I’m 42 years old. It’s not that I turned 42 today or anything, but on this Monday immediately following Daylight Savings Time adjustments, I am reminded that I am 42. There’s a certain comfort that I have in my own skin now. A certain understanding of my body that has been a gift with age. I know that while tropical weather makes for great vacations, it actually turns my hair into something that resembles 90’s Metal Band hair. I know that when I see a really cute pair of shoes pristinely displayed in a size 6, that I may in fact have to add the possibility that those very same shoes may resemble something Ronald McDonald wears when placed on my size 10 feet. I know that no matter how thin I get and how much I exercise that I will never be the kind of girl that sees daylight between her thighs. I know who I am, and generally I’m okay with that.
After decades of making peace with who I am and calling a truce with the body hate of my youth, I’ve found myself in a new reality. Just a few months ago, I had a hysterectomy. You can save your grieving of dreams of babies yet to come as I have all the children this mom could ever want, but I have in fact found myself mourning the loss of who I was. When I was 16 years old I was put on birth control pills. I’ll save you the graphic details of why, but know that it changed my life. It was like a miracle, and I was so greatful, I almost found myself rallying in the streets, holding a picket sign, advocating for additional rights for women. Over the last 25 years, I have either been pregnant or on some type of hormone replacement. I’m a living encyclopedia of options, side effects, cost and general non-edited commentary about each and every one. But after fighting the good fight for decades, finally maxing out the amount of hormone controlling therapy they could give me, and adding a lovely 40lbs to my body weight, I conceded and had surgery.
Today as I sit here, I know that I am finally free from uncontrollable and abrupt bleeding. Someday I may even feel confident enough to buy a pair of white pants, but probably not. While I’m in control of my body, I’m struggling to be in control of my emotions. After over 25 years of taking a variety of hormones, I am sitting here, hormone free and not knowing who I am. I cry at the drop of a hat. I get anxious when I’m unsure of what’s coming. I can sleep around the clock and still feel tired. I used to be the unshakable warrior woman, and today I feel raw, vulnerable and exposed.
I can’t help but wonder how many of us find ourselves in places where we never thought we would be feeling things we truly don’t know how to feel. There’s nothing unique about my situation, and certainly nothing that warrants a Go Fund Me page, but I do think about how sometimes life throws us a curve ball. Sometimes when we have ourselves and our lives all figured out and we are soaring along, changes can come and just sweep the rug out from underneath of us. Sometimes, we wake up and wonder “Who am I?”
While I’ve been surprised by both my emotions and new feelings, I know that God is not. God is not surprised by who I was and certainly not surprised by who I am. Because I belong to Him. He knows my every hurt, my every uncertainty, my every fear and each and every new feeling. While in some ways I feel like a different person, I know that in all the ways that matter, nothing has changed. I am a child of God.
As I continue to adjust and get used to the newness of my life, I believe that the old Michelle will be back soon enough. The warrior who knows nothing of the word “can’t” is sitting this season of life out, but she is in there. Today, the former me takes a break, and I rest in knowing that God is still working on me. Even in this season, He is there. And tomorrow, the Michelle of the past will be back with a newness and new understanding of who she actually is. No matter how it plays out, God’s got this.