There’s been a continuous surge of change within me these past weeks, more so in the wake of filing my legal name change. In my moments of reflective self-awareness, I’ve been noticing how my relationship with myself has been reforming. There’s a marked difference in how I move through my days, free of internal conflict. A calm confidence within me that feels deeply rooted to a level I haven’t known, at least not for a very long time. And sense of wholeness that I’ve long desired but never felt regained nor earned. I finally feel like I’m at a place of well adjustment, the culmination of all these years in pursuit of some semblance of self-mastery.

I see that change reflected in my engagement with others, being once again sought out to be asked advice and perspective or simply give them someone to talk to.

Screen capture: Message from a friend requesting advice

I see it in my relationship with stress and anxiety, how they no longer loom over me completely and feel perfectly proportional & manageable. Even in the face of uncertainty and the pressing nature of present circumstances, there’s an unflappable self-assurance that surprises me.

Although it’s been years since I last had a relapse into those massive depression cycles I was once prone to, have gone through them so many times instilled a natural self-doubt about “progress”. In reviewing personal health data recently, it was interesting to realize that my weight history chart could be simply titled “mental health over time” and remain just as accurate. A representation of when I reach my optimal states, and when my unhelpful thinking cost me my focus and determination. With each rise and fall, I can quickly associate the different causes for them (and their resolutions) across the years, both in my mind and against my blog post archive. I’ve already gotten in front of and moved myself out of way for seemingly every reason possible to where it doesn’t feel possible to do anymore.

Weight graph 2010-2020

But most of all, I see it in my interactions with my past.

It’s been a my biggest source of distress. Having to cope not just with the traumatic events themselves during those formative years of my life, but also their aftermath: the shame of failing my younger self to come out better in spite of it all, the melancholy of times and people that cannot be returned to, and the inner conflict with the extensive dissociation I created in order to try and move past it. And though I’ve circled those outcomes plenty of times in my previous writings, off the top of my head I can only think of two posts in which I actually went into my past in detail. My history went from being something too painful to revisit in detail to something too meaningless to bother with.

Yet, lately, I’ve been going through the contents of the photo box I’ve had banished in the back of my closet for the last decade. In doing so, I haven’t felt the slightest tinge of any of the countless negative feelings that used to arise at the sight or mention of the people I’ve left behind. Nor do I feel that cold complete detachment I’ve wrestled with lately. Instead, I have remembrance and an appreciation to be able to recall what it was like to be those earlier versions of myself. Seeing these photos doesn’t just stir the memory captured in the picture, but also their various qualia, those indescribable qualities of what it was like for me to “be” me at that particular moment in time: the kinesthetic connectedness to my surroundings, the wonder in observing a world with limited pool of knowledge and experiences, the mental attitude and feelings of significance when waking up to a new day, and so on.

Being able to recall those memories without harm and with gratitude has given me ownership of them again, and by extension, ownership over myself. The ability to speak of and think about times past without negative effect or response, and the prideful acceptance of the road traveled.

Somewhere along the way in my psychosis, I externalized my pre-trauma child self from the rest of my self-perception. To go from the amount of confidence and self-esteem I naturally had and end up where I did was too hard to reconcile, so I unwillingly created this internal division, a separation between the me I used to like being so much and broken wreck that came after. That’s why I’ve never really spoken about those times in my life, and stopped revisiting the memories long ago. Though I’m very aware of the reality, the perception I’ve long had when thinking about my younger self is like that of a beloved nephew: a wonderful kid that exists outside of me and thus is clearly not me.

As I mentioned last update, this legal name change underway has largely been postponed because it became symbolically associated with becoming “worthy” of a new name. Though before I would have been hard-pressed to identify when that would be, in hindsight I can say I’ve always known it’d be when internally I felt capable of bridging that estranged part who I used to be with who I am now. Or rather, will be becoming.