Who are you?

This morning at a parenting group I attend, the visiting speaker told us about an exercise she had learned during her counselling training. The counsellor sits opposite you and asks: “Who are you?” Whatever answer you give, she will ask you the same question again. And again. And again. Until you run out of answers.

I am one of the Hermione Grangers of the world. If someone did that to me, I would be looking for the right answer. The textbook answer. Trying to ‘guess what’s in the teacher’s head’. If they kept asking, I would get more and more frustrated, annoyed. Why had I still not got an A*? The trick is, of course, that all the answers are the right one, all of them reflecting how you see yourself.

When we were asked the question: “Who are you?” and given time to count how many answers we would give, instead I found myself writing a poem.


Who are you?

I am the sum of everything said
everything asked
everything thought of me
in a single day

I have shaped and curled
to fit and suit
to please and amuse
in every way

I am who you say I am
Who I wish I was
Who my mother thought
I ought to be
Who am I meant to be?
Which of these thoughts are mine?
What is there left of me
since I met all of you
out there in the world
and thought how nice it would be
if you never thought ill of me.

What lies inside this shell
down the tunnels
twists and turns
when I unlearn
all these faces
the voices that say
‘I distance myself,
I can still deny,
prevaricate or lie
if need be.’

Who is sitting round that final bend?

What she breaks
I cannot mend
What she speaks
turns to stone
She is a stranger
in my home
where she sits
all alone,

Who am I?
I cannot tell
cannot see inside this shell
I don’t know me very well

But you do
don’t you
the one who made
every hair and every nail.
Can we trade?
This maze of riddles is for you,
the need to please,
every time I fail,
the guilt that won’t fade
that impenetrable veil.

Then if you could sit inside that place
give the real me your fine face
clothe her in your glorious grace

And when they ask me “Who are you?”
Can I refer them on to you
and can your answer be mine too?

(c) Judith Kingston, 2013




9 thoughts on “Who are you?

  1. sarahmo3w says:

    That is fab. Sums up the confusion perfectly. We are all complex brings – different people to all the people in our lives, so hard to know who we are to ourselves.

  2. This is absolutely fabulous. I wish I could write like this πŸ™‚ It really does sum our complex selves up so well. I sometimes find myself being introspective about myself and this says it in words! Thank you for linking to Prose for Thought xx

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