Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Red Lipstick

When I was in college, I had a particularly difficult class with a particularly difficult professor. The only way to write a paper that would pass would be to write the paper that he would have written. In other words, I had to read his mind, which was nearly impossible as I am not someone who enjoys spending large quantities of time with lab rats. I did spend many hours sitting outside his office waiting to review papers before I turned them in. I spent hours inside his office while he scribbled red marks all over what I had already painstakingly written. Only to repeat the process.

The weeks spent in that class resulted in a few nightmares. It was my waking life, however, that became really bizarre. Any time that I couldn't get past a paragraph or a sentence for any paper I was writing for this class, I would go clean something. The bathroom I shared. Another roommate's dishes. The kitchen sink. My closest. Myself. I was taking up to three showers a day that I didn't need. My roommates loved me. My developing OCD would have frightened me had I been able to take a step back and see how crazy I looked from the outside. Instead, I was tunnel-visioned and head-down until the class was over and I was able to return to a state of normalcy.

The recent experiences with D and her (fucking) depression have brought some of that back. I don't have the energy to scrub my toilet four times a day, but I have made the effort to return to my former Self. The Self I was before I was aware of my own depression and before I lost myself in the Bad Relationship. This Self paid bills on time (with less money than I have now), made and cooked weekly menus with groceries bought specifically for that purpose, and generally had her shit together. She even invited other small children over to bake and decorate cookies, something this current Self would run shrieking from.

I still am not about to invite small children mess into my home, but I have started picking my clothes up off the floor more than bi-monthly. I washed sheets and put them back on my bed in the same day. I planned a week of meals and bought the necessary groceries. On a Sunday no less, instead of lying on the couch alternating between napping and watching other people cook on Chopped.

Finally, in order to complete the transformation of this New Self, I made a small purchase. The Old Self, while she had her shit together, did not pay much attention to her own appearance. She went days without putting on a spot of makeup. She expunged most semblances of femininity in favor of raising a daughter who valued her internal worth over her outward appearance. (Which, by the way, was completely futile as my offspring has always been the girliest girl she could ever be.)

My New Self, as she grows older, embraces her femininity. Her shoe collection alone can attest to this fact. She understands that she can be both strong and fallible whether she's wearing a dress and heels or going out as Plain Jane. She's a woman and she enjoys it.

To that end, I attended a lipstick party over the weekend with the sole intention of finding the perfect shade of Red Lipstick. I've tried to wear red before, because I think it's powerful and sexy, but never quite thought I could pull it off. Any red I attempted I immediately covered up with lip gloss to tame it down, silly it up, dilute the power, erase the real woman I wanted to be.

Don't misunderstand; I don't think that Real Women are defined by something as superficial and trivial as their lipstick. Or their hairstyle. Or their professions, their relationships, or their parental status. For me, this is my symbol of the woman I want to be. Put together. Strong. Capable. It's my new cape, the symbol of the hero I want to be for my daughter and for myself. It's smaller than a breadbox and will melt in the sun, but it represents more to me than just a stick of what is, essentially, colored wax.

My red lipstick is the detail that reminds me to pay attention to the details. It's the personal touch that tells the world I'm ready. And, more importantly, that I got this.


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