You’re told to open your eyes.  In that moment, in the bright and sterile room of the examination room, you see yourself.  Someone who’s always been there, but hasn’t.  You’re not too sure if its okay to breathe, yet you take your first hasty breaths, and in the first time in years, you feel more than fine.  You are free.  Like every struggle you’ve gone though, every night you couldn’t coax yourself to sleep, every break you took at work panting in the back because it hurt to breath, no longer mattered.  It’s far from perfect, but it’s flat.  But after four years of pretending it was, four years of chest pains, uncomfortable hugs, dissociation, and so many failed relationships and meet up because you’re too ashamed and uncomfortable in your own skin, it’s perfect.

In this moment, you remember, a little over three years ago, you were curled up on an old beaten sofa, clutching a knife, praying for the day when it’ll get better.  Two years ago, when you accepted the fact that your father will never see you as a man, and you tried laughing it off, saying it didn’t matter to you knowing him calling you his son is the only thing you want.  And last year, when your life was hanging on a rope, because everything else seemed hopeless.  You remember how you told yourself to hang on.  To wait for things to get better. Back then, it seemed impossible for it to.  It felt like every step forward would send you falling so far back.  And yet, you still take a step forward, until the moment your feet catch something, and you’re no longer moving back. And even when you fell yourself falling, you stay strong, and keep moving forward. Despite everything, you keep on pushing.  You don’t know where you’re going exactly, but to you, it doesn’t matter.  Because you know when you reach there, you can look back and feel accomplished, knowing that the bottom is a long way from you, and there’’s no going back.

He tells you that it’s going to be hard still, that you’re always going to have scars, that your nipples will never look normal, or may even fall off. Yet you’re fully prepared for all of it.  And ready for anything ahead.  Because this is a a feeling you’ve never felt before and for the first time in your life, you walk with your back straight and shoulders high, and a smile that has never been seen on your face before.  You didn’t run a marathon, win a championship, or set a new world record, no, but this is a victory that will go down in the books.  This is the moment in which, even with the pain, you throw up your arms and yell, because you are a victor, and you’ve made it.  After over four years of not looking like who you wanted to see, you can.  And just like that, you know there’s way more to achieve.