It’s true. They seriously hate me because I wear make-up. I’m not talking about the shellac on your face, eyeliner, rouge, and mascara kind of make-up. No, I’m talking about the emotional make-up that has almost always made me up. I was one of the teenagers you hear about who has the perfect life, or at least they pretend to have the perfect life. I was rarely seen NOT smiling. My laugh could be heard from one end of the school to the other. I’ll never forget painting my self portrait in school without a smile. I was told that it didn’t look like me because no teeth were showing (NO, I’m not buck-toothed). I painted over my mouth and started from scratch, this time including a big smile with large, white teeth shining through. I don’t know what happened to that painting. I thought it was hideous and flat. I couldn’t seem to make my eyes smile quite as much as my mouth did. But that was my reality. That painting truly captured what I felt inside, not the Summer that I was so keen at portraying.
I was the lead actress in my own life. I began hiding my feelings and wearing emotional make-up when I was still in elementary school. I went through a lot during my childhood but I’ll discuss that at a later date. The fact is that I felt like I had to put on a smiley face for everyone. I wanted my dad to think I was immensely happy at my mom’s house and I didn’t want my mom to know that I was either happy or unhappy at my dad’s house – I wanted her to think I was neutral. I learned quickly how to hide my tears; not an easy thing for a fair skinned blonde girl to do. I look like an albino leopard when I cry. I eventually learned how to hold my tears in and I believe it was at that point that my heart began to harden. Each tear that I refused to release became a brick inside my heart.
It didn’t take long for me to be dubbed “The Ice Princess” by my family. No feeling, no sympathy, no emotion. That wasn’t and ISN’T the case. I feel deeply. Too deeply. I’m passionate but I sometimes feel as though I have to hide it under a bushel basket. I care more about what people think is going on in my life or who I am than being me. The real, authentic me. So I put this make-up on to be who I think people want me to be. I have been guilty of pretending to have the same interests as other people to appease them. I’ve done it with men and I’ve done it with women. And it’s done nothing but cause me heartache, pain, rejection, and loss. It’s caused me to daily apply another layer of make-up.
Sometimes I’m unable to keep the make-up on and my frustrations become very real. I am incapable of being fake with people. If I have something bad to say about or to someone, I don’t usually want to ever be in their company. Why would I talk about someone behind their back and then pretend to their face that I like them? I can’t do it. That make-up melts off in an instant and my painted-on smile resembles the sneer of Chuckie. When I know that I’ve been talked about and am on the receiving end of the gossip, I have a tendency to be downright ugly. I don’t handle gossip or fake people well. But wait…isn’t this entire post about how fake I am?
Dangit. You got me. But here’s the rub: I’m not fake about my passions or my intentions. I’m not fake about whose time I want to share my own with. I’m not fake about my dislikes. My facade is there to protect me. To make people think that I’m happy and that everything is wonderful. It’s the face of a mime that has been painted on since childhood. I find that with each passing year the foundation begins to crack. A little here: Crow’s feet. A little there: Laugh lines. Since my pregnancy with Madilyn, chunks have begun to fall off of my face. The make-up is stale and I can’t fight it anymore. I chose to ignore the degradation of my mask for nearly 16 months. But one day I woke up, looked in the mirror, and didn’t recognize the eyes that stared back at me. They used to be blue but they’re grey now. They had no life left in them. The same eyes who used to look upon an empty canvas with loaded paintbrush in hand with excitement; now dull and slate grey. The same eyes who found an honest joy in life in general; now unexcited by anything. Smile lines had faded and a downcast shadow lie where enlightened crow’s feet once danced. Large chunks of foundation had calved from my face and it wasn’t mine anymore, not that it ever was.
That was 6 weeks ago.
I have since begun the removal of my make-up. I am daily applying make-up remover with a soft cotton ball to eradicate years of daily application. Each day a little more surface area wipes clean. Each day I’m a little more honest with myself and with the people around me. Each day I try to write about something that I’m genuinely passionate about, hoping that with each typed word, a little more of my true self can be revealed. Some days I rub a spot raw and those are the painful days. Then there are days where I work lightly on a new area, softly scrubbing away at the shellac that has become my face.
I appreciate those who have been on this journey with me for years, and those who are just jumping on the roller coaster. I cherish the people who love me unconditionally, even when I say or do something that hits a nerve because they know my heart and know that I am never, ever coming from a bad place.
I can be nothing but honest now. Because the more make-up I choose to put on, the more ugly I become. So I’m stripping down – take me or leave me. What I need now is maturity, honesty, authenticity, and strong people by my side. What I don’t need are more fake people surrounding me, liars, weak minds, and lack of understanding. I am using the people around me to help me grow, no matter what role they play. Instead of applying more make-up when someone lets me down or stabs a knife through my back, I will pull the knife out and use it to aid me in the removal of years of artificial happiness. So again, thank you for being on this journey with me. Thank you for supplying the make-up remover, the soft cotton balls, and the knives. Without each of these tools, I could not continue to purge.
And a huge thanks to Gwen Stefani and No Doubt for writing a song about my life: