Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Loving My Real Face

On August 26th I turned 57 years old. During the last week or so leading up to that event, I felt depressed and useless.  I went into a depression for about a week, wondering if I'd even be able to climb out of bed every morning.This isn't how I usually am.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I don't bounce out of bed ready to take on the world. In general, though, I am a happy, positive person. I tend to see the good in people and the possibilities in life.  So what, I wondered, was eating at me? Fifty seven isn't that big of a deal in the countdown of years. There are milestones like 21, 30, 40 and even 50 that hadn't affected me in this way, so why now?

Then I remembered that my father had died at 57. Just came in from jogging and died. I had breast cancer a couple of years ago and am overweight. I also had a complete hysterectomy at 35. Now that I don't take hormones, did I increase my chances for heart attack to the point where I would be like my dad?His dad and all of his brothers except one died young, from heart attacks. Was this going to be my last year?

Once I realized that I had discovered the underlying issue the depression went away.  Hell, I thought, no one gets out of here alive. You had breast cancer and were lucky enough that they found it very early. The women on both sides of your family live forever.  So long, in fact, that they forget who they are or where they are, and shit themselves while whiling away the hours in never-never land.

Suddenly, death didn't seem as awful.  Look, we are here for however long we are here for. Other than using some common sense, I'm convinced that there isn't much we can do to change our expiration date.  Am I going to sit and worry that I might die anytime or am I going to get busy and enjoy life until the day I finally do croak (or don't even know I am living)?  That was an easy decision. 

Game on.

Then I realized something else. I had been wearing make-up since I was age 12. For 45 years I had covered my face to make it "prettier", "more glamorous" and, eventually, "younger".  Forty five years. For four and one half decades I had insulted my true identity by telling it that it simply wasn't good enough.

I made a bold decidsion. No more. That day I quit wearing make-up.  (Well, okay, I wear lipstick. It helps my lips keep from cracking. Ando, sometimes, I dab on a little blush or put concealer on a blemish...because yes I still break out once in awhile.) I got a half dozen compliments on how much softer my face looked, how much prettier. Strange, that. I do know I inherited my mother's good skin and my father's lovely eyes.

At first it felt weird.  I was kind of embarrassed when people looked at me.  It's a shame how advertisers have convinced us that as women we don't look like we care enough if we don't alter our faces. Yes, I was almost ashamed.  I even apologized to my husband, for God's sake! He said to go without the make-up all the time, it didn't matter to him.  Bless his heart.  He gets it.

Then, all of a sudden, it felt immensely freeing.  One less thing to take up my time in the morning.  Several less things to spend money on, several less chemicals my skin is absorbing.  I go everwhere without make-up now.  It feels absolutely wonderful.  .

So, here I am.  Finally, after 57 years, this is me.  If someone doesn't like it, they kiss my left butt cheek.  If they're still bothered, they can move on to the right one. I am Caddy Rowland, fifty-seven-year-old married woman who writes, paints, and doesn't wear make-up.Finally, I am no longer disapointed in who I am or what I look like.That's good enough for me now, and it always should have been.The miracle of being here is all that matters.

Will I never wear make-up again?  Oh, I will sometimes. I was always one attracted to make-up, lingerie, expensive perfume, and all of that. So, when the urge to be more dramatic strikes me, out will come the tubes, brushes, and colors.  But here is the difference: make-up no longer makes me better. Make-up is simply a prop that I will infrequently pull out because I want to play with color, just for the fun of it. Most of the time, I will forego it and be bold enough to live in my own skin.  Fun is found in many other places, and I want to world to see my real joy while I experience it.

Game on.

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