By Dave Taylor
“I miss that smile,” she said after I sent her an old picture of me.
That’s not what I was going for. I was trying to show my wife how much thicker I was back when I was still way sicker.
Then I said something about how my current smile makes me look like some kind of weirdo.
“No, it’s just not the same is all,” she said.
Hmm. Not the same isn’t good when what it was before was something she liked.
But I admit, it’s really not the same at all and I don’t know what to do about it.
The old me is missing.
Even my dad had noticed the change and he pointed it out a while back, saying something to the effect that I’m just not as present as I used to be.
Everything I do seems to be different. I even stand different, where it seems like my legs are slightly bent at the knees all the time.
One thing I’ve also noticed is what some people call a thousand yard stare.
I most definitely feel like I’ve been doing that for a while. It’s where I’m just staring out into the distance all the time and when I should be reacting to a joke or a story or a comment it’s like I have to retrieve myself from the distance to make an appearance in the present.
I don’t do it very well either and I feel like there are times when I should be reacting with a laugh and a look in the eyes of the other speaker and instead I’m staring into the gap just flatly smiling awkwardly.
The thing is I feel myself doing these things but I have no idea how to stop them or fix them.
I’ve even taken to practicing smiling in the mirror trying to find my natural smile again and I can’t bring it back. I can get a little closer but right there, looking at myself, I know I look different.
And I know I’m acting different.
My walk is different, the way I stand is different, the way I laugh is different, the way I smile is different, and the way I look is different.
But I don’t feel different, which doesn’t make sense. I feel like I’m the same, even though I can tell I’m different. It’s very frustrating.
What do I do? Live with it? Acknowledge it and hope that people are OK with it?
I’m not sure if this is the new me or if it’ll improve if my health improves, which might or might not ever happen.
For people who interact with me, please know that I’m not as bored as I look like I am; I’m not as indifferent. I really am interested in what you’re saying, but I’m having trouble showing it.
Be patient with me.