Sometimes you grow in spite of yourself

Nov 14, 2010

So I took a hiatus after my breakup with Mike -- not just from here but from a lot of things.  I think I realized at some point that the break from him, while devastating and nearly as life altering as the rest of my transformation that (interestingly enough) all started right around Autumn of 2004, was also transformational.

I think I thought I was someone else inside and if I could just shed my shell and lose the gravity of my outside, I could be whoever was inside me being suppressed, who was obviously more worthy of love than I was.. cause it was a mistake, right?  The person I truly was didn't deserve happiness, she didn't deserve a good relationship, she didn't deserve to have her dreams come true, right?  Wasn't that true?  It must be or I wouldn't have imprisoned myself so resolutely.

So I embarked, wholeheartedly and optimistically, believing that this was my big chance -- and having Mike in my life made it possible for me to try on those new shoes at the same time.  So while I changed physically, I also changed emotionally; my personality changed; the woman I was changed -- all to conform to what I thought he wanted.  To conform to what I thought was the kind of woman worth loving.

So this other transformation commenced in May of 09 and I was broken down to a hollow shell; not knowing who I really was or how to stand in the big wide world without being who I thought I was supposed to be... that other woman I manufactured to fulfill a role I mistakenly thought I was destined for.  I stopped sleeping.  I stopped eating.  I dropped a whole bunch more weight (and secretly rejoiced but consciously realized the way it disappeared was unhealthy and unlikely to be sustained). I entered therapy. I took anti-depressants.  I lost my job of eight years.  When I looked in the mirror I looked gaunt and drawn and incredibly unwell.  Depression bubbled grotesquely to the surface and lingered like the smell of cat urine soaked into the carpet pad of a hoarder's apartment.

Eventually, I moved on and I tried again.  I tried to be that woman in another relationship and discovered, as that relationship crashed and burned that no matter how I tried to conform to this ideal I had in my head, I was. not. that. woman.  There was a tiny light in this tunnel, however.. and I'm still not sure the light was at the end of the tunnel or the beginning of it but there was a light and as small as it was, it seemed because of it, I could finally start to see what was around me.  It's kind of like the way, when you're sitting in a dark room and you can only see the outline of your hand when the light comes through the crack under the door, my eyes seemed to adjust and I could make out shapes of things.

What I started to "see" around me in this tunnel were pieces of myself and my history.  I started to get reacquainted with this cool girl who was at the core of the woman I was supposed to be.  Music I loved, hobbies I'd abandoned, friends I'd stopped talking to -- all these things I had turned out of my life in a vain attempt to be lovable in the eyes of men who weren't right for me and people who probably didn't deserve me were in the tunnel right alongside me.

Thankfully, that support system my surgeon and psychologist told me I needed to have in the very beginning seemed to reinvent itself through this whole journey.  The system in place at the beginning had crumbled but a new and wholly unexpected one had materialized in its place.  I'm a firm believer in accepting aid from wherever it's offered and so I was tremendously grateful as the vacancies created by people who'd departed were filled by people who had re-entered my life after many years and who probably belonged there all along.

Among those people who re-joined my "foundation" was a wise man who told me, "I know you forgot who you were but don't worry.  That person is still there, we've kept her safe for you when you were ready to rediscover her."  I began to write again -- the majority of that was a journal of chastising letters I wrote to myself for not seeing things and not listening to red flags that cropped up along the way.

Through all of that, people who loved me came closer and while they knew I was weak and collapsing, they never let my knees quite reach the ground.

I spent this past weekend with a man I've known since high school.  For the very first time in my life, I spent purposeful, meaningful time with a man for whom I definitely have feelings and who has shared his mutual affection for me, as me.  I resisted the urge to hide the things that, with other men in the past, I may have felt would be "deal-breakers."  I let him be attentive without being smothering.  I felt comfortable doing the same and never once felt anything manufactured or "expected."  In truth, every thing about this weekend was like opening a gift.  It was like standing in a stuffy, hot, dusty old house and feeling a great, cooling wind suddenly blast open all the doors and windows and clear out all the dust and mustiness.  I marvelled at how surprised I was to discover that, while I know we've made a choice to "see where this goes" after all this time apart, we both admitted this doesn't feel new.  In fact, it feels very much as if it's always been just exactly this way between us -- like putting on a pair of comfortable jeans that you've worn into the shape of your body. 

All of a sudden, here's this man in my life who behaves towards me in ways that both surprise and validate me and by doing so, he unknowingly reassures me that I am lovable.  Not just lovable but lovable as the woman I truly am -- and you know that woman.. we all have that woman.. this is the woman who makes mistakes with hair dye and doesn't always make great food decisions, she will wear pajamas all day on saturday if she can arrange it and she sometimes leaves dishes in the sink for longer than a day. 

What does all this have to do with my surgery?  Well, nothing... and everything.  I suppose it just illustrates the point that cutting your stomach doesn't cut the pain out of you.  It doesn't cut out the feelings of worthlessness or self-loathing and it SURELY doesn't heal the cuts to your soul that have been inflicted and re-injured year after year, bully after bully and insensitive stare after insensitive stare.  YOU are the only one who can fix those things inside you.  Don't pass up the opportunity to examine your inner self -- be honest with yourself, ask tough questions and ANSWER them truthfully.  You're the missing link in that chain.. not your doctor, not your vitamins, not your dog, not your kids, not your spouse, not your boss or your job; YOU.

I know I'm not "fixed."  Honestly.. I don't want to be "fixed" -- because to be "fixed" means one is latched down or glued or affixed somehow and I always want to be able to adjust as the winds blow me from place to place.  I want wings instead and I think maybe I've had them all along -- I just didn't know how to use them, or that I could.


About Me
Chicago, IL
Surgery Date
Sep 03, 2004
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