So, last night I started laughing as I was getting ready for bed. Not because of how horrible I looked with my hair plastered down on my head and no make-up on my face, but because of what I was putting myself through. And I do this every night.
I counted how many anti-aging products I have in my bathroom cabinet, and it’s 16. Sixteen! I literally have creams, lotions, oils, serums, and ‘cold plasma’ goop (which I really don’t want to know what it’s ingredients are) that I spread over my skin in hopes they will actually do what I am told they will by such enticing ads. Sometimes, I feel like a mad (well…yeah…I’m bipolar after all) scientist with my pots, bottles, and jars, mixing my concoctions and rubbing them on different parts of my face.
I have eye goop that I spread around my…you guessed it…eyes in hopes they will look 30 instead of 53 (I still look 53 after all of the smears). I have cream for around my mouth to make any small wrinkles “disappear’ while making sure my lips look pouty and moisturized. I have oils, (that I mix myself in little bottles and smell so good but are hell on my pillowcases) for my cheeks since they’re so dry, as well as overall lotions I plaster on top of all this mess. The layers on my face could be studied like geologists study rocks…just start digging and you’ll eventually be able to uncover my actual birthdate.
Then, there’s my bod. I have…wait for it…6 lotions and creams for it, plus ‘butter’ that makes me feel like a greasy french fry. I actually tried to make my own body butter this winter. It was a disaster. I cooked the ingredients in my favorite sauce pan, and it was hellish trying to get the greasy concoction completely washed out. I, of course, did it wrong (big surprise there), so the butter was grainy. I spread it on my arms and legs anyway and it was a sandy, smelly mess with the goop dripping off in globs, since the minute it was on my warm bod, it became liquified again. When I walked out in my shorts and tee, my son looked at me, turned around, and left. He was practicing what I always taught him: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
After all of this schmearing, I sleep in a contraption that could possibly be used in a 50 Shades of Grey type scenario (note to self, remember this) since it’s got buckles and straps which I wear in order to not get the chest wrinkles common to women my age. It’s going in the back of my closet today. I’m tired of feeling like a trussed up turkey.
So, I’m plopping in bed all lotioned, creamed, oiled, and bound up. Gee…I wonder why I’m sleeping alone. (You may insert an eye roll here).
Why in the fuck do women go to such measures to try to stay young looking? I’m the FIRST person to say how women need to accept themselves for who they are (I actually did a Tedx Talk on it), to be proud of their bodies, to love themselves for their accomplishments, to understand that beauty is so much more than what is reflected back in the mirror. And believe you me, I try! However, when you are bombarded with gorgeous young women in the media, while ads for older women are all about staying young, you begin to figure out that young equals better in our society. Why?? I don’t get it.
Confession: during the summer of the breakdown I had, I did something I regret terribly. It was just a few weeks before everything went to hell: I had a face lift. Yep. I did. J had mentioned something his mom said about my age, and I became extremely self-conscious about it (actually, I still am: old habits, or in this case messages, are hard to break). I went to a plastic surgeon, something I never thought in a million years I’d do, and was talked into it. That’s not what I went in for, but the doc made it sound like the answer to all my woes. So, I had a 90 minute surgery where the doc literally cut my face from ear to ear, pulled down the skin (you can gag…I’ll wait), stitched up my facial muscles, and then put in 22 staples AND 22 stitches to re-attach my skin.
And my reward? Paying this guy $5000 for the pleasure of sleeping upright in my ma’s chair for a week straight, not being able to talk (for some reason, ma wasn’t too upset by this…hmmm) not being able to open my mouth to eat which required ma to pour soup down my gullet, not being able to shower well since I couldn’t get my face wet, having so many bruises I looked like Rocky after being pummeled by Apollo Creed, and being in a lot of pain. It hurt like hell.
But, I figured all of this was worth it if J liked the results (remember, he’s significantly younger than I am). Well…that was a fiasco in itself. I had the surgery while he was on maneuvers with the National Guard and was told by him that he wouldn’t be able to text or call me during this time. I was mostly healed when he got home and…wait for it…he broke up with me to be with his ex girlfriend. By the way, he texted and called her during the entire month he was gone. Sigh.
I can’t tell you how much I regret that fucking surgery. Not because I felt coerced into it, but because I HATE that I did something so drastic to look younger again. For piss sakes, I’m 53. 53!! I’ve done a lot in that time. I’ve put my body through hell. I’m a hard worker; I’ve always taken care of my yard, the house maintenance, painting, digging, planting, etc. and my hands show it. I’ve had a baby (quite large I might add) who I adore with all my heart. I’ve taught for 25 years. I’ve been through 3 divorces (another eye roll). I’ve earned these wrinkles…and God knows I deserve them.
I’m trying so hard to be ‘real’ in my life now. No masks. No lies when I’m asked how I am. No pretty stories to sugarcoat having this…say it with me…fucking bastard of a mental illness. I’m living genuinely…authentically…and it’s about time. 50 years of hiding who I am was exhausting. No wonder I have wrinkles.
As my magic potions run out, I’m not going to replace them. I’m going to take care of me like I should, but I’m done trying to turn back the clock. If I want people to accept my inside, I need to learn to accept my outside. Yes, we live in a youth oriented culture. Yes, people lose their value as they age. Yes, women are held up to the standards of perfection. But let me tell you something: I’m still valuable and I’ll always be a million miles away from perfect no matter what I do. But I’m me. Finally me. And it feels really good.