It’s been a week since I banged my eye socket into the corner of my nightstand, and the resulting black eye is still going strong. I wake up every morning hoping that my “shiner” has finally begun to fade, but one look in the mirror tells me that it’s actually looking worse with each passing day. (Or as my husband so eloquently put it when he checked out my eye this morning, “Oh, my God!”) It’s not nearly as sore, and the area immediately underneath my eyebrow is fading to a sickly yellow, but the eyelid itself is still a stunning reddish-purple, with bruises at each corner. And the dark purple color is steadily spreading underneath my eye, giving me the mother of all eye bags.
Right after the accident, I could hide the worst of the damage with carefully applied make up, but that’s not working anymore. Unless I’m wearing oversized sunglasses, my black eye is on display for everyone to see. Some people ask what happened, others maintain a tactful silence, but everyone who sees me can’t help but notice it.
At first, I was very self-conscious about my black eye, and hesitated to go out in public. But I soon realized that I had only two options: stay home and hide until the colors faded away, or just go on and live my life, even if I did have an ugly, swollen eye. I choose to go about my normal life, and learned a few things in the process.
I have always tried hard to look my best. I dye my hair, put on make up, and try to wear clothes that are at least somewhat flattering. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with any of that. But having a black eye made me realize that no amount of effort was going to make me actually look good. And I was surprised to realize that I didn’t really care about that nearly as much as I thought I would. Once I got used to the idea, I really had no problem just heading out into the world, scary-looking eye and all.
It was actually rather liberating. I stopped worrying about my outfits when I was getting ready to go out, and stopped getting annoyed when my hair insisted on choosing it’s own style, as it so often does. I still applied make up, but if I messed it up a little, I didn’t take it off and start again. For the first time in a long time, I felt very comfortable in my own skin, with no need to hide the flaws. And I think that is a very good thing.
The irony is that I have always been most attracted to people who are genuine, and who are just as willing to acknowledge their flaws as they are their strengths. And I have worked hard at trying to live my own life as honestly as I possibly can, putting my real self out there, emotionally and intellectually. But it took getting a black eye to make me realize that it’s perfectly okay to let people see my physical flaws as well.
So this past week has actually been good for me. It reminded me that I don’t always have to put my best foot (or face) forward, and that my appearance is such a small part of who I really am. I’m not saying I’m glad I got the black eye, but I really believe the lesson it taught me was worth it.