i truly debated titling this ‘metamorphosis’ at the risk of it sounding too cliche. and i hate cliches. it’s not a word you hear often outside of biology class. or is it sixth grade science? should probably know the answer to that so i am definitely adding that to my ‘to google’ list. metamorphosis is also definitely one of the best hilary duff albums out there. just saying. shout out to anyone who thrived in the early two thousands. okay, i am a bit off track. back to my point. i spent ninety minutes in a telehealth therapy session last wednesday. as y’all already know, i have been seeing a trauma therapist for about six months now. trying to navigate the extreme stress and anxiety that has traumatized my central nervous system over the past year. and i cried through the majority of the session because i finally broke down and came to the realization that i am one hundred percent lost. not like ‘get a map’ lost but more like ‘self identity’ lost. and i know i know, we’ve talked about this dozens of times before but it’s weighing heavy. because the truth is, i have been searching for who i am for quite some time. not just in this unprecedented time right now. but for several years now, i have been searching for parts of me. and in all honesty, i think it’s because i have been through a lot. and with each experience, different parts of me have been shed and sloughed off. some parts of me have been buried beneath the rubble of past friendships or bad moments. and when i walked into the year of twenty twenty, i was still searching. and truthfully, self discovery and soul searching is exhausting. i mean, it’s not as exhausting as fighting a globally impactful infectious disease or fighting stage two cancer but it has its moments. but nonetheless, it’s hard. probably because i have been actively searching for my roots and my purpose and my identity since twenty eighteen. i remember ringing in the new year in twenty eighteen feeing a lot like this. confident in my career but struggling in just about every other area. at that time, we were going into the second week of a government shutdown. one that would last for seven more weeks and bring an immense amount of stress into my life. and maybe that’s the common denominator. that my high stress level moments are when i begin to question everything. or perhaps it’s because everything that we as a society associate with identity is currently missing. like my hair. and my career. and everything feels out of reach. maybe it’s because my friends are far away and my life feels like it’s been tipped upside down. that i wake up in cold sweats in the middle of the night because my nightmares are too real and too vivid. feeling lost often pushes me to get found really quickly. but it’s not that simple. because the search. that’s what i am always doing. searching for what’s next. searching for who i am. but honestly, the right answers are right here. kind of have been all along. just have to look at what already is. because at the guts of it all- i have shed the people that needed to go. and the parts of myself that have been stripped, will come back even stronger. bad things happen to good people and there isn’t much that i can do with all that has happened to me. it’s changed me and probably hardened me a little more than i would like to accept or admit. but i think that’s part of the shift. that i have to go through this to get to the next part. and so today, in therapy, we started a new process called brainspotting. it’s a technique that’s used when your brain is having a hard time leaving a trauma cycle. for me, in this moment, my brain is convinced that danger lurks at every single corner. because for the last year of my life, there has been ugliness at every turn. i didn’t have a chance to breathe between new trauma experiences. and today, we started to unpack the trauma. because it’s layered. stacked deep inside me. but one of the biggest things that came from this trauma cycle breaking was self identity. that my connection to myself has become incredibly lost. because i have been shedding layers upon layers of myself as i have battled and waged wars over the last few months. and through the scars from blown veins while fighting to stay alive last march to the loss of my hair this past september and the upcoming surgical removing of my breasts and the pain and memories and trauma that still lives. i have become someone else. because cancer marks you. from the very beginning. it’s a moment in time that will always exist. the shift from one identity to another. we are marked. we are members of a club that no one wants to belong. it’s life changing, even after the chemo treatments. forced to surrender ourselves to a disease and watch as we leave our own bodies. it’s an experience i will never be able to share in full.
but over the last few weeks, i have been way too hard on myself. trying to figure out how to be perfect in this rebirth. to be skinnier and prettier and better. and here i am. days away from another big battle. awaiting more news about my health. preparing for war yet again. and i find myself struggling to look at myself in the mirror and shielding my body from my eyes. because i don’t recognize her. the girl in the mirror. the one who has lost so much. the one who has felt like everything has been surrendered in the name of cancer. but the truth is- i have been here all along. i have made it to this exact moment. and i have been questioning my worth and questioning who i am. and being downright terrible to the versions of myself that have made it to this exact place. and that’s okay. because this has been my metamorphosis. the identity that i am so desperately seeking- it has been inside of me this whole time. i am exactly who i needed to be this whole time. nothing is missing; i am already whole. i have always had the courage and the resilience and the fight inside me. and these battles; they broke me and shaved me down to the barest. but from it, came wings. but from it, came a true metamorphosis. from it, a transformation. from it, a rebirth. i have spent too much time looking for something that already existed; looking for something that was already whole. looking for something that was already exactly what it needed to be. i am exactly what i need to be in this place and in this moment. these experiences have marked me; have changed me. and that’s exactly what was supposed to happen. not in an ‘everything happens for a reason’ kinda way because y’all know that’s a load of bull. but everything i have survived and all the trauma that still lays before me. it’s here because i have fought and battled and won. and even when i was tired and broken and miserable- i pressed on. and it’s now mine to own and mine to share and through it, i evolved.
we are exactly who we are supposed to be. maybe not for everyone else. but we are exactly who we are supposed to be. for ourselves. we are exactly who we need to be. maybe not for everyone else; but for ourselves. and even though i am not connecting to the person who came out on the other side of a bad year- i know that deep inside, it’s the same girl. the one who fought hard. the one who was so brave fighting an infectious disease alone. the one who didn’t shed a tear the day she was diagnosed with cancer. the one who was knocked down harder each time chemotherapy was delivered and she got back up each time. the girl who has been through hell and still manages to put her feet on the floor each day and rise. she’s still here and she was always enough. she is enough. and she is exactly who i am meant to be.