The summer between 8th and 9th grade I got a nose job. Yes, the deviated septum prevented me from breathing well—I sounded pug-ish— and that needed fixing. But did I need the slight cosmetic fix, too? I inherited an undesirable “rhombus tip” that the surgeon suggested to my mom could (should) be made into a nicer, more rounded tip. Insurance was already paying for the surgery, why not milk them for a prettier face while we’re at it?
But my friends will still know it’s me, right? You’re not going to make me look too different, right? You’re sure they won’t be able to tell?
Southern California is a hard place to learn about worth and body types, but that’s where my education took place. The classroom, my home, was one that normalized pre and extra-marital affairs. My parents have seven divorces between the two of them. Sex equaled power, and back-up plans were a must—don’t ever be alone.
So naturally, when I entered adulthood, I carried these layers & wounds with me. They ruined parts of my heart. They could’ve (should’ve) ruined my marriage. To put it simply, I wanted to be wanted. We all do, but mine goes a little deeper.
I am the product of an affair.
My mom ached for a baby, and I know the man I call Daddy wanted a daughter, too. Just not another man’s daughter, maybe? From my very conception unwanted-ness tinted all that was Claire; a permeable wall kept me away from unconditional love. My family loved and cared for me, but in a light, drizzly way, that never seemed to soak into the dry, aching desert inside. I don’t fault them for this, we’re all just wounded, not wicked.
My birthday reminded me of existence ripped apart. December, 31 1987, a day that lives in infamy: On this day, nine months ago, Claire was conceived in less-that-ideal circumstances.
“Want me!” I’d yell from street corners and through telephone wires and in beds of men who hurt me. I’ll do whatever it takes, I’ll style my hair the way you like it. I’ll stay tan. I’ll wear this and that. I’ll go to church. I’ll be everything you need me to be. Just keep looking. And please don’t leave.
If only I had known. Worth and value were already knit into my being. The wall I believed separated me from love never really existed.
I love my nose now. It is a beautiful, sculpted signature of the surgeon who put it there and it makes my face look good. The thing is, I’m not sure I didn’t love it before. God approved of it, S/He even called it good. Why didn’t my parents or that surgeon? That rhombus tip certainly didn’t detract from my value; it didn’t make me less love-able.
Which begs the question, would getting a more symmetrical, prettier nose add to my value? Who tells a teenage girl to surgically enhance herself? That’s throwing gasoline, hairspray, and fireworks onto the preexisting firestorm of female, teenage body issues.
I would tell my children the exact opposite. Sweet things, God looks at the inside. You are wonderfully made. Death lasers would sear any surgeon who suggested Lucy’s rhombus tip could (should) be modified. No, I think I would have found a different surgeon.
What layers and wounds were tacked onto you? What identities, fears, and back-up plans did you accept from those who shaped you? How hard do you have to work to maintain it all? How exhausted are you? Is there a date you dread every year because of the shame it heaps back onto you? Are there several dates? Many?
It’s okay— me too.
You, reader, you are wanted. You are a beloved and prized lamb of the most Loving Shepherd. It doesn’t matter how fat or thin you are. It doesn’t matter if you’re tan or not, or how much money you save, donate, or spend on earrings.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a bastard, adopted, or abandoned. God sure as hell doesn’t recoil at the thought of rhombus nose tips, blotchy skin conditions, lackluster hair, and stretch marks. Though S/He doesn’t prefer (or mind) perfectly sculpted features either.