I never thought of myself as being conceited. But, I know I am vain. Are they the same thing? It's a topic I've recently begun to explore.
About three (3) months ago I had knee surgery due to a torn meniscus. Nothing out of the ordinary took place either before, during, or after the surgery. According to my surgeon, I was within the normal realm of recovery.
I had expected a certain amount of pain and limitations on walking and other physical activity. What I was not expecting was, literally, losing sleep. From the day of surgery, until only a few weeks ago, I found myself in a constant state of being awake. I had difficulty falling asleep, then it seemed almost impossible to stay asleep. The pain kept me tossing and turning most of the night.. Not one to use any kind of meds on a regular basis, I did take prescribed pain killers, as well as anti - inflammatory over the counter medicine. Still no sleeping for days and then for weeks. I was averaging about three (3) hours a night.....on a good night. My body and mind was not used to that.
So, by now you are wondering what this has to do with vanity. Simply put, I think I started to look wretched. There were dark circles under my eyes, and lines seem to appear out of nowhere. I seemed to have aged overnight and I was not happy about it. My daily routine consisted of multiple trips in front of a mirror, where I would study every crevice that seemed like it would appear as I was looking at my face.
Trying to figure out what to do....who was going to see me, how bad did I look? A few of my friends thought I was nuts, although they did say I look tired. I began combing through old photos for clues to how I should look. Then I began to question why I was becoming so obsessed with my appearance. The truth is I always cared about how I looked. And, for me, and for anyone else, I think it is a good thing. What I don't think is a good thing, was how concerned I was that people who know me, and know me well, would think differently of me...wouldn't like me as much. It's crazy, I know, and probably goes back to some old demons that sometime creep their way into my psyche and cause me to question my self worth.
I was always told I was pretty. I'm not sure I ever believed anyone because I didn't always see whatever people were looking at. Once in my twenties, and I was in Rome, I had been followed by men almost hourly. First by the bellman in our hotel. He would knock on my room door about a minute after I returned to the hotel and asked me to go out with him. I wasn't interested for many reasons and I certainly didn't trust strangers. One morning I was touring with a group of people and we loaded our bus on the way to Florence, this bellman came onto the bus and asked the tour guide to translate a message. He was proposing marriage to me, and I'm thinking I'm in a bad movie. It didn't help that the tour guide, who was originally from Philadelphia told me she met her husband on a trip to Rome, and married him one week later. I kept asking her why was he chasing ME. Her reply was....do you own a mirror? Did I create this mess? Do I long for those days again...when I was blonde, thin, and very young?
Well, I'll take the blonde back, and I'm trying to get thin again, but that twenty-something girl was not together. Sure, I never lacked dates, but, I lacked real intimacy with someone and it has taken me years to find a level of trust in myself, and in others, that real intimacy is even possible.
And, when I look at those old photos, I like how I looked. I did not appreciate it then, and probably spent too much time worrying about my appearance. To a degree, I still do that, but, for different reasons. I know that when I feel good about myself, it shows up in my face. As for the lack of sleep, there was also a great deal of stress involved, not just the knee thing. I'm a work in progress and wouldn't have it any other way.
While I have some "squiggly" around my eyes, when real lines set in, I know I will have earned every one.