I have a particular problem that used to be bad all the time but now, it only affects me at certain times of the month or when I can't run. It has a name. Every flaw. Every asymmetry, that is normal for a person to have, is magnified, far and beyond the usual issues people have with their appearance.
I look at myself and a recent picture and just before I can express my horror of how awful I look in the picture, Sweet Baboo says, "Hey, that's a good picture of you!" My closest best friend, when I lived in South Dakota, thought that I was vain because I checked the mirror so much. She just didn't get i that I was checking, the same way someone with an eating disorder might check their weight.
I blame my mom. And maybe, some chemical stuff that I probably inherited from my father's side. LOTS of depression and self loathing runs deep in both sides of my family. But anyway, Mom was a professional artist and so I have more than a healthy knowledge of "proper" proportion and symmetry and am acutely aware that I have neither of those things and frankly neither does anyone else but remember, a good neurosis is all about me Me, and my inability to stop fixating on how much I often wish I looked like something other than how I looked.
In bad times, I see the chicken pock scar from when I was ten, and the mole that I've tried to freeze off 3 times despite most people not even noticing that it's there, and the groove that's deepening between my eyebrows, and the nose that I've had altered, and lines that are just starting on my forehead. I feel the insecurity rising in me, the desperation, as I look at a face that looks like I've had a stroke. My face misshapen. I look like a face made of putty that's been stretched unevenly.
But then I say, Screw it. And I go out for a run. And then it fades away. I come back all sassy and sweaty and don't care how I look. I see myself, and I see strong and healthy. I'm a strong healthy slightly assymetrical nearsighted forty-something woman and I don't notice the lines after the run. I just notice the glow, and the smile.
Except that right now, I can't run. Erg. I've gotten better about this problem that I have with my appearance, but I want to stay ahead of it. I used to take meds that helped with various things, but nothing ever helped with this, until I started running.
So. But. I'm not writing this for validation of how non-ugly I am. I know, intellectually, that I'm not ugly. But when putty face strikes, it's not intellectual. It's emotional, and it's chemical. I'm telling you because maybe you know what it's like. I'm telling you that it's not you. It's emotional, and it's chemical. You just have to keep searching to find the solution, which for me, was running. Sometimes, for some people, it's meds, or therapy. For me, it was running.
Running, for me, is magical. I stop picking at my skin. I stop staring in the mirror. Sometimes I go by reflective surfaces and I even forget to check. I run, and I'm fabulous, and beautiful, and strong.
So I run. ALOT. Except that right now I can't. Soooo, I guess this afternoon I'll try aqua-jogging. Running is my new drug, my new addiction that makes the ugly putty face go away.
I'll do anything to keep it from coming back.
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