#febup2020 weekender week 3

Image: shari van Spronsen

FebUp 2020 Weekender
Week 3: (Part 1) Identity

Hey! It’s February y’all and that means another month of FebUp (#febup2020). 

Each year in this particular month I try to pick a theme that speaks to the mental health concerns of people I work for and live with. I post something on Instagram most weekdays with the hope that they will spark ideas, suggest practices, or create space for figuring life out together.  You can check it out @gottasecond.

In January 2020 I canvassed clients, bartenders, and friends about the two themes most on their mind. What would be most helpful to talk about? What were the questions people had? Turned out to be: anxiety and identity. This weekender blog will be a compilation for part of February Week 3, continuing with the theme of “Identity”.


It’s Family Day. 

Identity can come, in part, from our families—as rich or glorious as they are—or in spite of our families—as broken or bruised as they are.

Gleaned from family therapy sessions: most families have ‘rules’ that speak to values, norms, and ethics—whether stated/abided by or not.  Most families have an understanding about who the black sheep, the good girl, or the identified patient (wounded one) is. Also, most families resist change, even if there is rampant dysfunction.

Also, family identity is hard to transcend or transform. Generally, we have been swimming in the soup so long we have taken on its salty flavour. Ever notice your mature adult-self becoming your 10 year-old child-self when you visit your family?

Ever frustrated, embarrassed, or “tired” of your family, proud of your family, or glad to be one of the family? Are you one of a great many who long for a family or long to be re-parented or feel like an orphan after losing your parent(s)?

It’s complicated. But the hopeful part is that families can be built or rebuilt.  Committing to a group of supportive individuals can create a family, as can grafting into a new family, or forming your own. Starting a family give you a chance at stopping all sorts of family history or continuing a rich heritage.

One thing I hope—that we are known and loved by a few ‘believing mirrors’ (Julia Cameron). If some of them happen to be your actual family, that’s great but creating a new family and a new family identity is just as meaningful and wonderful.

I hope you are being enfolded into a family in whatever way makes sense for you. If not, start gathering the ‘mirrors’ and forge a new family group.


Discrimination: action based upon choices based upon what we think and believe. Harassment, micro-aggressions, benevolent sexism, prejudice, ostracism, genocide…there are so many ways to be hateful and violent.

A few areas where discrimination locates: 

  • Employment, Income, or Career Status
  • Gender and Sexual Diversity
  • Physical Features & Appearance
  • Singleness/Marital or Family Status
  • Age & Generation
  • Race/Ancestry/Place of Origin
  • Religious or Political Beliefs
  • Physical or Mental Disability
  • Systems and Institutions 

It’s hard to admit but I’m still working through this list, still wrestling with these things—privilege, socialization, dominant culture, experiences & fears, difference and indifference—I’m still working this out in ethical belief and practice.

It’s uncomfortable, challenging, and discouraging work to keep shoveling all the sh*t that keeps being dumped, but it’s not optional and it’s miniscule compared to what so many are smeared with every day. I have nothing to whine about.

Here are a few questions about discrimination and identity I am thinking about these days. Maybe they will resonate with you as well.

Who do you think you are? Who informs those thoughts? Who told you what you are or can be? Where are you located? What’s next to axe off your list? Who can support your work? Who will you stand beside and fight for? What deep and personal work is needed for change to happen?

I believe this even so: people are wonderfully and gloriously made, capable of great damage but also of great healing and restoration work. 

That’s a wrap for the FebUp2020 Week 3 theme of Identity. I’ll be switching to the topic of anxiety.  Look for it in the next installment of Weekender.

Peace to you and your household,
Shari van Spronsen, MC, RCC, CCC


IG account: https://www.instagram.com/sharivanspronsen/
Previous FebUp posts: #febup2018; #febup2019
Current posts: #febup2020
For this web blog, use the search terms “anxiety” or “identity”

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