i remember the first time i looked in a mirror, i started sobbing, more than ever before, because i hated what i saw… my mom had made my hair differently and excitedly pushed me to the mirror to see. but whatever was staring back at me filled my heart with shock, disgust, and anger. i wanted to scream, but all that came out was tears. who was that? why did i look like that? was that really me? i didnt sound like myself, and now i didnt look like myself, at all. i didnt recognize myself, do you know how scary that is? i dont know what i expected to see. i was paralyzed from head to toe, so that included my facial muscles. so all my facial features lacked shape and definitiom. everything looked different. i was so tired of people telling me i looked pretty, because lets be honest- i looked paralyzed, not pretty. maybe i looked better than they expected, but i am scared to imagine what they expected.. my nurses would always come in my room and look at my pictures from my former life that were strewn around my room. \’she had to have been a model!\’ \’she must have won a beauty pageant or something!\’ they would say. they were huge compliments, but they werent for me… they were for her. the HAPPY, carefree girl in the pictures who now felt like a distant memory… another life. shes so different from what i looked like now. she has perfectly straightened, lovely hair; i had an unmanageable mess covering my head. she wears cute, stylish clothes; i had to wear gross tshirts and sweatpants i used to only wear to bed. she wears high heels; i wear sneakers, shes cheer captain and im on the bleachers (kidding!) but seriously, i never wore sneakers in public, well except the gym. she seemed so put together and classy while i felt like a mess and classless. i always had drool on my face and food on my clothes. and i always had to wear my horrid, THICK glasses that i had hated so much, i rarely wore them before. ew. i wanted so badly to be that girl in the pictures again. but i have realized, i will never be that girl again, no matter how much i improved or how normal my life becomes. she had this unwavering optimism in her smile, this pure naivete in her eyes, and this incredible innocence in her face. but my optimism had been ripped away, my naivete was no more, and my innocence had been forced out. i was forever changed, on the inside and out. im older and wiser because of this all, with a few grey hairs to show for it. i learned my lesson, i dont look in mirrors anymore. but if i catch a glimpse of my reflection, i have to do what i do 1000 times a day, everyday – i have to remind myself that under this useless body, beneath these limp, fragile limbs, beyond this weak, soft voice, it is me, maybe a less bright-eyed version, but it was still me.