I’m Not Who You Think I Am

By Shannon Lelievre

What do you see when you look at me? What kind of person do you think I am? 

I am always surprised when I hear someone say that I look like I have it all together or that I come across as being a woman who’s got it all figured out. When they find out I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression my whole life, they’re shocked because I don’t seem like someone who takes medication on a daily basis.

I’m not who you think I am. I’m not a girly-girl but I’m not a tomboy either. I’m not into getting my nails done and I don’t wear lash extensions. I do get my hair highlighted regularly though and I’m embarrassed if I’m seen in the wild without eyeliner on. I’d rather wear sneakers than heels and I enjoy beer more than wine. 

I’m not who you think I am. I recently scored a 94% on an exam and was annoyed that I missed the 6%. I had a freak accident where I blacked out on a run and was so embarrassed about cracking my head on the pavement that I apologized to the Good Samaritan who stopped to help me for scaring her. 

I am not who you think I am. I get scared that I attract people who hurt me because I was sexually assaulted at a friends’ house. I worry that there’s something broken in me that makes me unlovable because my marriage taught me so. I don’t know how to behave in a healthy relationship because I don’t think I’ve ever been in one.

Do I wear my trauma on my face? When you look at me do you see a woman who lost a pregnancy to miscarriage? Do you see a mother who feels guilty for forgetting things because of a head injury? Do you see a daughter who feels like she’s disappointing her family when depression creeps in again? Because that’s all I see when I look in the mirror. There are days when I can’t even bear to see my own reflection because it screams back at me with a voice so loud I’m amazed you can’t hear it from where you are. 

I see the girl who was called ugly and barked at by boys in high school. I see the girl who settled for a man who didn’t deserve me because I was about to turn 30 and felt the need to be married. I see the woman whose baby didn’t have a heartbeat. The woman who needed to seek therapy every couple of years. The woman who froze during a rape instead of fighting back. I see a woman who found herself pretending to be ok when I was most definitely not ok. 

I am not who I think I am. I’m making progress in therapy and I’m grateful for the support of a good friend who sees the real me and not the lie of my reflection. I’m forcing myself to look in the mirror and see the woman who knew it was time to process the shit of her past and doesn’t shy away from how difficult that is. I’m searching for the woman who did the best she could to cope with loss and grief and abuse and pain while taking care of her family. I’m starting to see the woman who demonstrates what it is to have a warrior spirit and never give up. I am starting to see the woman who deserves the love she gives to others. I am learning that I am not who I thought I was.