Tag Archives: loss of self identity

Looking for Beautiful

I wanted to be beautiful. It was a dream I had, all my life. It was a stupid dream. However, facing the loss of it, along with the loss of my youth and self-identity, makes me want to smash mirrors and rip up photos.

Aging does not look or feel pretty. It’s bad enough, the tired-looking eyes, wrinkles, graying hair, sagging skin, yellowed teeth… to top it all off, now there are eyeglasses. I always hated wearing or carrying anything extra. Like hats, jewelry, handbags, sunglasses, or makeup…. All nuisances. I want to be fast, light. Unencumbered. Mostly, though, I still want to feel beautiful. As far as I could see, there was nothing beautiful about glasses. Several of my friends look great with them. But me, I slip my bifocals out of sight when anyone comes near. Glasses do not fit in with my perception of myself. Even though I fish them out of purses and pockets a few hundred times a day, and the number of things I need them for keeps growing. Like being able to see photos of my friends’ grandbabies, doing Photoshop or anything on the computer, texting my son, chopping vegetables, driving…. To function or to feel beautiful? That is the question. It may be time to plant eyeglasses on my face for good.

Wearing glasses isn’t the only issue barring my path to beauty. From the beginning of my obsession to play the bugle, I knew that scrunching my lips and spitting into a horn was not going to be attractive. But I didn’t know I’d have to bloat my stomach out to its capacity with each inhale of air in order to play.
“I’ve been trying to hold in my gut for decades, so I could look beautiful,” I told my baby-faced music teacher, hoping he’d skip all the breath exercises.
“Focus on breathing and making a beautiful sound,” he said.

So here I am, encouraging my beer-belly to blossom, sporting my new specs, and trying to make beautiful noise. And trying to groove in my new self-image. It sure is great to be able to identify the food on my dinner plate again, and to recognize approaching friends. I’m going to have to revise my idea of beautiful though. If beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder, I should be able to see it a lot more clearly now.


So, what is beauty anyway?

Healing from Loss: Losing Myself

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, looking at the photo of herself in the hospital.I don’t curse. Probably because of all the hours I spent as a kid in the back of my mother’s car, stuck in traffic on the Long Island Expressway, with my mother ranting at the wheel. There were f—ing idiots driving alongside us, damn a–holes in front of us, and  stinkin’ s—heads in the front. The swearing fascinated me. I couldn’t master her competence or style. So I never tried.

This past week, on the day of my colonoscopy, my friend drove me to and from the hospital and stayed for the brief review after the procedure.
“Do you remember what the doctor said?” she asked the next day when the whole event was a vague memory. I couldn’t even remember what the doctor looked like. “He couldn’t finish the last part of the procedure because you were in pain and were cursing,” she said.
“Me? I don’t curse,” I told her.
“You were cursing. Yes you were,” she insisted.

I was crushed. How rude, I thought. How crude. This couldn’t be true. The worst four-letter words I ever dared to use were “darn” and an occasional “what-the hell?” I got queasy just typing those. The self-image I’d always nursed of a bland, demure, tight-lipped girl-woman was suddenly gone. My self-identity was a fraud. Here I was trying to recover from the loss of my daughter and I somehow had lost myself.
Who am I? Whose words did I use, I wonder? My son’s? I’d heard a sorry earful the time he broke his leg in high school and the doctor set the bone without using anesthesia. Or did I use the long forgotten language of my mother stuck in traffic on the LIE?

Flummoxed, I then had to wonder: what else did I not know about myself?

“Right after the procedure you wanted me to take your photograph,” my friend said. I winced at the photos of me sitting up, wrapped in the hospital gown and blankets, silly and shameless.

No. I definitely don’t know her.