The truth isn’t always hard. For me, today it will be. (read: vulnerability alert)
I have cystic acne. It feels like I always have and, so far, it seems like I always will. I try to hide it as best as humanly possible with concealer and makeup that I’m not skilled at applying. When I was younger and had long hair all the way down my back, it was very much because blemishes were easy to hide behind lots of hair. My signature scarf style emerged out of necessity once chopping my long hair into a pixie cut and positively loving it. For a long time, my ever-present scarf was no different than Linus’ blue blanket.
I have a lot of healing to do around this topic, both physically and mentally. While I’m sure the meanness of middle school and high school girls is pretty evenly distributed, some of the girls in my school were positively evil. Once I recall Leigh Silver (pseudonym) was assigned to pair up with me in the sixth grade. She was easily the most popular and on this particular day, our partnership focused her cruel behavior in my direction. This was not the first time, nor would it be the last, but it is one that really sticks. She called over a few of the boys from the class who would essentially do whatever she commanded and proceeded to point out each and every one of the red bumps on my face, asking me to turn toward them and the light so they could see them better. I made some joke and everyone laughed. Thank goodness Mr. Anderson (pseudonym) called everyone back to their seats.
While this story and many others still send chills and waves of nausea through me when I think of them, I struggle to remember that these things happenED. They are not happenING.
Yesterday afternoon, I began to feel the familiar tingling just below the skin that preempts a flare up; right on my chin. I did all the things I always try to do to prevent it from actually happening. Lately, these at home treatments (generally utilizing doTerra’s HD clear or Melaleuca) do the trick pretty well. Not. This. Time. Just before 1:00 am, I began to have a dream. My brain blocked out most of it, but I do remember the whole plot of the dream was focused around pain on my chin. When I woke up, I looked at the clock: 1:02 am. My chin was throbbing. I slid out of bed, crept down the stairs, and with some mix of irrational shame and embarrassment, took some Advil, drank some watermelon juice, put and icepack on my chin, and watched Ocean’s Eleven (because Julia Roberts always has perfect skin). I spent some time looking up the information for my dermatologist. I tried to go back to bed around 3:00 am, but toiled over actually seeking treatment up until the call to see if there was an appointment opening, during the call, during the drive to the appointment, during the appointment, and even now several hours later.
There are a few other things going on around the edges of my life. These are things that are happening around me, but while they don’t directly impact me, they impact people I love, so they are things I’m thinking about and have an opinion about. A recent common theme is that it seems like a lot of these people I love are choosing to be in agony. These people are making conscious choices to be unhappy. Whether it is refusing to release (the perception of) control over uncontrollable things, refusing professional advice, refusing to see what’s really happening, or trying to make everyone else but the self happy, the people I love are making the choice to suffer. While I don’t call them out every time I observe this (should I? should I never call it out? conversation for another time), I do enough to know better. I should know better than to ever choose to suffer especially when the end of this suffering is so close and so simple. So I’m making the choice to not suffer. I’m not going to suffer from this. I’m not going to carry the anxiety of this story. And now that I’ve put this story out into the world, I’m going to have a nice reminder the next time I feel that familiar tingle, that there is relief and I do not have to choose to suffer.
Do you know people who seem to choose to suffer?
Does it work?
What would it look like if you didn’t choose to suffer these things?
Think. Connect. Elevate.