When's The Reunion?

By Lucy Harbron - 18:30

“I feel like my connection to myself is deteriorating. My brain keeps trying to erase me.”

You can always trust a therapist to reflect back to you how sad what you just said is. Prodding me about the image I hold of myself in my head, I say nothing really. I’m a pair of legs on a bed watching a film, hands on a laptop, tangled hair that worries me when the hairbrush rips through it. I’m faceless to myself, and I mourn the loss like a friend that disappeared. Barely giving myself a glance all week and reproaching her when I do, I don’t think I’d stick around to be a friend either. 

I used to be able to draw myself by heart. In 2018 I’d trace the outlines of my hips with pride, dedicating time to obsessively commemorating myself with such a grasp on the physicality of me. I look at the lines now and they look like lies, with no evidence for the contrary I push them aside as false and fill the gap with nothing else. I’ve been wanting a new tattoo for ages but I can’t visualise myself long enough to try and imagine something new there, and now the photos of fresh ink three years ago mock me as a better, cooler me that got lost somewhere. I look back and wonder where my awareness went, thinking that’s a smaller thing to tackle than the confidence and intrigue that seems to have gone to. Pulling on black trousers and a black top, most days I think today is the dullest self I’ve ever been. A panic seizes up as if I’ve forgotten something and I realise it's me. 

A keep a little bit of it locked up in my phone. In a folder titled ‘burlesque’, 2019 me seems like a stranger. I remember the songs and the outfits, but the person that got up on stage is lost to me. Analysing the photos is a dissociative game of spot the difference that I’ve been trying to complete for a couple of weeks. Somedays she has my eyes and a faint tone of my hair; but the photos I remember loving feel alien to me now, capturing myself mostly in the ones I used to despise, caught in motions that haven’t changed and smiles I’ve never been able to train. I used to post them so proudly, not even caring about boundaries or backlash, I loved living on the line between sides of appropriateness. I remember that. I think. The feeling of toying with it, attaching the should-be-secretive to the social, melding mind and body, filling performances with film characters and plot and then taking my clothes off and not caring if no one realised the meaning in the first place. I knew the thought was there. I knew I was both things, I was all the things, I felt like everything. And I look at the photos now and wonder how I did it. 

I used to sing when I was a kid. Fighting solos in the school musicals I was never nervous. I’d strive for it, sure I was going to be famous. Praying to Hannah Montana like a god and telling everyone I’d be on the West End, my ambitions were so bold and I was so brave. 

8 feels lost in 24. What am I left with if I minus out my 21-year-old self? Suddenly so separate from her, I don’t know how to count her in. I couldn’t tell you what she was like or where the bravery came from or went, but if there are only 3 years or so in me now it’s not a lot to go on. When I say I feel like my brain is forgetting me, I feel like time takes some scissors and cuts off a year as they pass, and I don’t want to only be left with now. I want to hold it all, even if I never have the guts to be them again. 

Time has a way of making memories feel like lies, of making yourself feel like a liar. If I stepped out of myself like a stranger and informed me of my past, I’d shrug it off as false and go back to being what I am now as if I was never anything else. I am only what I currently am, in a body that is born and dies daily, what do I know? what can I learn? How do I love it? The days of celebrating it on a stage feel like fiction, like AI image creations found their way into my camera roll and burnt into hazy back corners of my brain like dreams that feel confusingly real when you wake up. Finding myself in a new place with new friends that never got to come along and clap to my song choice, no knowledge to feed facts back to me, I don’t think I ever moved all the past versions of myself down here. I wonder if anyone’s found them hanging about Manchester?

My sense of self swims around my brain like a fish tank, lasting four minutes and gone. Seeing life spans as cut and dry, I want to look at my past as reinvention rather than reincarnation. I want to reach into myself a pull out a little bit of 21 for a night, borrow some childhood bravery to announce something I’m proud of without an ounce of shyness. I want to sit my friends down and have them meet Sunday Girl the performer and not worry about how that changes or dulls Lucy now. I want to hold all my hands, finish spotting differences, look in the mirror more and see myself there. In what week of therapy do your long-lost selves reunite? I’ll post old pictures on my Instagram to coax them out and cross my fingers that it's soon. 

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