Healing 3 minutes to read

I have never lived on my own. In my entire adult life, I’ve been either married, a mom, or both.

I never intended to lose my identity, but there’s a reason it’s so cliché. My identity became one of the easiest and most satisfying things to surrender. This ended when I was empty nested. Being a mom of grown children and a wife in my late 40s can bring an immense amount of painful conclusions. One of which is that my lost identity no longer serves me.

Being lost in marriage and motherhood has been the joy of my life for a majority of my existence. It has filled me in a way that breathed life into my soul and has given me a deep sense of belonging, contributing, and fulfillment. It was easy to find value here.

In my case, it has been the place I’ve felt the deepest sense of worth. The problem is, when my kids became adults and my husband landed the job he’s always wanted, I realized—in my heart—I was living vicariously through them. Their joys were mine. Their hurts were mine. Their achievements, their battles; everything, all of it, had become intrinsically mine. 

This was a secret I kept from everyone, including myself. When I began to realize my codependency, I worked hard to not broadcast it. I didn’t want others to see how deeply enmeshed I had become.

The reality is, I have absolutely no idea how to truly be me. Just me. In all honesty, it feels selfish. But here is the truth I have come to know: loving others more than myself isn’t selfless when I use it to feed my identity

So, how will I love others selflessly?

  • I have decided to fall in love with myself.
  • I will pursue my own heart.
  • I will say kind, loving, things to myself.
  • I will take interest in my passions and encourage myself to pursue them.
  • I will date myself by spending time with myself.
  • I will smile at myself and tell myself I am beautiful.
  • I will not only compliment my looks, but my achievements, no matter how small.
  • I will do the little things for myself to remind me that I am important and worth pursuing.
  • I will pray for myself and won’t hold records of my wrongs.
  • I will establish reasonable boundaries for myself because healthy boundaries are part of loving someone. I know that keeping boundaries with myself equates to trusting myself and this affects my confidence.

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.

Mark 12:30-31

The truth is, I can love others better—more genuinely, more selflessly, more altruistically—when I learn how to love myself. I need to love myself like the One who lives inside of me and is daily changing me.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

1 Corinthians 13:4-5

By applying these things to my own life, hopefully there will be an overabundance of love, compassion, and grace that spills out as a result. And the identity that I long for, will start to resemble more of my true self: LOVE.

The views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are those of the author alone and do not reflect an official position of Pure Desire Ministries, except where expressly stated.

Avatar photo

Jennifer Howie

Jennifer is a certified Pastoral Sex Addiction Professional (PSAP) through the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP). She and her husband went through the Pure Desire Clinical Program and are passionate about walking alongside couples through their healing journey as proof that the Pure Desire process works. She has worked with hundreds of women who have experienced betrayal trauma, guiding them to the same healing and freedom she’s found.


  1. Julie

    I think most of us Moms feel this way. Love your honesty ????

  2. Stacy

    So much truth here, I can relate to much of it.

  3. Julie Hand

    Love this Jenn. I remember thinking some of those things many years ago — particularly how when I was filled I had so much more to give to others. It does feel selfish (and I’m aware I have made selfish decisions), but I see value in it, and Jesus. Blessings as you continue to grow and find your unique voice!

  4. Sue

    Thankyou love this vety much????

  5. Barbara Kibeti

    Wow Jenny, thank you for being vulnerable and sharing. This has thrown light on my issue of making other people my identity and getting frustrated every time situations change, every time I want them to do something in return! I must remember to love myself, that’s where loving others will begin from!!! I think????????

  6. Kelley Benson

    THIS: “loving others more than myself isn’t selfless when I use it to feed my identity.”

  7. Lori Buchanan

    Like I have always said Your a rock star!!! I’m glad your happy and I miss being around you and I’ve always thought you were amazing glad you see it!????❤️❤️❤️

  8. Corey Cherrington

    A beautifully written piece, Auntie Jen. 🙂 Your insight is so inspirational and clearly comes from years of experience.

Add a Comment

Recommended Posts