Thought Catalog

Who You Used To Be

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Once, you were a newborn: the swell and fall of your chest dictating the quality of someone else’s life, your tiny new fingers turning everything they touched to gold. You needed help doing just about everything, drinking and burping and sleeping, that’s who you used to be. Once, all you had to do to make someone’s day was open your eyes.

Memorizing the lyrics to a song used to be an accomplishment, just like writing your name without inversing any of the letters. Tying a shoe. Walking three steps. Reciting the alphabet. You used to be someone whose every action was worthy of photographic documentation, whose shoes were worthy of being bronzed and displayed on a mantle in a home like a Master’s degree, like a wedding portrait.

You used to believe. You believed in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, both of whom would slip into your home in the middle of the night and leave behind gifts you now know you didn’t deserve. You used to believe in god, or something, someone you’d talk to and beg for things like toys or for your parents to stay together, you used to beg for forgiveness. You used to believe in all of those things; you used to believe in love.

Who you used to be is someone who was fascinated by and terrified of animals, someone who has broken the tail off of a lizard, someone who recoiled their hand from an angry dog’s mouth, someone who marveled at the pastel intestines of a frog. You were someone who played too hard, who touched without consideration for other living things, someone who could get away with that. You used to sit on animals, hug them, hit them when they scratched you; you used to think they were the only ones who understood you.

Who you were was someone who asked questions, who wanted to know the science behind rainbows and why your eyes are brown instead of blue. You used to ask are we there yet and then shift your focus to the mechanics of the car transporting you, how the wheels turned and why the windows fogged, how it could take you from one place to another. Who you were was someone who questioned the way things work.

You used to lie, you used to lie about stealing five dollars from your mother’s purse and about the really Important and Meaningful family heirloom you broke, you used to lie about homework and grades and it was always someone else’s fault. You used to lie when you got hurt doing something you weren’t supposed to be doing and you lied about hitting your little sister, about taking a bath, about finishing dinner or your summer reading.

But never once did you lie about how you felt. You just didn’t know how. You didn’t know how to look someone in the eye and say I Don’t Love You even though you did, you didn’t know how to mask grief or shock or fear. You used to get red in the face with anger and you used to ugly cry for an audience, you used to laugh uncontrollably and you used to throw your arms around someone’s neck and never once feel like apologizing for it and of all the things that used to be, this is what you miss most. TC mark

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    • Shelby

      Wow. this is great! 

    • Andres Ordorica


    • van

      excellent twist of a conclusion; though it was a little too short for my liking. but i appreciated the rich, honest voice behind this creation. 

    • kay d

      thanks.  thank you.

    • Rebecca

      That last paragraph…whoa

    • Brandon Buchanan

      I love you.

    • Toni

      This was brilliant. Thank you for this.

    • Sophia

      I think I still have that naïvety, and it scares me that so many people lose it. I don’t want to lose it.

    • Anonymous


    • Anonymous

      hmm, i never believed in santa claus or the tooth fairy, i was born in an african country where fairytales are always just fairytales. but even growing up there i miss the simplicity of that age, i was totally unaware of the way the world viewed us or how society worked. i guess ignorance is bliss

    • Juliakgoolia

      This is beautiful!

    • Jake

      made me fucking cry. tell me more about who i used to be

    • meowcat

      Yes. This. All of this.

    • beatrice

      Well Done, should have been longer though. What really hit home for me was that I was taught, and I was scolded for not lying about my feelings. For showing that defiant anguished face that was flushed with anger. Apparently, showing my feelings meant that I didn’t have manners and of course, no child shouldn’t have manners. 

    • Thestatethatimin

      This is beautiful.

    • guest

      God Damnit I love you. I don’t have internet on my phone bc I can’t afford it, but I always borrow my co-worker’s fancy iphone & run to the bathroom to read your writing. Everday she thinks I’m checking my not so important email. Your words & thoughts always flow together in harmony. I will think about this piece for the rest of the day.

      • laura jayne martin


        • AMY

          Make sure you delete the history!

    • Michael Koh

      goddamn this is sweet

    • Aechols

      That was beautiful.

    • Enah Cruz

      Everything I used to be. I fucking love you Steph G.

    • Vianca Pandit

      Currently reading everything you’ve ever written. You’re pretty amazing, you know that?

    • Elaine


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