When I lived in Montreal I had a roomate named Rachel who very quickly became like a sister to me. We lived together for five years, and by the end we were able to complete each others sentences and know what each other were thinking.
Rachel used to always poke fun of me because I would do double takes in the mirror as if I didnt recognize my own reflection. She used to get such a kick out of this -and shamelessly ridicule me in the process.
I think there were a few valid reasons for my state of confusion. When I came home after Thanksgiving break freshman year I decided to dye my hair pink and piss my off my parents. This was my form of rebellion-a pathetic attempt in retrospect. I still am unsure of what I was responding to or rebelling from. Regardless, my rebellion continued. A few months later I proceeded to dye it blue, cut it all off, and then eventually rock out a black and white look look which resembled a skunk. I am not sure what I was searching for- but I can tell you I was digging real deep. In my 3rd and 4th years at Uni, I calmed down, and slowly eased back into being a brunette.
Aside from my ever-changing hairstyles, I also put on weight. Instead of owning the fact that my shape was changing, I fell into denial. I somehow was able to justify in my head that because Canadian sizing was different, I hadn't really put that much on, if any at all. I realize now I was only fooling myself. In my defense I was 18, legally allowed to drink, and the -30 temperatures were not exactly conducive to hitting the gym. I recognize those are excuses, and when it comes down to it - I wasnt taking care of myself the way I should have been, and my reflection in the mirror expressed that.
In the past 3 months I have lost 20 pounds. I am not sure whether or not to blame Cancer or stress, but lets be honest they are both one in the same. Unfortunately unexpected weightloss is one of the many symptoms of Lymphoma. I initially thought the weight was coming off because I had spent a few months regularly working out 4-5 days a week, eating healthy, and living well. There was a new love in my life, and staying healthy was priority for both of us. Marc and I became gym buddies, and we learned to pushed each other physically. People started to make comments about my weight loss and I initially took it as a compliment. I was working hard,and my body was showing results.
While there is no doubt my healthy lifestyle affected to my changing shape, Cancer is what caused me to lose weight as rapidly as I did.
The change in my appearance now, has me again doing double takes. I dont recognize this body anymore, and I dont know the person staring back at me. Don't get me wrong- I am not emaciated, but I just look like a smaller version of my former self.
Tomorrow I am harvesting my eggs and my belly is large and in charge! After 15 days of taking hormones and giving myself 4 shots a day, I actually resemble someone who is 3-4 months pregnant! It feels so strange to look pregnant, but to appear thinner than I am used to.
I so badly want to look in the mirror and see who I used to be.
While my attempts may be desperate, and perhaps futile, every morning and every evening I stare back in the mirror, hard, hoping to see a flicker of my former self.
I am mourning my former self and the reality I abruptly left behind. I am trying to embrace this new normal, but it isn't easy. I think about my life before Cancer and with Cancer, hoping (and also knowing) there will be a life after Cancer. At the moment I feel like I am in between two lives, two realities, and two ways of being. I am looking forward to the day when I can settle in to this new reality and start really owning it.
I realize in the next few months, my double takes may become triple takes and I will continue to be puzzled by the person staring back at me. I just hope I will learn to start recognizing her and accepting her sooner than later.