A few days ago, I was surprised.
I was shopping for clothes so I don't go back to school looking like a slob, a task which has become a bit of a burden since I gained around forty pounds last year because of the whole depression ordeal. I used to be a bit of a clothes horse; I loved new things, I loved pretty things, I loved dressing up, and I looked good in most of the styles because I was quite lithe. Now I've had to pack up my extensive collection because I can't even get those clothes up past my calves or over my head. Finding pieces to cover my body is a bit more of a chore now; it's gotten better as I've gotten more used to my new body, but it's still a bit sad to see pieces you love and realize they just wouldn't work on you any more. One particular problem area is dresses; I loved beautiful dresses before, but with my new thick-waisted, jolly tummy build, I don't seem to look good in any of them.
I gave up a while ago on find any that looked okay, but the other day, I saw a maxi dress hanging on the rack and something inside me said, "Hey...that just might work." When I tried it on, I kept looking in the mirror, turning this way and that, waiting for some imperfection to appear. I walked out into the long hall of the dressing room to use the three-way mega mirror because I was so flabbergasted. To my shock, it still seemed to look good, even in the Mirror of Doom. Not perfect, but pretty good. It wasn't the magazine-cover cute I had once known, but it didn't make me feel like an army tank/pregnant walrus like every other dress I had tried on in the past several months. So I bought it. I still feel a bit surprised when I look over and see a long piece of navy material draped over the back of my chair, which in a way reminds me of where I am in the greater scheme of my life: it's not perfect, but it's a whole lot better than it's been, and it's leaving me amazed and excited at the surprises that keep dropping in.
There are a lot of changes, new developments, and intimidating things coming up on my horizon: I'm starting school again tomorrow, which brings new professors, new classes, new challenges. I've gotten used to my new school, but I haven't taken a full courseload in over a year, so I'm a little nervous to see how I'll handle it, especially while juggling multiple work responsibilities and a grad school application too. And it's a little sad to think about how I'll miss many of the senior honors and privileges that I would have gotten to have at my old school, even if I love my new school a lot.
I'm going to be seeing a new counselor this Thursday and saying good-bye to my therapist of a year next week, which is a really sad and scary transition. This therapist saw me through one of the toughest transitions of my life and helped me process all of the grief and heartache of this past year. She was my safe haven when I had a lot of judgment and rejection weighing down on me. She helped restore my faith in therapy after two bad experiences with mental health care treatment providers and a long battle to find a treatment method that worked for me. A year doesn't seem like a long time, but I have changed and grown so much in that time, and she was a big part of that. It's hard to step into therapy with a new person who doesn't know you, your story, and your needs, especially when you still have memories of counselors who haven't respected any of those things and really hurt you as a result. It's hard when you don't know that person or whether you'll have a connection with them or what their style will be like. And it's difficult to say bye to someone who made an impact on you without knowing why they are leaving, where their going, if you'll get to talk to them again; not having the kind of closure that you would have liked or the chance to say all the things you wanted to.
I'm a different place, I'm a different person in many ways, I'm living a different life. I'm still trying to figure out how to live, how to be in relationships, how to make good choices, and I wish sometimes that there was a guide book. I'm still trying to figure out where I stand with God, where I stand with friends, what my opinions are on issues, what my priorities are in life, but I'm learning that there's a beauty in the journey, in the process. I get frustrated when I find myself upset about things that happened a year ago or feeling depressed the way I did six months ago; I should be more mature by now - I am a person in recovery, I have been to years of therapy, why can't I get it together? But healing takes time and lots of visits back to those old hurts, old haunts, old hates...and lots of visits to the random stranger with a Master's Degree in listening to people with screwed up lives.
With all the scary, new things though, I realize that there are so many exciting new things. I remember that less than a year ago, I thought my life was over. I thought there was no hope. I doubted I could ever feel better, ever recover, ever be happy. I doubted I could ever finish college. Now I am thriving, doing better than I have in a long, long time. There are still rough patches, but I think this could be a great year coming up.
Life is always surprising you, sometimes in bad ways, but sometimes in good ones. The joy is in the journey though, in seeing where life takes you and where you push yourself to go. I'm excited to see how I grow and where I end up in this coming year. And I'm even more thankful for this life that I am rebuilding because once everything I held dear with taken away from me.
I am not new, but I am different. I am becoming. I am not being born again; I am evolving, embracing who I am and who I have been and forming her into a better version of who I can be.