Friday, November 4, 2011

Nov 4: The Weight of a Line

Looks harmless enough

My dilemma today: should I buy the Groupon Botox deal for 51% off before it expires in a few hours? It's a good deal. Only $59 for ten units, and I really only want to get rid of one line. Just one. Seems like a good price to me and worth it, except for all those reasons other people give for why I shouldn't.

I posed the question on my wall on Facebook, and overwhelmingly my friends voted the idea down. Mostly they said flattering things about my lovely face, but this isn't about vanity. I'm not--I don't think--all that vain. I was never one of the pretty girls. Smart, yes. Even a jock in high school. And I've got tons of empathy, so people like to talk to me. But I've never relied on my good looks for anything; I'm all to aware of the limitations. And it's OK. I'm happy with smart and empathic. The Botox isn't about making myself pretty.

I realize, as a couple of friends pointed out, it's kind of crazy to consider injecting a lethal poison into my face. But any drug is lethal if ingested or injected in lethal doses. It's not like I'm going to eat a jar of spoiled home-canned green beans. I know better than that.

But the potential side effects do cause me to pause. The Groupon offer warns that "Botox may cause serious side effects that can be life threatening, including problems swallowing, speaking, or breathing." I certainly don't need to swallow or talk, but the whole breathing thing should continue indefinitely. I didn't even go to the link that would take me to more side effects. Redheads are notoriously unpredictable when it comes to drugs. Anesthesiologists hate to see us on the surgery table, and I'm their worst nightmare. I almost died when I had back surgery. That anesthesiologist was crying when he came to visit me and apologize after the surgery. Then again, the only side effect might be muscle paralysis between my eyebrows, right where I want it.

And that's the only place I want it. Right between my eyebrows. I have a frown line there, one that gets worse every year. And I don't want it. I call it my cancer line. It first started shortly after LtColEx was diagnosed with cancer. He was diagnosed early in the year, but he didn't undergo surgery for another six months, even though he was only 50 and the cancer was aggressive. But I don't need to tell that story. This is about my frown line.

The frown line started sometime during those months of waiting. I could feel it, like a weight between my eyes that got heavier and heavier. A close friend even pointed it out. "You've got a frown line that you didn't have before LtColEx was diagnosed with cancer," he said. I already knew though; I'd noticed it. He just corroborated that other people could see it there too. My worry. My terror. The weight of holding everything together, pretending everything would be fine .... when I knew the man I'd been married to since I was 18 could really die--and not as a hero. I'd lived for years knowing he might die in a plane crash or by a terrorist's bullet, but this was a new enemy, one even more unpredictable than pilot error or war. His cancer earned its own special place right on my face.

I wish it had gone away after the doctor cut out his cancer, but it didn't. It grew deeper through the years of our bitter divorce and since. And when I'm worried or sad or heartbroken, it feels like a boulder sitting there between my eyes. It feels like something I should be able to let go of, to relax, to let become smooth ..... but I can't. It doesn't matter how much yoga I do or meditation or thinking happy rainbow affirmations or even how much cheap boxed wine I drink, it sits there, dug in between my eyes. That fucking line.

So I want to get one little injection of Botox there to make that line smooth out. I don't care if it only lasts four months. I think if it would just smooth out for a little while, maybe it wouldn't come back. Maybe I'd learn to let go. Maybe I'd be free of weight of the cancer and then the divorce and every other worry or sadness that has contributed to the deepening of that stupid fucking line.

My son Drake's girlfriend, Montana, said it's part of my face, part of what makes me look like me. Drake just said "no."  Elvira just says I'm crazy. She's not the only one. One friend said to "claim that line as a badge of honor." One of my sisters from Octette Bridge Club wrote, "I'm thinking the old threat our mothers made 'Don't make that face or it could freeze like that.'"

And that's the whole point. I want to refreeze my face, don't I? I don't want a badge of honor for having weathered cancer and a long, bitter divorce and several other heartbreaks since. What's wrong with wanting to get rid of the physical effects? It's OK to heal from the emotional trauma, right?

And yet, a friend who is a rolfer said she has clients who have done it and they've lost the expressiveness of their faces. And she said, "while their foreheads are smooth, their hearts are unchanged. Doesn't solve." Their hearts are unchanged.

I guess, just like the poem I wrote last night, I really do want to change not only my face, but my heart. I don't want to feel the weight of that line between my eyes. I don't want it there. I don't want it on my face, where everybody can see it.

But it's there. And for now, I've been talked out of the Botox. I'll probably let the Groupon offer expire. But it's only peer pressure and the fear that I'd stop breathing. Otherwise, I'd rather give up the ability to frown than look in the mirror and see that ugly fucking line one more time. I still want it gone.


  1. ((Carol)) You can think of your face the way I think of it, pre-line, because it's been so dang long since I've seen you. If you had that line back when I saw you regularly, I never noticed it.

  2. Hi, Amy. It might have been an imaginary line back the. It's there now though. :-)

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  4. What is this relax you speak of? I don't think I know that word.

    Cookie? I used to know that word....

  5. I'm glad you've decided not to for now. People's faces get weird when they do Boxtox.

    There are a jillion muscles in our faces and they connect to our brains and there's all kinds of new research about how our facial muscles being connected to our brains can alter mood and send all kinds of signals out.

    I think I understand how you're feeling about That Line and I sympathize. Do you know for sure that Botox would indeed make it begone?

    Me, I've got a ring of itchy rash on the back of my neck. Real itchy. The first time it appeared was literally overnight when I had to spend the night with my demented mother in assisted living. Now it comes back with any stress. I hate it, too.

  6. Wouldn't you get rid of the rash if you could, 'Zann? You would, right?

    I know the Botox would work because I googled Botox images. I teach research, you know! I don't know that it would work really, but I do think I would feel relieved not to feel those muscles there, making that line.

  7. So I guess I'll be the friend who goes on a different path. Surprise, surprise, right?

    I say do it. You want it gone. Bazillions of people do it and don't stop breathing. That's a side effect for most meds anyway.

    It's a badge you don't want to wear, and I say you don't have to. See what it feels like to have it gone for 4 months. Maybe you'll find that boulder feeling is still there and wasn't the line at all. Or maybe it is. And you'll get a little reprieve.

    I only know your face from pictures and *I* don't see it. You're beautiful. Your heart comes through. And we all age. We all get a little weathered. ;) I colored my almost totally salt and pepper hair this past summer and I'm pretty happy with it. I wan't trying to avoid aging. I just did it because Alyssa's in Cosmetology school! lol

    But it's not about me. Or about peer pressure. Do what you want. Your friends will love you no matter what - boulder-line or not.

  8. I completely understand how you feel. I went through a time of major stress that caused me to have Bell's Palsy which paralyzed half of my face. It paralyzed my face with one eye open! Damn it all, why couldn't it have paralyzed my eye shut! Needless to say, this really messed with my head and completely screwed up my days. Fortunately it only lasted for six weeks the first time and only a couple of days at a time since. Whenever I find myself getting really stressed I can feel that side of my face starting to tighten up. If I could have gotten a shot of something that would have relieved my condition I would have done it,not for the physical relief but for the mental relief.

    If you feel that this is something you need to do then I say do it but be prepared to accept the possible side effects. Maybe having it filled in would be a more permanent fix and with very little possible side effects?

  9. Thanks for the other perspective, Sue. My daughter, Elvira, changed her mind after she read this post. She says go for it too now. I missed the Groupon though, so I'll have to wait for another cheap shot if I decide to do it.

    I started coloring my hair when I started to go gray because I hated being a redhead as a child and I wanted to own it as an adult. Oh, and I was also in grad school and knew I'd be competing with much younger people in the job market.

    Otherwise, I'd rather be who am now than who I was when I was younger. I've got more energy and fewer fears. And that damn line.

  10. Vapor, that sounds pretty excruciating, especially having your eye open all the time. Glad it was temporary.

    And I also think I know how you felt; it's like losing your face. I fell face-first into the hearth about a dozen years ago and busted my face up. It took a year and a half before I was fixed up. I hated to smile, didn't want to open my mouth. I didn't realize how often I laughed until I didn't want to any more. If I could have gotten a shot for that, I wouldn't have thought twice about it.

    Maybe I shouldn't have told anybody about the Botox and maybe nobody would have noticed.

  11. My thought? It's your body and your choice. You need to do what you need to do to own your body, including the physical and emotional scars. Something can only be a "badge of honor" if you view it as such. It's your choice.

  12. Elvira and the Diplomat have both changed their minds about it. But you're right, AutoD. I'm the only one who can decide.