I seem to have misplaced my eyebrows.
I feel like I have never been appreciative enough of those little babies and their northern placement directly above my eyeballs. Like many of my friends, I stopped looking in the mirror after my 50th birthday. I became quite good at applying mascara, without poking my eyes out, and brandishing lipstick around like a Maestro uses his baton, all the while holding a compact mirror at arm’s length.
Pre Covid Captivity, seeing people in my office, I did not have to look at my own face. However, now I have to peer into this little square box that has my neck, with turkey jowls, wrinkles on my face, and the seeming disappearance of my eyebrows. Before, when I had darker more defined eyebrows, they broke the monotony of my large forehead, but now this bare expanse of skin moves directly toward the greying locks of my un-highlighted hair, seemingly, another indignity. It makes me think “Mom, how in the world did you get into my computer screen?”
Do you ever think that all of a sudden you have become your mother?
I had a number of Zoom sessions in a row the other day. In the first session I had noticed that I had lost my eyebrows, and no amount of peering into the computer screen could help me determine where they were. After the session was over, I ran into the bathroom and turned on the lights and to my horror I could see snowy white hair, not even grey, above my eyes.
I have never had an eyebrow pencil before, so I decided before my next session to quickly use my mascara wand and apply it directly onto the white hair. Artistic design is not my forte, so I looked ridiculous with these jet-black straight lines with nary a shape to them. Figuring that wouldn’t do for my next Boomer on Zoomer session, I wiped the mascara off with hand sanitizer, the closest product at hand. By the way how are your hands doing with all this washing and sanitation process? Mine look like turkey claws with leathery bumps, and feel like they would do a better job sanding wood than the old sander lying idol in the garage waiting for our wonderful Jack-of-all trades Rick, to return to work.
The session started off well enough until the person I was speaking with kept leaning in closer to the screen, and seemed about to fall off the chair. I asked if there was something wrong with the connection, which he denied, but said that he felt compelled to tell me that it looked as if I had been using a charcoal briquette to apply my makeup that day. Apparently, my eyesight is failing as well, and if this Covid continues much longer I will need a stronger prescription for my eyeglasses.
Speaking of zooming in close, I am here to report that I am more often than not figuring out this little wonder of technology, ZOOM. I continue to experience some technical challenges, but they are few compared to the psychological trauma I am experiencing having to look at myself, for 60 minutes at a time. This constant self-evaluation reminds me of graduate school, where for hours on end we had to sit and work with clients and have professors behind the one-way training mirror, watching and critiquing our every move. It was exhausting! Now, I am both professor and therapist peering at myself in the little box, yet trying to pay complete attention to the person in front of me. I am sorry to report that I am dwelling on the fact that I am developing a moustache, probably a beard, I have lost my eyebrows and my hair is turning grey.
If you have had kids go to college or university you may have heard of the Freshman 15 (lbs)? Along with all of the above changes I am now well aware of, I am also working on the Covid 19 (lbs), due to the baking and fresh bread being constructed in my kitchen.
A friend of mine, Sandra, ordered a dog grooming kit from Amazon and had it delivered to her door step. She got working on her pooch, channeling her inner hair stylist ability and made some great gains making Bella feel better about herself, as she is the great Poochini and needs to present a well-groomed self to her adoring fans. Sandra said that perhaps she was getting a bit too relaxed living in isolation, as she found herself moving directly from her dog to her own hair, without so much as a dip into peroxide to clean the scissors. Her family feels the front doesn’t look too bad, but the back of her head leaves a bit to be desired.
While I am Zooming, I am looking at the external representation of me, but because of the pandemic and the resulting collective common humanity experience, I am much more aware of the internal parts of myself knocking at my door louder and louder, as each week of social distancing goes on. And why wouldn’t they? We are stuck with ourselves and perhaps a few loved ones, but without the normal distractions and crazy pace of living I and many others typically run our lives.
To just be and to accept oneself in the moment for all the goodness and the imperfections, is truly a gift. As the great Pandemic Pause continues, I find there are fewer ways to get away from me and perhaps concerns like aging, death, and other existential angst. Anyone else out there feeling that way too?
We need to be gentle with ourselves. People who have had trauma and anxiety in the past are going to be activated in these strange times, even if you have worked through prior challenges. People who have not had trauma or much anxiety are going to experience internal change. Talk to someone, get support, but most importantly have self-compassion. We are all a cast of characters, made up of many parts that complete the whole self. Be kind to the parts. Be curious about the parts. Reach inside and reassure the more vulnerable parts of yourself that it is going to be OK, we will get through this and normalcy will return. Take this opportunity to get to know your parts, in this great time of deep reflection.