a few years ago, i had some uninvited guests turn up.
they arrived without warning, made themselves cozy, and gave me no indication of how long they planned on staying.
my guests took the form of two flesh colored bumps on the side of my face. and, let me tell you, i put them through the ringer. scrubs, cleansers, superhuman squeezing, a bizarre vibrating zap-it-away now stick. nothing was too extreme in my quest to rid myself of them. but nothing worked. and so they became, to my chagrin, permanent residents. photo bomber extraordinaires.
after my mom had a brush with skin cancer, i decided it would be wise to get those suckers checked out. you know, for my health (of course). that was how i found myself in the plastic surgeon’s office.
if you have never been inside a plastic surgeon’s office, it is something to be experienced. for one thing, all of the receptionists are done. as in: floaty skirts, flirty lashes, their girls, well, lifted to gravity defying proportions. instead of a mishmash of stained clifford books, outdated newspapers, and the ever popular canadian living, there are meticulously stacked fashion magazines, each one brimming with poreless airbrushed masks staring back at you. as if to remind you why you’re there. while waiting for my appointment, i found myself completely fixated by an assembly line of well maintained women being called out rapid fire by a dr. who didn’t even have time to remove his mask in between each injection-filled session. i congratulated myself for being far less self-absorbed then all of them. i mean, i was there for my health.
in the examining room, the dr. squinted at my face behind his glasses. i held my breath, waiting for his diagnosis.
“it seems to just be a build up of scar tissue. it may not even need to be removed. . . . ”
it was at this moment i became embarrassingly aware of my ulterior motive. see, i had convinced myself that i was quite the health conscious keener in having this malady assessed. what i hadn’t quite gotten around to admitting was that my new found conscientiousness was thinly veiling my true, rather superficial intentions, which was something along the lines of: ‘get this off my freaking face RIGHT NOW’. as i was figuring out how to express myself in a completely non self-obsessed way, the dr. cut me off . . .
” . . .but, you know, i rarely see two of them together. it’s probably best if we remove them and run a biopsy.”
i exhaled. ‘excellent’, i thought. ‘at least now i won’t be seen as superficial’. (yes, i can hear you laughing)
finally, the day came. after receiving enough freezing to put down a moose, my guests were evicted. my face was bloated and red and boasting a handful navy blue stitches (seriously, has no one invented flesh colored thread yet? seems to me that would be a gold mine).
two weeks later, my stitches were out, and in their place were two raw little lines below my right ear.
the dr. came in and cut straight to the chase:
“it looks like it was a build up of scar tissue. essentially, you’ve just traded one scar for another.”
it was an astute, if painful, sum up. i’d been picking and prodding these little useless lumps for years, believing my whole perception of myself would be altered if they would just disappear. finally, i had what i’d always wanted. but really, i had simply traded one scar for another.
i realize how often this is the case for me. thinking i’ll be prettier, thinner, more commercially attractive, if i didn’t have extra blemishes. or well endowed hips. or a bit of a tummy. but on the days that i’m a little more blemish free, or i’m convinced my hips have shrunk overnight, or a deficit of bread in the house has flattened out my typically high-off-wheat belly, there’s always something else throwing off the picture. a new preoccupation arises. my unforgiving eyes blaze down my body and hone in on yet another flaw. pointless. futile. a never ending cycle.
my little red lines are still healing. they may never fade completely. and some might say those little bumps were far less noticeable then what i’ve got going on now. but they are a reminder. to stop scrutinizing a newly christened flaw the moment i’ve retired an old one.
to stop trading one scar for another.