This is not the post I’d composed in my head during yoga class this morning. That post might yet materialize, but what’s top of my mind in the here and now of this chilly grey first afternoon of spring is my eyes. My eyelids to be precise. On my left eyelid, I’ve developed what may be a sty, though it hasn’t been diagnosed yet by a doctor, and wikipedia suggests several exciting alternatives (and yes, I’m trying quite hard not to self-diagnose). On my right eyelid, another bump is starting up. The one upon my left eyelid has grown rather, well, enormous, let’s just say. I can’t look up out of that eye, or to the left, because of the lump in the eyelid physically blocking my way. It’s red. It’s swollen. It’s disfiguring. It’s the kind of thing that people feel compelled to comment on because, you know, it’s there, in your face, so to speak. In mine, that is, which is facing yours.
What is especially miserable about this unexpected arrival is how it shakes my sense of self. It targets my vanity. I think of myself as being a strong, confident woman. But add in a giant eyelid pustule, and suddenly I shrink. I become smaller, weaker, more cautious. For example, I’ve noticed myself not entering into friendly casual conversation with strangers–you know, the kind of conversation that happens in line-ups at the grocery store, or in other public, potentially (but not necessarily) social situations. Once upon a time, I never had those conversations. I avoided them and stayed quiet. But post-children, I’ve grown to enjoy that kind of interaction, and I don’t think these exchanges are superficial at all, but a way to be present in the world, and open to the humanness of everyone I come into contact with.
I wonder–is my confidence, my willingness to reach out, only skin deep?
Do I need to consider myself attractive to step forth, strong and confident? If I feel ugly or weak, am I still myself? If I were much more sick, or altered physically, would my sense of self crumble quite utterly? What is it that makes me strong and confident? It can’t only be on the outside, on the surface, can it? Can I feel like myself while integrating a mild deformity into who I am?
Can I rock this eyelid pustule?