A pair of hands looks at polaroid wedding photos developing.

Seeing My Myself Again

While both my eyelids have lowered on their own after the long journey I have been on with thyroid eye disease (TED), the habit of looking at my eyes first in pictures remains. Every time I look at a photo of myself, the first thing I do is look at my eyes. I do not know how to break it. Maybe it will fade over time like the rest of the habits and rituals I made because of TED. I hope it will.

Wedding photos: Seeing myself again after my journey with thyroid eye disease

When I saw the photos from my sister’s wedding for the first time, I was struck by how normal my eyes looked. I was also amazed by how much I was not focused on my eyes for a second or two which then made me look at my eyes more. There I was, who I had always been, but somehow lost years ago when my appearance changed because my eyes changed.

It is a weird feeling. I was used to not seeing myself for so long in photos, in mirrors, to seeing myself and being taken aback by being able to see myself. I found myself again in a way I was not anticipating.

After I saw the photos, I reached out to my mom to tell her how I was feeling. When I mentioned my eyes, she interrupted what I was saying, shook her head, and asked me, “Why can’t you notice how happy you are and forget about your eyes?”

I tried to explain to her how my eyes were the only thing I would see in photos for years and how big it is that I was not focused on my eyes as much now. How it is a good thing I was not focused on my eyes now. She kind of got what I was saying, I think, but disregarded it anyway.

I understand her annoyance. She wanted me to focus on the moment we were having and how my sister had just gotten married. Not how my eyes were no longer a hindrance to how I viewed myself. This day was not about me. It was about love, two people finding each other and deciding to spend their lives together.

Wisdom in hindsight

Thinking back on my reaction now, a few weeks later, I can see how my perspective on all of this has shifted. When I was in deep with my TED, I felt as though my eyes changing was so monumental. And it was. I am not trying to invalidate my feelings from a few years ago when my eyelids are so far back that light hurt my eyes every time I went somewhere I was not familiar with.

However, being on the other side of this journey for the most part, and being able to see my eyes in a way I had not in a long time, it has changed how I view myself then.

I want to tell myself from a few years ago who was dealing with TED that I will see myself in photos again. I will be okay with a lot of time and patience.

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