Have you ever lost yourself?
That may be an odd question, but I am sure many people know what I am talking about.
You hear from friends, “I miss the old you”, or “Where did that person go, who used to be __________” (insert quality here).
Well, over the past few weeks of my new life, I keep catching glimpses of this stranger in my mirror. I have actually done a double take on a few occasions and had to look again while washing my hands or putting on makeup. I am looking at a familiar stranger, who I thought had left my life years ago. She is not ALL there, but I can see bits and pieces of who I once was.
One of my closest friends made a comment not long ago, and it shook me to my very core. She was texting me and asking me how I am doing, since my breakup with my 9-year long partner. I told her I was doing “okay” and that I was looking forward to finding my new normal.
“I cannot wait to see my best friend Christina return. I have been mourning her for years. She was a beautiful person”.
Her text caused a gasp to escape my mouth. I had NO idea that she had been mourning the loss of who I once was. It made me wonder if I was mourning that loss as well? It felt as though she sent me an excerpt from my own eulogy, and in that moment, I felt anxiety and sadness take over.
The Return of Christina
I recently had dinner with my closest friend, my daughter and her boyfriend. It was my daughter’s first time meeting this friend and she seemed to welcome the opportunity, although with apprehension.
By our first drink landing on the table, delivered by our server, the 4 of us were laughing, making jokes, and having fun together. By the time our meals were served, we were all engaged in conversation, and enjoying the company of one another. We spent an extra hour lounging after dinner, and then for coffee at my daughter’s house, just so we didn’t have to part ways.
The next morning, we all met for breakfast and had a do-over of a fun meal, and a day of shopping together.
It was absolutely amazing.
My heart was light and happy, and I didn’t want time to pass. I wanted to bottle up the laughter, the smiles, and the pleasant day and keep it for a souvenir. It was an absolutely beautiful weekend.
Where I Was Before I Came Back
Time with my daughter and my partner was strained and awkward.
He had no patience for my daughter’s and my humor. He had no tolerance for my daughter’s lifestyle, and our time spent together was always kept low key. Most days, I couldn’t wait to leave my daughter’s side, to spare her the anxiety that my ex caused her and I. I felt as though spending time with my partner and her together caused her an unhealthy disservice.
There was very little laughter. Conversation was dark and deep, and when it came to eating in restaurants, my daughter never wanted to take my ex to a “nice” place, for fear that he would cause it to carry his negativity.
I was medicated to tolerate the anxiety and most days I felt robotic, just making small talk and trying not to stir the pot between the two of them. It was nothing less than brutal.
But, those days are thankfully behind me.
My Mirrored Reflection
I have never been one to stare at myself in the mirror. I am typically the “one” who has something on her face, whether it be pasta sauce, or chocolate, for hours, until someone points it out to me. I have been known to avoid mirrors at all costs because it is difficult to see who is looking back at me.
Lately, though, I stop and look again. Not because I feel more shallow, or more like my looks are more important. I look back in fascination.
I am mesmerized by the woman I see in the glass.
Somehow, she seems stronger, smarter, and softer. She appears to have new laugh lines and fewer cares. Her complexion is brighter, and a new glow is on her cheeks.
There is this new thing that crosses her lips, and it took me a while to realize that it is a smile. A simple smile.
Her eyes seem slightly brighter, and she seems like she has a slimmer face than I remember. But, there are these moments when I actually feel comfortable with what I see. I no longer feel like that human image staring back at me is rolling her eyes and asking what the fuck I am doing? I no longer feel as though my reflection is asking me to rethink my life.
And that is a wonderful thing.
I am not always proud of this, but I have made self alterations to my body and to my brain over the years. I am sure a lot of people have done this as well.
However, the reasons for my plastic surgery, my mind shifts and my mental breakdowns have been because of low self-esteem. I have always had the mentality that I was never “good enough” and that changes needed to be made, in order to be up to everyone else’s standards.
Little by little, step by step, I am developing a new appreciation for who I am. I have always been extremely humble, easily intimidated, and emotional. It is who I am, and I am okay with that.
What I am not okay with is having other people get inside my head and make me feel less than who I am. I am hoping those days are vanishing in the rear view mirror, as I roll through my new life.
No matter who comes into my life, who I fall in love with in the future, or who I have in my social circle, this new me will not fall victim to their standards of who I should be.
No one should EVER be someone designed by other people’s expectations or wishes. No one should EVER fall victim to the desires of someone else’s image of who you should be.
If you feel like you are losing who you are, because someone else tells you what you need to be- RUN! Get the hell out of there!
You are YOU. Nobody else on this earth will ever be who you are, and comparing yourself or changing yourself to become someone who is acceptable to another person is NO LIFE. Instead of a quality, healthy way to live, it becomes a vision in your mirror that is distorted.
Every day, as I see myself re-appearing in my mirror, the fun-loving, humorous, caring, loving, happy person I used to be, I can’t help but welcome her into my new home, even though she looks a bit older.
She has learned valuable lessons, has endured trauma and has struggled through mental health and physical health challenges over the past 9 years. I forgive her for aging and maturing.
I look forward to becoming reacquainted with my old new self, and I will never allow her to become lost again.