I’d been trying to make something pretty from something ugly all day. In the middle of the night a window fan fell out of the window and straight into my face. Startling me awake and leaving me writhing in pain wondering what had just happened and going immediately into triage mode. I googled “how to tell if you have a concussion” with the first symptom being fatigue and disorientation. Well I was tired and confused but perhaps that was due to the trauma itself and the hour of day, it was roughly 4am. I anxiously stayed awake for an hour then decided it was safe to go to sleep, when I woke up again and walked into my bathroom I was greeted by a version of me who looked physically like I’d felt for some months now: battered.
I am careful about that particular word as I do not mean to make like of domestic violence. Only it is the best word to describe how I’ve been feeling. I jokingly said to a friend, “2015 has broken me down. Am I being punished for something?” We laughed but there was a lot a truth in my rhetoric. Am I?
Rotating ice on and off my face while binge watching Gilmore Girls, I got up to notice the bruising was spreading like a rash across my face. Tender to the touch I knew I would not be concealing or blending anything for a few days. Until I healed everyone would just know that I was hurt.
Later on facing myself again I was trying to snap a picture to send to a friend of mine. I hated them all. Each photo that showed the bruise well was unflattering and when I tried to “look effortlessly pretty” all bare faced and hair up, you couldn’t see the bruising as well. But I saw it. Each time k looked in the mirror it’s the first thing that called my eyes attention. This purple and black badge of bad timing and ill-fated circumstance was a lighthouse on my face. And in that moment I said to myself
You have a choice. You can capture the pretty or you can capture the truth, but you can’t have both.
I almost immediately started to cry. I tried to shut my eyes to stop the tears from falling but that only hurt my face more, so I had no choice but to simply cry and to BE as battered, as ugly as I felt. And even though I snapped a picture of the truth I still hate it. I wanted to edit it or remove a blemish, fix the lighting, see if it looked better with my hair up versus down and on and on and on. I was doing it again.
Fact of the matter is, pretty isn’t always the truth and the truth isn’t always pretty. But there is something radiant about capturing a thing as authentically as you can. Pretty or any synonym thereof is not the only thing of value, I had to remind myself. Let go of what you think it looks like and just tell the truth.
The real truth.
I spoke with a friend of mine from high school recently and we discussed the guise of social media and how happy everyone seems to be. We revealed to one another our own ugly truths and found comfort in knowing we were not alone. Truth is not always convienent or kind or crafted and tactful. Truth is not always clean and orderly, socially just and insightful. Truth is. It just is and anything else is our stuff that we add to it. It is ugly or beautiful at our whim. A blessing or a curse with just a declaration, truth is like oxygen. We can’t live without it even though we can’t put our arms around it or kiss it goodnight. Nevertheless it’s there or we would not be.
So I stopped trying to make myself be something I wasn’t in the moment. Now wasn’t the time for pretty. Now was the time for real. And I asked myself to consider that real had its own beauty and its own value much different from pretty. And I obliged myself. Smiling at my decision I winced again from the pain. Oh yes, I remembered now, I was hurting. And here I had forgotten, in the midst of the True True…