Sometime over last summer my face changed. It began to break out and became simultaneously sopping wet with grease and so dry it was itchy all the time. Deeply painful acne popped up along my jawline and in the plumped out circles of my cheeks. My forehead was spotted and shiny and nothing I did could stop it.
I changed my face wash. I changed my makeup. I baked in the sun and stood in steaming showers.
But nothing helped.
I was marked.
I felt hideous.
Habits of laying my head on my hand at night had to be broken, because the dirty film covering my hands even after washing them (and the grease from lotions applied before collapsing into bed) would only aggravate the pores that were screaming in rage.
Even my hair changed. It because greasy and dirty looking. It grew in weirdly sporadic bursts and no matter the cut would seem to either lay slicked back with grease or poofed out completely frizzy and bushy.
I didn't know what to do. I felt unfamiliar in my own face and lost in a pile of poofy hair.
I changed face wash again, back to one 3 face washes ago and it stopped the red itchy bumps but the deep and painful acne was still there. Bumping and throbbing with every pulse of my heart.
I changed shampoos, to a non-sulfate brand that seems to help still. Although, I have to be vigilant about the conditioner/hair ratio.
I cut my long layers to shorter than I would have preferred, but am willing to push through to forgo the accidental bushy mullet that was taking over my scalp.
But I also began to avoid mirrors.
I avoided windows and even the darkened screen of computers and smart phones for fear of catching a glimpse of what felt like a grotesque version of a person I once thought I was.
I struggled to keep making good food choices, and to be honest I struggled to continue to make good life choices.
I was (am) stuck in this mire of self-loathing and loath(ed) myself even more for being stupid enough to be stuck there.
There are days that I feel like I'm coming out of this cycle. But there are also days that I make a choice every day to get out of bed.
I just feel so out of place.
Out of place in my own body.
Out of sorts in years and decades old relationships that were cruising along just fine.
I feel like I don't even recognize the face I see in the mirror and that the eyes reflecting back at me must surely belong to someone else.
So I stop looking in mirrors.
So I stop calling friends.
So I hold on and nurture hurt that while it was justified in the beginning has grown into something so big I can't see the edges of it anymore.
So I disconnect.
I put on my "everything's fine" face and I do what needs to be done.
And occasionally, I'll gulp down some fresh air. Occasionally I'll believe you when you say you love me and want me around. Occasionally I'll look in the mirror and feel startled by the recognition of the person staring back at me.
Occasionally is enough for now. Enough until tomorrow when I meet for help the first time. Enough until tomorrow when I wake up with mercies that He has promised are new every morning. Enough until I feel back in place, or back in a place that isn't as scary and riddled with fear and panic as this place is right now.
My face is still different, and I don't think it will ever be back to what it was before. Because I've panicked and pick pick picked at the deep and painful acne. I've panicked and picked at the deep and painful aches that I've shoved down for so long. And there are scars that may never go away. There are marks that may just be part of what I am from here forward. But I'm moving forward anyway, hoping that the scars will become part of the beauty of this redeemed life