I can be vague here as is my norm. Or I can just be honest. Tell you that seeing those albums was painful. Although I laughed and fake-gagged at the time. I can say that I am over it. It's all the past and doesn't affect me. But that is not the truth. I did flip through those pictures. Glanced at the scrapbooks containing hundreds of letter. Handwritten love letters. Flashing back to another time. A time that was less complicated.
I saw myself. What outsiders saw. Religious. Observant. Following the rules. Whatever you want to call it. I was playing the part. Living the lifestyle.
I know now that it was all a facade. Waiting to crash at my feet. Living in a fantasy land. Surrounded by infatuation. Desire for a future. No understanding of the present. Of the facts in front me. Avoiding reality. All to live in delusion. A dream of what I wanted and not what was.
I gave up myself. I lost who I was. And I did it willingly. I followed a path that I didn't want. To fit in. To please everyone else. But I was not happy. I was controlled. Miserable. I was uncomfortable in my own skin. I wasn't authentic.
And that's not who I am. Who I ever wanted to be. All I ever wanted to be. Unique. To be authentic. What you see is what you get. Not two-faced at all. Honest to a fault.
And now, although a lot has changed. It is not a bad thing. Looking at my face in those pictures, I see a lonely and sad girl. Standing at a distance from those around her.
Today I am grateful. I feel lucky that I have myself back. That I am living my life. As I want to live it. And I won't take that freedom for granted. And I won't lie and say that it isn't hard. Doesn't get painful. The loneliness is definitely there under the surface. But I no longer feel hopeless. Because my happiness and my life do not depend on you or anyone else. It's internal. My choice. My goals. My life.