Sunday, October 20, 2013

Eye of the Beholder

Note the date--still not cashed in!
In my desk drawer there is a lovely gift certificate to a spa, courtesy of my kids. It’ll expire if I don’t watch out. I could use it for a facial, a massage, a mani-pedi, and I haven’t. So what’s stopping me?

In my bathroom there is:  toothbrush, face scrub, cold cream. My entire beauty routine!! I should probably be using anti-aging thises and thats, to trick Mother Nature and give me back a few years, but I don’t. So what’s the problem?

In my closet: a “gently used” pair of running shoes. And I do mean gently. I’ve gotten so out of shape that I huff and puff even bending down to tie the laces. So why aren’t I hitting the road?

I’ve thought about it a lot recently. I’d love to claim I have no personal vanity, but that’d be a huge whopper. Oh, I care how I look, all right…I just don’t want to put any effort into it. And to be totally honest, I have my physical appearance and my history of bipolar disorder inextricably intertwined in my head. You see, when I was at my worst I became completely obsessed with clothes and makeup. I got all dolled up to empty the trash, and took an inordinate amount of time primping before a trip to the grocery store.  I even wrote a poem about it, way back when:

A small part of my old cosmetic collection

Looking at our household budget
Over the last year
It wouldn’t surprise me
If the item purchased most
Was lip gloss
For so many years
I was an actress
Makeup was part of my job
And every single time
I couldn’t wait
To scrub clean after the show
It felt like magic
Here is the girl again
The real girl
Under the layers of powder and paint                       
I wake up
And so disappointed
My real girl isn’t in there anymore
Instead, I’m this--this
Same, sad, nasty, twisted thing
every day
I write a note
On my face
In thick black mascara
Please save me
In pinkest blush
I’m dying here
In the brightest blue eye shadow
And everyday
I sign it
With a slick red lip gloss kiss
So far no one has answered
Maybe tomorrow
I’ll use green eye shadow instead

Luckily, shortly after that poem was written I got the psychiatric help I so desperately needed, and for the past several years I have been on a pretty even keel. But there has to be a happy medium, right? I can spruce up a bit without being Maybelline’s Most Valuable Customer.  And trying to look my best on the outside doesn’t mean I’m hiding something shattered inside.

So I think I’ll set my alarm a little earlier tomorrow morning, and try to go for a run.  I might even slap on a little foundation and yes, lip gloss too, before I leave for work. And it doesn’t matter who sees me. I’ll do this for myself. 


  1. Elise, your whole presence is fresh and lively; it shines from your face. I did enjoy this piece, and have much catching up to do in enjoying your others! Meantime, enjoy the run, and know that even if you're walking, you're getting a worthwhile workout.

    1. Thank you so much, Casey! I will move (somehow) tomorrow!!