no question.
These kinds of trite sayings, while they do make us stop and think, must be looked at a little more deeply. They are superficial quotes, skimming the surface of the human experience.
When I saw this meme posted, a lot of people agreed with it. I chose not to comment. Most people, thankfully, will never know the agonizing depth of pain associated with child loss. They cannot comprehend the kind of emotional torture that accompanies watching your own flesh and blood die.
Everything is relative though. Did these folks experience pain themselves? Most certainly. And did they think at the time they might not recover? Probably. I don't discount what they felt. I will never trivialize the suffering of others.
But I will call out simplified sayings that do not take into consideration the fact some of us have gone to places of darkness from which we cannot return. Thankfully, I have, somewhat. I don't think I've fully returned, nor do I believe I ever will. Some of me will remain in that darkness, huddled and utterly shattered. I choose to leave that part there, but I visit it occasionally. It's now a part of me, like it or not.
Is that who I am now? Yes. But did I need to go through something that destroyed me? No. I wouldn't wish this existence on anyone. We are at the mercy of our participation in life. Our experiences do mold and shape us, but they don't necessarily create who we truly are.