THE INNER MOST CORE
Philosophy has not been able to explain what the soul is. In religion, the soul is immortal and not of this world with its natural laws. Some say that the soul has a core that no one can touch but oneself. The soul some say is permanent and ageless, while the mind is mobile and changes throughout life, for example, one becomes forgetful, cranky, drunk depending on various physical phenomena, such as aging. But deep down, that which is one's self remains.
MY OWN STORY
When I was growing up, things were demanded of me that went against my nature. My soul lived in a psyche/consciousness that was too immature to deal with the threats around me and an incomprehensible reality where both mom and dad were kind one moment and hurt me or abandoned me the next. I needed to protect myself from the threats and at the same time tell myself that everything was fine. I needed to protect my siblings, take care of my parents when they were drunk, etc. Difficult experiences and heavy emotions were put on me. They encapsulated me, layer upon layer. Instead of growing up, and showing others that this is who I am, I was busy surviving.
THE SELF IS INVADED AND TORN
Bit by bit I processed my traumas. For me, a traumatic childhood included PTSD and DID. DID is the process of separating and isolating the difficult emotions inside. A small part of one's soul/psyche/identity/consciousness harbours the difficult experiences and that part feels like a stranger. That part is still at the same age it was when it was created.
LAYERS OF THE ONION
I was the onion. The famous onion that has layers upon layers and at the bottom is the core. The layers consist of behaviors, thoughts, needs, feelings and experiences. The core is where one's essence/soul lives and the parts protect this innermost truth/energy/love. There is the original individual, the one who was once born into the world even though this individual, or original self/part, has also been affected by being fragmented and feels fleeting. With therapy, this part can begin to land and begin to heal.
Happy, serious, boy, girl, brave, sensitive... Who you are. Then you explore all that in the course of your life, but you're still who you are, even though different things affect you.
Take gender identity, for example. We don't know why some people are transgender, whether it's because of the soul, the genes, the hormones in the womb. But young children know from the start whether they are a girl or a boy, no matter what their body looks like. Those who grow up in safe homes can express this and be heard. In my case, I was never given the space to be, so for me it took time before I could understand this. Before I could reach the place in my identity where the feminine and the masculine reside, because all people have both parts, though differently and in different ways. My soul is exploring this which was determined by my body/hormones - or maybe fate?
No trauma can change who you are inside. But - especially when you're young - you may think that your feelings and thoughts are the same as who you are. If you feel a lot of pain, you're a dull and annoying person - as a teenager, it can translate into that. But a feeling comes and goes and your essence remains. In a way, you are always as you should be, all through life. And yes, trauma does affect identity... though not really. It's more that trauma hides one's self in all the layers of the onion.