I sometimes look and don’t recognize her.
She is not who she once was, the woman in this picture. Not even close.
There are lines where there used to be none. I know so intimately the long war she went through that carved them—forevermore a reminder of the battles hard-fought. Forevermore a reminder of how she survived.
There is bright red lip stain outlining a set of lips that were once too self-conscious to be seen with that much color. It was too much. Now? Bring on the brightest of red. Even better, pair the red lips with all the dresses I love. Dresses that were once avoided because my 5-foot frame did not produce the world’s version of a beautiful set of legs.
But, these legs I was once so ashamed of have carried me.
They have put one foot in front of the other when I didn’t think they could so much as stand. They have not failed me but instead kept walking, walking toward freedom. And goodness, how they love a good dress.
There is a heart hidden beneath the black dress that is scarred but more tender because of the scars. This heart, it is walled off mostly, but when able to be opened, it is opened fully. Without abandon. It is a precious thing, this heart unseen in this woman I never expected to meet. But one I am so glad I did even if the road to finding her nearly killed me.
The woman I once knew didn’t know what she was worth.
She didn’t know how big of a gift love was. She didn’t know that real strength had to almost kill you in order to be unearthed. She didn’t truly know what mattered or what she was capable of.
Now I look at her, and this sometimes barely recognizable woman makes me proud. She is still growing and learning and failing, God knows she is failing.
But I know what she went through to no longer care about the red lips and the dress.
I know what she has been through that allowed her to find the heart that will stand on and fight for the precious gift of love because she knows all too well the abuse that is anything but.
I know what gave her these lines, and I know how she overcame it.
I know that the woman in this picture is more capable than she knows, and I am so glad I met her.