I looked in the mirror and did not recognize the face staring back at me.
I knew the eyes. Those dark brown eyes flecked with green, yeah, those were mine. The eyes that see too much, sparkle with mischief, feel the weight of the world, love much, and blink back the pain. Yes, those were my eyes, but the shape is off.
The rest of the face and hair and stuff? Who IS that person?
There have been times in my life when I look in the mirror and don't like who I see. That's usually my first indication that I'm struggling with Depression with a decidedly capital D.
But this feeling that I'm wearing a shell? That's new. I've made the analogy a lot over the past couple of years that I feel trapped in my head. And yes, I know I'm aging - thus feeling like my body has outlasted all of its warranties and is decaying all around me comes part and parcel with that. But this is more than that.
I feel like I'm stuck in someone else's skin.
The hair is unruly. It can't be my hair. I know how my hair behaves when I run a brush through it vs when I've slept on it. I know how it behaves wet, with product, or without product. Not this hair. This hair does things I've never seen it do. This hair curls more, parts on either side of my head, and does the complete wrong thing when I brush it. There's no rich dark brown anymore. The texture is completely foreign, and I don't know how to manage it.
The color and texture of the hair, though, that's me getting old. Of course I'm graying. I've earned every gray hair that I have. I know that I have graying hair. I just don't recognize it.
The face? Now that's where I get completely lost.
I always loved my cheekbones. Also loved the shape of my ears. Didn't think much about my nose except to note that I had one and it had blackheads but otherwise it was a nose, found my lips interesting, and was glad my chin didn't have a dimple. Always hated the perpetual double-chin hiding in the wings, waiting for me to lower my head and turn into a frog. I never once used an eyebrow pencil and only used mascara if eyeshadow powdered my lashes into looking lighter. There was always a patch of acne in one spot or another waiting to bloom, and then there was that sign of... life? spark? glow? that gave away the multitude of thoughts going on behind my face.
That's me. That's always how I've pictured myself.
This face, I don't know who I am looking at. It doesn't have that same glow. Where'd the acne go? But more than that, where did the shape go? It's not the same shape.
It has a red nose and red circles on the cheeks like a painted china doll. Or Rudolph. Or an alcoholic. I'm not even sure if those cherry spots on my cheeks demarcate the cheek bones. The overall pallor is gray. It matches the hair. The double-chin is more than just a hint, and are those my lips? I guess they are, but are they? The eyebrows and eyelashes are graying; the eye lashes require mascara in order to be visible.
I have never, ever, EVER *required* mascara!! And where did the elvish hint in my eyebrows go??
But it's more than the changes due to aging. Its the fact that I feel surprised every time I look in a mirror. Who IS that person? What is going on behind those eyes? What are they hiding? Where did they put the person who belongs there? The Aura is completely different. This has to be some nightmare.
When my doctor first began trying different medications a couple of years ago, the wrong meds would leave me with the feeling that my skin didn't fit.
This isn't that feeling. In fact, sitting here staring at my computer monitor feels completely normal. I'm wearing my favorite pajama bottoms and USMC hoodie. My toes are cold because they're always cold. I feel like me.
I've acclimated to the "this knee is sore today" and the "Oh, it's gonna snow, the arthritis where my elbow broke is acting up" and the "Now what did I do to that ankle??" pops, zings of pain, and general I'm-getting-older limps and feels.
I've ... um... well, not *adjusted* to the anxiety and dizzy spells and other things associated with my mental disorder and side-effects of my drugs, but I have learned to identify them and cope.
So how I *feel* on the inside still feels like me. You know, angry that my brain is having the hiccups, joyful and full of grattitude for the blessings in my life, singing because I can, snarking because I can, being silly because I can. etc. It's my brain, I am quirky.
But how I look? I mean, seriously, that can't be me. It just can't.
Do I actually look like that? Have I always had "resting bitch face"??? Even putting jewelry on doesn't conjure up 14 yr old me wearing a new pair of earrings and feeling pretty because of some shiny cheap metal I bought for a dollar at the gas station.
So who is this girl? Who is that girl in the mirror?
Is this what it feels like to age? You're you on the inside, but the outside no longer matches?