By Neerja Shah

From the moment Julius pranced into my life, fourteen years ago, I had this predominant thought, “I am happy,” I am his, and he is mine. I am protected because of Julius, I am fulfilled because of Julius, I am responsible for Julius?
I am, I am…. am I Julius?

Last Friday when he transitioned, I was left all alone with just an ‘I’. In a split second, all that I am this and I am that, was snatched away.

What am I supposed to do with that ‘I’ now?

In a split second, all that I am this and I am that, was snatched away.

Have you ever felt that someone or something is so much a part of your physical, mental, and emotional identity, that you cannot distinguish the loss from their actually being there? Like a phantom limb that aches even after it has been severed?


Am I still a dog lady without her dog? Is he still the centre of my ‘i’dentity universe?

Our first identification, starts with the love we receive from our parents. We get attached to the identity that this unconditional love gives us. Its one of the building blocks to the identity, the self-sense, ‘aham akaar’.  It’s how we first acknowledge who we believe ourselves to be! Yet do you know, this very self-sense, aham, also known as ego, cannot be sustained by itself.

The ‘I am’ is also the greatest destructive power we possess, it is the trap that limits our framework… that which is the false sense of the I in the self. The vedas say you need an, I this or I that, because the  ‘I am’ is what manifests something and the ‘I’  is just that what exists.

The ‘I am’ is also the greatest destructive power we possess.

The ‘I’ will exist no matter what the ‘am’ is. I am my parents daughter, my sons mother, my husbands wife, dog mother…. whatever. Albeit with every ‘I am’ there is an action of feeling love/hate, happy/sad, angry/caring which keeps altering, ever changing or if you like, constricting each, ‘I am’!

I am restless, because though I have experienced many ‘I am’ roles, human mom to Julius was so precious and consuming, that I am questioning my ‘i’dentity.

Can I survive, be happy, live without this ‘I am’?

Since I know, that the ‘I’ develops an identity only when an ‘am’ is associated with it, I also know that there will be many more ‘I ams’.

For a moment I had forgotten how with each of my ‘I ams’ I have had a sense of fruition, of fulfilment. I am slowly beginning to understand and acknowledge, that even though there is this loss of ‘I am julius’s’,  I am so grateful and enriched by it’s precious existence. You come to realise that the joy of belonging and the loss that generates sorrow,  is the only sustenance. 

So I accept in reverence the many ‘I ams’ that are or have been mine and it is with a conscious lens of choice and a sense of anticipation that I look towards the new ‘I ams’ that will be mine.

Neerja Shah

Former Editor of Elle India & TV Producer

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