You know how people create posts with the hashtag #transformationtuesday? When I come across them I always cease scrolling for a moment and examine the differences between the adjacent photos. Do you ever look at the first and wonder ‘what were they like back then when this photo was taken?’ I mean, it’s obvious they look older now, but how have they really changed? What profound changes caused these two photos to be cast into two different eras of the same life? Those questions enter my mind when I think about who I was during my last relationship versus who I am now. That sounds like such a trivial thought, but it baffles me in the ways that life has forced me to change. If I created a post for #transformationtuesday it would consist of a 16-year-old girl and a 22-year-old woman. These photos would appear to display the same person, but in reality I’d consider them to be nothing more than two total strangers.
I look back and remember a bubbly, innocent girl who was enjoying her time in high school. She had great friends, a love of theatre and a crush on this boy in her church choir. She had this ability to reach out and connect with people. Her outgoing personality allowed her to be fearless when it came to making new friends. He wasn’t like her. He was a shy musician who withdrew himself from others, but this was why she was drawn to him. She saw something that no one else did, and throughout their time together she helped him recognize his potential. He grew because of her influence, and eventually his confidence increased. She should have seen the warning signs, but being in love for the first time creates a massive blind spot. He craved all of her attention and love, which left none for the remainder of the people in her life. After a time she’d become unrecognizable to her friends and family. She had transformed from this open girl into this manipulated robot. He’d stolen her away from those she cared about, because he’d made her the center of his universe and expected the same in return. After she ended the toxic bond, she didn’t even remember how to revert back to who she was before. Being a self-regulating person had become a foreign language, something that would take time to relearn.
Most people wouldn’t know any of that if they looked at the first photo, all they would see is a smiling girl and not all the confusion and loss hidden beneath. It did take a lot longer than I expected to relearn how to be the life-loving, approachable girl I was before. But I’ve always believed that time is the magical factor that can heal any wound and right any wrong. For it was time that allowed me to reconcile the wrongs that were done and reverse the damage targeted at my personality. I look at where I am now, what I’m doing and my relationships and I see her – the girl I was. She’s returned into my life like a bright, bouncing bundle of joy. I’ve been able to recapture my ability to connect with and make people feel special. I’ve relearned how to love myself and provide that same love and attention to those around me. No longer am I the girl who is restricted from living her life to the fullest. I would hope that when people look at the recent picture they would see a young woman who is confident, capable and ready to take on the world.