Saturday, August 3, 2013

To Be Perfectly Honest

I am not crazy. Okay, that's not entirely true but not totally crazy and here's the reason I was not shocked or particularly disturbed when this dermatological gel started fucking my face up so badly- it's because some years back another dermatologist put me on a different but similar regime with a medication called Efudex (which obviously translates to "fuck you, skin") which turned my face into something which looked as if Napalm had been involved. It was horrendous. It was horrifying. It was horrible and all of the other horr words there might be out there. I couldn't finish the month I was supposed to use it and I doubt anyone in this world ever does. Two weeks is about max, most likely.
But this, this Solaraze is supposed to be NOTHING LIKE EFUDEX, according to my new dermatologist and the oozing and scabbing came on slowly and it wasn't until just last week that I realized that this was again, horrible. After reading some things online I'm not sure that what I'm experiencing is right at all and I am not going to keep applying it and I am going to go back to see the doctor, I guess, dammit, fuck it, motherfucking fuck.
Here's why he convinced me not to just get the liquid nitrogen burn treatment- he claimed that this gel will get what we can't even see yet. And I understand that. But this is unlivable and not working for me at all. I am miserable and already so unhappy with the way I look that adding this layer of sheer nastiness to my face, not to mention the way it FEELS, is intolerable.
Simply intolerable.

I just hope to hell it all heals.

I have been thinking lately that I am a self-hating ageist. Is this even possible? Why don't more people talk about this? It must be fairly universal or the plastic surgery and anti-aging cream industry wouldn't be what it is. It's actually starting to affect my life. I have never had a very positive self-image. Even when I was young and quite beautiful, which I now realize I was, looking back, I never thought of myself as such. Oh, I had my moments when I was not unaware of being a decent-looking woman but even the attention of a great many men didn't make me feel as if I was really a very fine looking woman. I always felt that perhaps they, the men, just knew that there was something sexual about me and that that was why they turned their eyes to me. When you are sexually abused as a child you are taught a wicked lesson which is that your worth is in your sexuality. Sexual predators frequently give gifts to their victims and they pay attention to them and they show what could be interpreted as love to them. Of course, this is all a sick lie but children are so eager to be loved, to be paid attention to, to be given presents. Especially children who lack these things in their lives for whatever reason. A mother who cannot demonstrate them, who may be emotionally lacking and somewhat withholding in the love and affection department.

Yes. Well.


But, because of this and because of that, I never ever really liked my looks although in my forties I got a lot closer to doing that than I had ever done before in my life. I was a regular and devoted exerciser, I watched my diet closely, I appreciated my body and what it could do whether walking miles at the Greenway or lifting weights or working in the yard. Sure, I do some of that now, but not to that extreme and I looked rather fine in my forties and they were my favorite decade in many ways.

And then the fifties came and things began to crumple and rumple in a way that was no joke and the sunspots appeared in earnest and the weight became harder and harder to control. Of course, menopause was part of all of this- a completely natural part of a woman's life but, not unlike labor, very hard to bear at times. The hot flashes were endless and frustrating and were in no way under my control. They took me over like a demon and I even felt like a demon as they came on, as if I could rend and tear something, a huge hot anger would engulf me and believe me, sweeties, experiencing that as often as forty or fifty times a day can break a woman down.

It's hard. Menopause is such a time of loss. Loss of fertility and loss of the physical cycle which has been a part of her life for so very long, a thing as trusted and predictable (in my case anyway) as the moon. And my fertility was always a very strong part of my sense of self. Pregnancy made me feel powerful and if there ever was a time in my life when I felt beautiful, it was some of those months when my babies were growing inside of me. And oh! how I loved those babies. Perfect, pure love. For the first time in my life, that was what I felt when my babies were born and were young.

And so even though I knew I didn't want any more children when I hit menopause, I felt bereft when the possibility was taken from me. I know. It doesn't make sense but that's the honest truth. I have always been extremely womb-centered. I love bags and bowls and baskets. I love the shape of an egg in my hand, I love the cup of a baby's bottom in my palm, the roundness of their heads. All of it- all of the roundness of life which holds things- these are the things I have always been drawn to.
And so I have had to adapt, you know. To rethink how I feel about myself and my worth as my womb dried up and as my sexuality became so much less prominent. It's hard to admit that, but it's true.

And of course I know that there are beautiful older women. I adore beautiful older women, I admire them, I see their beauty.
I just do not feel, in any way, as if I were one of them.
I simply feel as if I look more and more like an older MAN if you want to know the truth, and old age can do that. It can androgenize us, men and women both, as our defining physical sexual characteristics fade and blur. And droop and sag. And...

It's just hard.

And of course it's not just the way I look but the way I feel, as well. Fearful, always, that my health or my husband's health will fail. And eventually, that will be the case for both of us. And, as I do, I am pre-worrying about it incessantly. If he doesn't answer the phone, I feel certain he's dropped dead from a heart attack. Every headache portends a brain tumor. Every red spot on the skin a cancer. Every palpitation a coronary.

It's all ridiculous and it's real and I hope to come to some peace with all of it.
And of course, older age does have its benefits, mainly grandchildren.

Here is Owen when he was at the birthday party today at the Evil Chuck E Cheese.

There's your beauty. Isn't he grown-up looking? A boy at his first big-boy birthday party. I am stunned at that child and his gorgeousness.

And this. Well.

This is one of the most beautiful pictures I've ever posted.
Gibson and his grandfather.
The man I love and who seems to still love me, despite the fact that I am looking like an old man these days. An old man with oozing, scabbing, itching places on my face. And perhaps eventually the face will heal and I'll come to terms with my aging face and body. It may be a slow process but I'm hopeful in that I'm now pretty resigned to the fact that I'm probably never going to have another baby.
And I am even cool with calling myself a crone and the very idea of that used to make me want to just go ahead and jump off a bridge and get it all over with.
I still have those moments but looking at that picture, I know I might as well stick around for awhile.

And if I have a deity, she would be Ixchel, the Mayan Crone, Goddess of the moon and fertility and childbirth and weaving and the sea and writing.

And if I ever get around to getting a tattoo, that'll be what I get. On my crumpled, rumpled, old soft skin. She holds a bowl and yes, it is upside down, but it represents to me the roundness and fullness that was once there, which is something to remember. To know that even after that which was has disappeared, there can still be power and life and purpose and meaning.

Well, that's my post tonight wherein I tell you honestly how one woman, me, feels about aging and a little bit about why she got herself into this horrible, horrendous, horrifying medical treatment.

I had a wonderful time with Gibson today. If you tell that boy you love him, he will hug you and kiss you like nobody's business. Ain't no one withholding love or affection from those children. And I told him I loved him about, oh, fifty times.

And he doesn't care if I'm old. He points to the places on my face and I say, "That's my boo-boo," and he digs his finger in, that pointed little finger and I have to tell him no and then he hugs me some more.

I may be a crone and my face may be fucked up but my grandsons love me anyway and I couldn't know and love them and be loved by them if I wasn't a crone.
Which is wonderful but to be honest, doesn't make it ALL better.

But it sure helps.

Love...Ms. Moon


  1. Oh, those photos. Owen is gorgeous and handsome and that blissful smile on Gibson's face is a wonder.

    I'm sorry you're feeling so bad. I wish I knew the answer. I guess there is no answer.

    The tragic thing is that worrying about it will make you age and get ill all the faster. Stress is no friend in this.

    Forgive me, but the Efudex comment really gave me a laugh. You know my stance, there's a whole lot of FU going on in the pharmaceutical business. I hope your doctor sorts out the treatment quick smart.

  2. I worried a lot about us getting old and dying or getting sick after Mom and Pop died. I think that was part of the sadness. I missed them a lot, but I knew that we were the older generation now. And that sucks. But I'm glad to have come through to not be obsessing about it anymore. One day at a time.

  3. You are beautiful. I am sorry you're feeling like you described.

    I have been thinking about letting my hair go gray. Why do I care? But, I am vain and still dye it.

  4. Oh Mary! First. That picture of Owen and Grandfather. The absolute bliss and love of it just made my heart swell.
    And dear heart how perfectly you have captured the feeling of aging. the agony of it. there is nothing for it. this is the path and the consolation, those grandbabies. pretty sweet...
    i like the mayan crone goddess!
    would make a great tattoo even on sagging skin.
    hope your face heals quickly.

  5. This was a powerful post. I am glad you have decided to go back to the doctor and get the oozing checked out. You shouldn't have to suffer like this. For what it is worth, I think you are one of the most beautiful beings inside and out. Sweet Jo

  6. I'm sorry that this crap is having that bad effect on your skin. Kids are so healing. Yes, it's getting to me too, the fragility and impermanence of life, worst thing is WE HAVE TO ACCEPT IT...... can't get my head around that. I wonder if there is an online community that deals with these issues. We're all going to need to consider them, if we are lucky enough. (And that last bit is important)

  7. That is a really fantastic picture!
    And yes, aging is... intimidating. Little did we know. Naturally.

  8. At 42 I am in the midst of "the change" that none of my friends are going through. They all still look fabulous! Me? Terrible cystic acne, wrinkles, sagging skin, hot flashes, mood swings, (crying, raging and feeling fat and worthless) gushing periods that make me want to have a hysterectomy. And through it all I feel so alone. Even though I don't want to have any more babies it sucks that I can't.

  9. Hey Mer,

    Glen and Gibson are so yummy! Gibson looks like a tiny Buddha.

    What an Odyssey with your face. That would be rough at any age. I used to have really bad acne most of my life(it still flares) and it would also scab and I still have problems looking people in the eye up close. I guess I'm saying I empathize. the face is such a tender place.

    I am going to send an email about the rest because this comment started to grow when I got to the menopause portion of the show!

    But let me end by saying that I have known you a long time. You have always been beautiful and still are. Others perceive you differently than you are perceiving yourself, I assure you. Whenever your name comes up in conversation it's always good stuff, and yes beauty is part of the mix.

  10. We come to this earth, we live, we love and are loved (if we're lucky), and then we leave this earth. To hell with everything that tries to ruin that in-between part.

  11. Hi. Mary. I think it is because we're so close to our birthdays that makes us take such fierce inventories of our bodies for I am feeling the same but autumn is near darling a changing of seasons that energizes us. Your life is incredibly rich and full and your energy is astonishing. Just hold on sweet birthday girl and the wheel will turn. That's what we have to believe. I love you.

  12. Except for the sexual abuse part, I felt and feel this way. I'm usually able to keep it on the back burner. You captured it so well.

  13. Mary, I read this last night and it flooded a river of thoughts, but I was so deep down tired I couldn't think. But I looked at that picture of Gibson smiling into that grandpa kiss for a while and it is the most beautiful picture you have ever posted.

    To be perfectly honest, reading this post made me realize, again, that I am not alone in how I have been feeling in this stage of my live, the crone years, and that what we are feeling and experiencing is a tangible, terrible loss and it is ok to be sad about landing in this unexpected place. I could have written many of your words verbatim, because you and I have experienced some very parallel life moments and have come to many of the same conclusions, what conclusions there are to be had.

    I keep waiting for this stage of pupation to end and for my last version of me to emerge, a shining, silver haired wise woman, who delights in the world around her and embraces each day with joy. I am damn tired of waiting, and I'm pretty worn down from this part of the journey. There are precious few people I can be perfectly honest with about this, because if they haven't walked in these shoes yet, they are easily bored, annoyed or dismissive, and that has me bottling all this up, until I meet someone who understands.

    Thank you, over and over again, and I hope we get to come through this narrows together, to something that doesn't scare us senseless, or worry us silly. I'm going to keep hoping.


  14. Jo- Well, I don't trust the pharmaceutical industry much more than you do and I learn to trust it less every day. And this is just all a part of aging, isn't it? Pills and potions for everything that age brings.

    Syd- One step at a time. One little step.

    Nicol- I wish my hair would turn all white and silver. I am ready for that stage.

    Yobobe- I fear there is nothing quick about this healing. Or, this coming to acceptance either. But yes, there is beauty. That picture. That love.

    Sweet Jo- You are the dearest. I am so grateful for you in my life.

    Allison- I know I am not unique.
    At all.

    Jenny Woolf- I was wondering about that online community...There must be one.

    A- We were stardust. We were golden. Did we ever get back to the garden?

    Birdie- It just sucks. It's hard and it sucks. I don't see one good thing about menopause and I'm sorry to say that but I'd be lying if I said otherwise.

    Ms. Fleur- I have never once noticed acne on your face. I am telling you the truth! Thanks for your sweet words.

    Nancy- True and real and amen, baby.

    Rebecca- Thank you for reminding me that summer's weariness will end. I don't feel as if I have much energy. Does it appear that I do? Thank you, sweetness. Thank you.

    Kristin- It is easier sometimes to accept and bear. And then other times...
    Not so much.

    Mel- We WILL get through this phase. It's just difficult as hell. I think it's worse than puberty was because puberty came with a lot of power and the knowledge that so much was before us. This is not like that at all, is it? Bless our damn hearts. And faces. And bodies.

  15. Thank you, thank you, that was speaking to my soul. I sometimes, no wait, often, very often, feel more like a lost child than a menopausal woman in her mid 50s. So they tell us it's all hormones, but I think it's more, it's all of me being realigned in such a furious unpredictable coming and going that at times all I can do is try and keep breathing and searching for a stick, a doorframe, a tree, a hand, whatever, to hold on to.

  16. Sabine- Yes. Oh god. We need something to hold on to. Yes, yes, yes.

  17. Dear Mary, I got home from our travels last night and came here to catch up with you, and this was the first post i read, and I took a deep breath and felt, yes, this is why, you are so bracingly true, so real all the time, telling not just your truth but all the truths we have no words for, or no guts to tell, and I am so grateful to be able to come here and be part of your commune. Dont worry about that gel, though it does sound right to stop using it. Your face will heal, and in the meantime, you are still beautiful, always so, because you, mary moon, are you. Much love.

  18. I love your honesty. Love that pic of Mr Moon and Gibson. Sweetness. I know you don't really want to hear this and won't believe me, but you are so beautiful, you glow.

  19. I'm sure what you describe is what many, many people feel. I'm still in my forties, and obviously a man, so the experiences are and will be different for me -- but I'll be having them all the same. We all do, right?

    Far be it from me to give medical advice, but I think you need to go back to the doctor pronto and have the dry-ice treatment and put away that nasty ointment for good and ever.

    LOVE the photo of Mr Moon and Gibson.


Tell me, sweeties. Tell me what you think.