Earlier this week on my birthday, my driver's license expired. A few weeks ago I sent off the papers to renew it by mail and the new one arrived today. I have to say that there was something funny about seeing that same old picture of my 24-year-old self. What's funnier is that now I can pass it off as "me" until 2015! (Thank you, Texas, for not requiring a person's weight to be printed on their driver's license! I would have really hated to lie about it.)
It got me to thinking about the old me - the Stacey of that photo. It was taken the year we moved to Texas, 2001. I was 24 years old, 8 years younger than I am now. I had absolutely no gray hair and I have no recollection of mentally reminding myself not to make a double chin for the camera. I recognize the nervous look on my face that says, "I can't believe I'm making this official. I'm now a Texan and I'm going to have to learn to drive here." Besides that look, I see a happy girl who looks too young to have been married for 3 years already. I see the innocent, relatively carefree, optimistic young lady I used to be.
Sometimes I wonder if that girl is still around. If you read this blog with any regularity, you know what happened next. We decided to try to have a baby. Well, we didn't even really decide to TRY. We just decided to have a baby! Simple, right? The next 8 years that followed were the hardest of my life so far, and I know that those years have changed me as a person. Sometimes when I look at pictures of myself today, I don't see any of that old sparkle in my eyes anymore. I don't mean that I'm never happy or that I have no joy at all. I mean that I can see a woman who has known pain, grief, and disappointment. Sometimes when I'm with a friend who really knows me well, I think they might notice that too even though I feel like I'm hiding it well. And sometimes when I'm with a friend who didn't know me before infertility and recurrent miscarriage entered my life, I wonder if they really know me at all. I never used to break down and cry in the middle of a conversation. I loved going to parties and showers and all kinds of get-togethers. I wasn't afraid of any question that might be asked of me or any comment that might be made, and I very rarely left feeling hurt, sad, angry, or completely isolated from the crowd.
Now, that old optimist in me wants to tell you some good things about this new Stacey. Although I've struggled with it in the in-between times, my faith is stronger now. I had faith back then, but it was largely untested. I'd always been grateful for God's hand in my life during a childhood that wasn't easy. I trusted Him, but now I can see how easy it was to trust once I'd reached my early twenties. I was on the other side of that adversity! I'm still in the middle of this one and I'm learning more and more every day what it's like to trust Him when it's hard. I don't succeed at that every day but I think I'm getting better at it.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm still getting to know the new me. I hate the circumstances right now but I'm interested in what kind of person might emerge on the other side of this. That 24-year-old on my driver's license is still part of who I am even though now she's a little rough around the edges.