I was a hairstylist once. In my past life, I like to say. That one where I didn’t know where I was going, but knew it wanted to be bigger. That one where I loved the freedom to wear what I wanted to work, and color my hair purple and glam out the make-up and fake lashes-because I could. Because it was accepted. Because it was edgy and cool and I was a stylist and that’s what we did. We put on a show behind a hydraulic chair and raised hair higher to heaven and struck color and hid grey. We were masters of deception. It was the one time in my life when I could have had that nose ring I so desperately (wante)ed, because it wouldn’t interfere with the practicalities and logistics of life and work and who I had to be.
Then things changed. It’s funny how we do that. We grow up. We go to nursing school and put the dreams of nose rings and visible tattoos next to the thoughts of sleeping and taking a breath without a textbook in our hands. And I grew out my hair, and stopped coloring and straightening and torturing it into submission. It was a lot of work. Too much work. And I felt like a little piece of me died. Then came graduation, and still no babies, so the time of changing diets and seeing acupuncturist and specialists and chiropractors and running to run away from the infertility took over. I took jobs that paid the bills and met the needs, and moved into the motherhood of older-child adoption. And it became less about me.
The lipstick and lip gloss were replaced by lip balm and moisturizer. Then came the twins, and we put away the dreams of a baby while I swallowed fertility drugs and blood sugar stabilizers, so that I could find the real me, hidden under the layers of Hot Tamales and pizza, because running didn’t do enough. And diet didn’t do enough. I still couldn’t control my body. And I spiraled. Until I became thin. And healthy. And deep down I hid a secret-I didn’t feel like I did it all alone. I couldn’t control my body’s regulation of sugar, so I took medication. It wasn’t my fault, I had done all I could do to try and regulate it-but my ovaries had other plans. Still, I didn’t feel like I really did it on my own. That I really got healthy, and pretty, by myself.
But life took another turn, and under the knife I hoped things would change, and they did. But the medication didn’t work and all the hard work wasted away. And then, through the stowed away dreams of a baby, he came. Not of my body, but of another paper pregnancy. And there was no time. No time to run. No time to sleep. No time to take care of myself. And somewhere along the way, I got old. I didn’t realize it until the pictures with me in them started to surface, so I stopped taking pictures of myself. I put myself behind the camera. And there I have stayed. Unless it’s at the perfect angle. Unless I pre-approve anything that remains on the camera or beyond the lens. And I wonder when it came to be this way. Was it when I swore I would never be in these jeans again, and yet here I am? Was it when I turned the corner over 30 and took a new job and a new baby which wear me thin?
But most of all I wonder, where did I go? Where am I? And I feel lost, and ashamed, and I just want to feel pretty. Doesn’t every girl just want to feel pretty, and approved? And then I read this: The truth rises up against those spurious self-accusations in places like Psalm 45:11. “The King is enthralled by your beauty.” Enthralled! on Jennifer Dukes Lee’s page and I feel the tears burn behind my eyes, because when it all comes down to it, he still thinks I’m beautiful. He made me. And he made me perfectly flawed in body and heart, and he loves the cracks that breath through. And I’m learning. I’m taking it one day at a time and trying to work myself back into the discipline that I knew before. Because this is my life. The life that I need to live. And I vow to do so. And someday? Well, someday I still want that nose ring.