Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Fat Lip

Preteen girls tend to lack somewhat in the areas of judgement and rational thinking.  That could be why, at the tender age of nine, my friend and I walked her bike up to the top of a very large hill, she jumped on the seat while I positioned my rear on the handle bars......and down, down, down we flew.

Needless to say, within mere moments, I found myself flat on my face on the hard concrete pavement.  The fat lip that ensued lasted more than a week's time.  I refused to go outside.  I refused to go to school.  Heck, I even refused to leave my room.

Of course, as the cliched saying goes, time heals all wounds.   And in fact my lip did, eventually return to normal size.  However, little did I realize how forceful the impact of my "biking accident" was until 37 years after that traumatic event.

Cut to last Friday evening as I made my way home after a long, long week.  Most Fridays usually find me in quite the good mood, excited to leave my work world behind and embrace the relaxing, welcoming, open arms of the weekend.  Not so this time.  If I could use one adjective to describe myself during that short journey home, I'd use the word "exhausted".   The sore throat I had nursed all week had taken its toll, draining my energy and ability to focus.  What's more, incessant pain in my jaw served as a reminder of the recent dental work I had suffered through a few days earlier.   That, coupled with relentless worry about a dear friend going through a tough time, all added up to a burning desire to pour a huge glass of wine, crawl into the bathtub, and escape for a while.

As I steered my car along the well-worn road to home, another minor ailment reared its ugly head, my chapped lips.  With my cherry flavored lip balm therapy safely out of reach inside my pocketbook, which sat on the passenger seat floor, I absentmindedly began picking at my lips until....

OUCH!

I now had a self-inflicted wound to add to my woes.

When I arrived home, I pushed aside the welcoming hug from my husband Bob and 15-year old daughter Melissa, ran to the bathroom and looked in the mirror in terror, afraid of what I might see.  A tiny bit of swelling had already started where I had picked at the skin on my lip, however I convinced myself that nobody would ever notice.  What's more, Bob and Melissa also assured me that the sore spot could barely be seen and I should certainly stop worrying.

Their reassurance, however, did nothing from stopping me from running into the bathroom every ten minutes to watch in horror as my bottom lip swelled to 3,000 times its normal size.   As I emerged from the bathroom nearly in tears, my family could no longer pretend I did not resemble a circus freak....however they assured me the swelling would go down in the morning, and nobody would ever notice.

Later that evening I sat in bed, held an ice pack on my lip, and stared off into space.  Melissa came in and, seeing me in my pathetic state, gave me hug after hug, trying to relieve my depression.  Her support, while appreciated, did nothing to deter my feelings of utter frustration at my own actions.  True, this time around I must admit the fat lip did not come as a result of an attempted acrobatic cycling feat....but still, I felt just as responsible as I did on that fateful autumn day, 37 years ago when I landed flat on my face.

Suddenly, I was no longer a 47 year old working wife and mother.

I was nine years old again, falling off the handle bars, and feeling the punishing pain of stupidity in action.

I was nine years old again, with a grotesque fat lip and feeling like a freak.

I was nine years old again, afraid to come out of my bedroom, full of the insecurities that grip young girls who question their beauty, their value, and their place in the world.

I was nine years old again, longing for normalcy, stability, and love.

As morning dawned, I stumbled out of bed and, with fear in my heart, stole a quick glance in the mirror.  The swelling had, indeed, subsided a bit, at least to the point where lipstick could hide the abnormality (an advantage I lacked at the age of nine).  Both Bob and Melissa lovingly lied, again assuring me they couldn't see it at all.   In fact, by day's end, the lip had nearly returned to some semblance of normalcy.

I relished in the love of my family, who instinctively knew all the right things to say and do to make me feel whole again.  As I emerged from my bedroom, I bid farewell to the nine year old girl who returned to her rightful place, buried in memories.

As for me, I vow to never, ever pick my lips again.........or ride on bicycle handlebars!

I relish your feedback!  If you like my stories, please tell me in the comments below, and follow me on twitter or Facebook.

22 comments:

  1. Ok, so I'm not the only one who does stupid stuff too! Thank you for sharing, and so sorry to hear about the sore throat! I've been going through a nasty throat too - not fun. Feel better!

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  2. Awwww. I feel your pain. I have a knot in my lip, it think its called a keyloid and I spelled that wrong because it has the red squiggly and apparently it is spelled terribly wrong because spellcheck doesn't know what I am talking about. Anyway, its a knot from a busted lip. Only I know that it there. But if I eat something like a peach, pineapple or bite an apple it seems to become visible. To think people do this to themselves on purpose! I was in the seventh grade and I had on some cute church shoes that didn't agree with linoleum - oh good I spelled that right. I fell and busted my lip, blood was on the floor where I went splat. It was embarrassing, and I had to stay at school. :-O

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    1. Hi Kenya, it's funny that I felt so isolated with my fat lip but it seems like it is something that is so common and happens to so many people. Thanks for visiting my blog!!

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  3. I thought this was great, it reminds me of how i feel going though Manapause...lol. I am almost 40 and sometimes i feel like a kid again wanting the same silly things i did in the days way back when.

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    1. Manapause! Love it! Thanks for visiting my blog Scott!

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  4. This is a great post and i love the way you tell it. I can picture everything like i'm there. I hope your lip feels better. I was bothered earlier and while i was thinking i was gnawing at the tip of my finger & now it looks like i ate a piece, gross. I'm stopping by from Voicebok. I hope you and the family had a great weekend and you have a great Monday.

    Nikki

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    1. My family and I had a wonderful weekend and I hope you did too Nikki - thanks for stopping by and visiting my blog!

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  5. Isn't it funny that no matter how accomplished we are or how far we've traveled down the path we've chosen, the shadow of the little girl we once were remains to occasionally peek out and block the sun?
    No matter how big your lip gets, you're still a beautiful woman! *hugs*

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    1. Thanks Chris! I am happy to report my lip is back to normal! At least it made for a great blog post, right!
      Lisa

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  6. We women, in general, are so insecure about our appearance and tie how "loveable" we are so closely to what we look like. I look at the photo at the top of this page in fascination because I can't believe the woman I see standing there with her beautiful family could be so bothered by a sore on her lip. Isn't it apparent to you that you are surrounded with the kind of love that a fat lip is powerless to dent? It's beyond apparent to me. Look at the love in the picture!

    I want to hug you!

    I'm so glad your family showed you that love.

    A couple of years ago, my hair started falling out and I was diagnosed with Androgenetic Alopecia (in lay-man's terms - male pattern baldness). Yes, it's exactly as beautiful as it sounds. I cried bitterly as I held chunks of hair in my hands in the shower and worried about how on earth my husband could possibly find me attractive.

    Know what? He does still. Balding head and all. My children love me the same, too. As do my friends. Turns out my hair matters to only one person - ME. The tears were for nothing. My hair may not be beautiful but my heart didn't change. And THAT'S what the people I love love about me. And that is what the people in your life love about you too. I can guarantee that if your lip swelled to twice its size permanently, your family wouldn't love you any less. So why should you love yourself less? Answer: you shouldn't.

    Thanks for an honest post, Lisa. x
    http://theycallmemummy.com/2012/06/20/you-suck

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    1. And thank you for such a heart felt reply! You are so lucky to have such a loving family!!

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  7. its amazing how fast a single action can make us child like again. Well written had me drawn in right from the moment you hopped on the handle bars!

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  8. I've done that. It's the worst but it's such a hard habit to break!

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  9. I have pulled skin off my chapped lips before. It hurt, but they never swelled up or even changed size. I guess I've been lucky, because I would not have gone out of the house either.

    Stopping by from VoiceBoks!

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    1. Thanks Laura, I just visited your blog too! Great advice about the wallet items!

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  10. Found you via the Bloggy Mom's blog hop. Thanks for sharing your story, and making us all feel a little more human.

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  11. I love this post, Lisa, and how you juxtaposed your present self with the nine-year old inside you. Great story!

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  12. Fabulous story! It's so interesting how we are instantly shot back in time, to a memory we had no idea even affected us. You captured that feeling perfectly. (Seriously, not sure if you saw my reply to your comment, but you should TOTALLY be published. :) BTW, when I was nine, I got in the way of the neighbor kid's golf swing, and... yep - sandwedge right to the eye. I had a black eye for weeks, I had to get nine stitches, and I still have the scar on my face. You're right, nine year old's do not always have the most brilliant ideas!!

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    1. Oh Melissa, you poor thing - that must have been awful! And yes, I did see your reply and thank you, I would love to get published! My New Year's resolution is to try to get published! You are so sweet thank you so much!

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