24 weeks (and a trip back to that place I came from)

I survived Christmas.

I worked Christmas Eve morning, left at 10 AM and caught the train up to that place I came from. I wasn’t alone, though. Courage (the stuffed lion my therapist gave me a couple of months back) came with me and was right by my side through the entire train ride. I didn’t care how weird it looked. I needed him.

Then I thought to myself, if I can handle this train ride, I can handle anything. So I went to my old neighborhood. Then I went to my old workplace. With Courage riding on my back and a hoodie hiding my face, I walked into the building unsure of who would be there. I went to the back where I could hide in safety. I felt a rush of emotions, both good and bad. I saw my old coworkers, my old friends. I realized how much I missed them.

So many people were excited to see me. They were shocked at how different I looked (my hair is now black and I’ve lost 60 some odd pounds over the last six months). Even more noticeable was my demeanor. I was happy. I wasn’t stressed. Everyone could see the difference. I was a different person now, not only in physicality but in emotion.

One of my coworkers commented how I didn’t lookvstressed at all, and that time away from the job must have been good for me. Before I could even answer, my friend (whom I’ve written about before, about her not fully understanding why I cut contact and left) said “it wasn’t the job that was doing it to her.” In that moment, I felt like maybe something had finally clicked with her. I think she was starting to understand. It took her seeing the changes in me in person for it to click.

I was treated like I had never left. They welcomed me and gave me food. They hugged me. Most importantly, they respected that I needed my mother not to know that I was there. I had people protecting me there regardless, but there was no need. I didn’t even have to see that woman’s face. Instead, I could enjoy the dozens of faces of people I hadn’t seen for half a year.

Christmas day was simple and relaxing. My friend and I cooked a nice dinner in our pajamas. We watched a marathon of Catfish on TV and took a lot of naps. It was enough just being together. Neither of us were alone. I went home later that night (as I had work early the following morning) feeling validated in my decisions – my decision to visit for Christmas, and my decision to move away. Even though I miss people up north, I’ve changed for the better since I’ve been here. I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this had I stayed. I wouldn’t be smiling. I wouldn’t be healing.

I’ve changed.

For the better.

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