In our contemporary society, cosmetic tweaking is increasingly commonplace.  Today, it is my desire to share with my readers, my views on the topic.

When I was a little girl, I remember my maternal grandmother pinching my cheeks to make them rosy.  “You are so pale,” she would say.  She cautioned me about calling her Grandma when we would go downtown.  She was an extremely vain woman, who used various contraptions and creams available at the time, to hold up her sagging neck, and stiff corsets to hold in her relaxed tummy.  She would have given anything to have had a face lift!

She was the baby of her family and suffered a “nervous breakdown,” at around ten.  She attended school until perhaps grade six, then worked in a cotton mill in western Massachusetts.  She kept an immaculate house, and loved the car that she never learned to drive.  There are so many photos of her standing proudly next to a sleek, shiny car.

My grandmother was able to love me in ways that she could not love my mother.  Mom suffered greatly, having been raised by a cold, apparently unfeeling, critical mother.

My mother was a beautiful woman, with her own share of mental problems.  Growing up in a violent home, with parents who had married at 16, she suffered greatly.  And she generously shared her mental anguish with my father and me.

My father was ‘movie star handsome’ and mother fell in love with this outer persona, and dad reciprocated, in kind.  The way one presented themselves to the world outside the walls of our home was the primary value I was exposed to in my young life.  I know I have written about this before, because it is at the core of who I am.  Growing beyond that superficial value has been a lifelong pursuit for me.

THE most important thing was being cute.  Dressing well, having impeccably pressed and designed clothing was imperative.  When very very young, I had this message indelibly written on my brain, and that message, that value, kept me from succeeding in more important arenas for many years.

Wounded souls love the study of psychology and I couldn’t get enough of it!  When I left home at 18 to get married, I had all the time I needed to enjoy learning why people behaved in ways that were hurtful to themselves and others.

That learning helped me to understand myself, and my choices up to that point in my life.  I learned how to be the kind of mother we all deserve, but few of us really know.  I committed myself to being that ‘perfect’ mother.  And, as we all know, that is impossible.

And over all this time, the primary value I was raised with was my constant companion.  I feared that if I didn’t look perfect when my husband returned from work that he would stop loving me.  And so, even during those years that I was a ‘stay at home’ mom, I was fully coiffed, make-up perfect, wearing a cute outfit to greet my husband, every single day. 

The house was immaculate, the meal was delicious, children looked adorable, clean and well mannered, and all appeared so lovely, on the surface.  So although I knew better, by my mid-twenties, I followed the same prescription for a happy life.  Pursue perfection, look attractive at all times, and by all means, be appropriate.

Fast forward to my forties.  Divorced, attending college, searching for more meaning in my life, I found alternative pursuits that fed my hunger for learning.  I began to change.  My scope broadened, and my value system grew to include a great love of personal growth.  Enhancing my self-esteem, now included my working with kids that had disabilities, and their families.  The joy I developed through succeeding in this important work was incredibly gratifying.

Still, and in ways, more so, I maintained my obsession with looking attractive.  I began to work on my aging body, jogging, cycling, exercising at studios.  At the time, Retin A was a popular cream designed for treating acne that had a side effect of recucing wrinkles.  I used it faithfully.  Collagen implanting in the nasal labial folds was another current method of eliminating wrinkles.  I had that for a few consistent years until it backfired; I became allergic!

Even later, as my values grew ever wider and my interests broader, aging became difficult with the accompanying loss of attractiveness.  I remained fit, but noticed every new line and imperfection with dread.

In my sixties, I had a face lift.  They called it a “mini,” because it didn’t include the forehead or neck.  I loved the results!  Society had grown to value youth and a youthful appearance to the extent that this procedure was becoming extremely popular.  In the world of work, one had to compete with a younger, brighter, technologically astute generation, often using Retin A and botox, in their twenties!

Maintaining the youthful look I achieved from the mini lift was vitally important, so I had Botox and Restylane, a wrinkle filler.  I had these administered by highly trained and skilled physicians, so the look was very natural.  I felt geat!

And, Dear Readers, you know “the rest of the story.”  Now, I have ALS, a term I swore I would never use to describe my illness.  I hoped that if I could avoid saying it, it would not be so……

You will be surprised, I believe, at this point, to hear me say that I don’t regret a single one of these procedures!  In fact, I am so grateful that I had the means to do it and the intelligence to select only the best practicioners.  Yes, I have grown in innumerable ways throughout my lifetime.  I believe that along the way, I made a difference, but I never lost that underlying desire to present myself well.

Even now, I give it my best shot, most of the time.  The irony is that the mask I must wear in order to use the bi-pap, leaves big grooves in my cheeks, and the straps that hold it in place, does crazy things to my hair!  The grooves that were once filled with Restalyene now look deeper than ever, as if I never had an ounce of work done!  They fade by the hour, thank goodness.  But, I am caring less and less with each passing day.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to style my hair.  When it is too difficult, I pop on my Jane Fonda looking wig, apply a bit of make-up, and I’m good to go!

My focus has changed in so many ways, as you know.  But, I must emphasize, feeding my need to look attractive is something that I do not regret.  If I hadn’t broadened my scope and just focused on that, I am sure that I would have many regrets at this point.  But, I remember well how wonderfully I felt after each little cosmetic tweak, and I smile.

My husband has seen me in every possible way.  Looking my best, and, God knows, at my very worst.  And he loves me more than I could ever have hoped to be loved in this life.  And THAT, Dear Readers, is the happy ending of this story.