Who Is This Stranger as Me?

“Mirrors have three purposes. To show you who you are.  To show you who you were.  And to show you who you want to be.” ~ Dan Pearce


I look at my hands and they move like mine.  I look at my feet and they walk like mine.  I look at my face in the mirror and I recognize the face as familiar.  I know those eyes, that nose, that smile.  I know the hair, the ears, the chin.  Those shoulders are mine, that neck is mine. The bosom, the belly, the thighs, the legs…you got it – all familiar and I know this is me.  However, inside I don’t know this person at all.  I have memories from childhood, education and the long term memories that represent who I used to know as me.  Yet I feel different.  I feel like a stranger in my body.

Challenges brought on by all the chronic pain from the orthopedic injuries.  Challenges brought on by all the endocrine changes in my body. Opportunities for the microscopic synapses in my brain that just function differently now to realign and heal.  Perhaps it is a combination of all these and other things yet to be discovered.

The new me detests sudden loud noises, bright lights for long periods of time and gets impatient quickly with certain situations.  The new me has incredibly less tolerance for seeming incompetence in various forms and has difficulty finding the words I can see in my head but do not seem to get out of my mouth the way I think them.  The new me says words that have nothing to do with what I am talking about at all.  The new me is surprising, still passionate, still emotional and adamant, and yet somewhat unpredictable. However, determined to find my place in this wonderful world.

Certain tastes that I used to enjoy now repel my tastebuds and some smells are repulsive.  Inside there is confusion, anger, fear and a roller coaster of emotions that I work hard to keep in check that never existed like this before the wreck.  The new me is not the multi-tasking “walking filing cabinet” my husband loved so much about me and was admittedly a great strength to our relationship.  The new me doesn’t fully remember a life without physical pain or this shroud of a headache that seems to loom on every escalated moment or emotion.

I look at my face and I see me – a stranger in my own body.  Someone familiar yet unknown to me. Someone with gaps in time, unanswered questions marks, unsolved mysteries that will just continue to exist without solid answers.  The desire to be who I once was is slowly fleeting and I sometimes forget her as I grieve the loss of that young woman and mother and develop and celebrate life and a flowering acceptance of my new normal, new interests, new desires, new goals.  Still a daughter, still a mother, still a wife – Just different.

I am learning to employ the stategies as second nature now, that I have learned and continue to learn to help myself cope with this new self. I often screw up and still forget things, get lost, forget details, appointments, and solve things a bit more slowly than I used to.  I endure pain at a new level I never thought possible.  I however, love life and value it greatly. I have learned how to advocate differently for myself on many aspects, specifically medically.

As I continue to heal, regenerate, move on and progress. Perhaps, eventually there will be no old me versus the new me…..there will simply be, as I look in the mirror – JUST ME!

~Caren Robinson 2015

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