The Before and After You

"Grief does not change you. It reveals you." -John Green

I've been spending a lot of time with these words from John Green. My first thought when I read them - John. Seriously? You must be on drugs.

Of course my grief has changed me! It has changed me so much I am currently in a total identity crisis. I see two versions of myself. The me BEFORE my loss and the me AFTER my loss.

When I think about the before version I remember a woman that was fun, silly and easy going. A woman that was up for anything. A woman that laughed without heaviness in her heart and had a smile that could light up a room. The woman who was blissfully ignorant to a world of so much pain.

When I think about the after version I see a woman that carries broken pieces everywhere she goes. I see a woman that has lost the sparkle in her eyes and where dark circles permanently reside instead. I see a woman that may laugh but is always weighted to the ground.

To sum it up the before version of me was great, the after version of me sucks. It is just that simple right? Well, maybe not. This quote keeps crawling back into my mind. The more I think about John's words the less I am starting to question his possible drug addiction. Could this guy actually be on to something that I have missed?

It is so easy to remember only the good, to paint a perfect picture of our past selves. But if I'm going to be real, that woman had some serious characteristic flaws too. She was selfish with her time and she lacked empathy in too many situations. She was high strung and had her fair share of self entitled moments. She saw the world and took it at face value more times than not. She lacked compassion for those she did not understand. She invested far too much time on things that were unimportant. She was afraid to do things for fear of failure. There was a lot of room for some serious self improvements. She was by no means perfect.

If I allow myself to take a closer look, past the pain, at the after loss version of this woman I can see more than her brokenness. I see a woman who loves deeper than she ever has before. I see a woman who reaches out when she feels someone is in need of help. I see a woman that understands the little moments in life are the most important ones. I see a woman who no longer takes any kind of relationship for granted. I see a woman who is brave and will wear her heart on her sleeve. I see a woman who leans into God every second of every day.

Could grief actually be revealing my true self to me instead of changing me? Is it making me the version of myself I was put on this earth to be?

Learning to live again means letting this reveal happen with arms wide open. I am making the decision to give this new girl a chance. I am going to be gentle with her as we get to know one another. I accept that the road we will travel together will be long and not always easy.

But mark my words, we are going to find our sparkle.