No matter how hard I have tried to ignore her, she's always been there, lurking, waiting, a phantom of my past scratching away in the background, and I was desperately ashamed of her. I wanted her to disappear, to vanish into the digital ether, never to return and show me what I had done to myself.
I guess I just wasn't quite ready to look at that before picture and say 'I'm sorry' to myself for being that unhappy and for letting it all get so out of control. I'm not sure what I was running away from at the time, and at the time it must have been very painful and important. I suppose part of it was losing my Grandfather to leukaemia but this downward spiral had started way before Grampa became ill. No this started before then, but now, over six years since the before picture was taken I'm hard pressed to recall what was making me so miserable that I had pretty much given up on myself. The only good constant at the time was (and thankfully still is) my solid marriage to possibly then most understanding person I have ever met, my beloved hubby. Everything else, well it's a bit of a blur and all a bit hazy.
However, yesterday I sat with my finger hovering over the post button on Facebook with the comparison before and after picture, shaking at the prospect of allowing the social network world see how I used to be, who I used to be, the mess I used to be. And here I sat, scared of the judgements that would be dished out.
I should, and do know better. There never was any question of people being judgemental. In fact, quite the opposite. The comments I received were amazing and I am sincerely grateful to everyone who posted. As my American cousins would say, I was feeling the love. And then it struck me. I needed to say sorry to myself, for putting my 21-30 year old self through all that unhealthy behaviour. I know I've often talked about not listening to that voice when she rears her head but have I actually, properly said sorry to myself? Not until today, I hadn't and I meant it. I sat here, looking at the 30 year old me in that before picture, struggling to fit her hands in her jeans pocket and said how sorry I am that I screwed our 20s up. How sorry I am that I didn't look after us, and that we have come out the other side smiling, happier and far healthier. And Pandora and I have had a good sob. Yes she will have her moments when she creeps up with her self doubt and snide remarks at how rough I might look after a gig night, but she's/we/I am only human.
So here it is, the before and after picture. The before on the left taken in Boscastle in April 2006, and the after (although I still have another stone I want shot of) picture taken in June 2012. There is still work to be done, inside as well as out, but everything is on the upward spiral, and life is good.