The me of old used to be sassy, sarcastic, and not afraid of anything. I used to be friendly and outgoing, and I truly thought I could change the world for the better. I always believed the best in people and that, deep down inside, people were good and kind.
Today, I look at old pictures of myself and, even though my hair style hasn’t changed all that much, I don’t recognize myself. Gone are the beaming smiles, laugh crinkles around my eyes, and the mischievous smirks that told those who knew me I was about to do something goofy. In the rare few pictures that I allow myself to be in, my eyes look hollow, my jaw is always clenched, and, if I had to suffer through someone else in the picture touching me in anyway, my body is so stiff that it borders on being painful.
People used to say, “Are you okay?” and “You just haven’t been yourself lately.” I would just shrug and say that I was tired or stressed. After a while people stopped asking if I was okay. I lost friends. Some got annoyed at the new me and decided I wasn’t worth the effort. Others just got “busy”. But, truthfully, it didn’t matter to me. And, in a small way, it was a relief when I lost friends. Even though I was unsuccessful at it, pretending to be okay even though I wasn’t was so emotionally and physically exhausting. Besides, being alone felt safer. Not safe – just safer.
It’s hard thinking about the person I used to be. She was so full of life and energy. I truly believe she could have been and done anything she wanted. The me of today is so jealous of her. Maybe she was a little bit naïve when it came to the world, but she was so happy.
And so I struggle with coming to terms with the person that I’ve become. The fear, the shame, the anger, and the loss of hope. Sometimes it feels like I’ll never feel happiness again or feel “normal.” And that’s what I really want more than anything. I just want to feel normal. I just want to feel like the real me.