People like to throw that phrase around when they realize you’ve changed after some type of trauma or loss.
There’s a part of you, or a version of you, that disappears – dies – after a traumatic experience.
When they say the miss the old you, your heart aches a little, because you miss her, too.
They miss the old you. They were hoping – praying – the old you would come back once you got better. That’s what you were expecting. Like when you fight off a flu and you bounce back to your old self. The easy going you. The fun you. The light and bright you. But that’s not the case. Cancer’s not the same as the flu, at least not in the 21st century.
Cancer left you with dark humour, the kind your family doesn’t want to laugh at. It left you with grief no one really knows what to do with because you’re still alive. It left you with the urge to have difficult conversations that make many people uncomfortable.
They don’t understand that old you is gone now. She died when the cancer showed itself, and you buried her with the disease. The diagnosis caused your distrust in your own body. They don’t understand that old you is gone now. She died with the cancer. When you lost your trust in your body, you lost yourself too. The treatment altered more than your appearance. The experience transformed your vision and your attitude. It took you a while to realize all these about you, and you know that others aren’t perceptive to these permanent changes.
What they also overlook is that the new you isn’t so bad. Perhaps you cry a little more, since you’ve allowed yourself to feel the negative emotions instead of ignoring them. Maybe you’re more cynical or angrier at the world, because you realized how fleeting some moments are, how we don’t value the more important things as we should, or how we don’t prioritize the real things until it’s too late.
It’s okay to miss the old you. But don’t expect her to come back. She’s gone, and you need to let her go. Instead, be patient with yourself as you’re getting to know the new you. She comes with a cloud over her head, but she also has a greater appreciation for all that life has to offer, light or dark.