Eye of the Beholder
October 20, 2013

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:


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. l 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.


    I am an author (of three books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

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