So a weird thing happened, in a series of weird things happening, that led to the weirdest thing of all.
At the beginning of December, I got sick with a stomach bug that had me so nauseous and dehydrated, I ended up face planting into my bathroom garbage can and wedging my front tooth into my bottom lip. I came to on the tile floor, side of my face rising into a black eye and blood all over my chin and neck, like UFC Dracula. I was shocked and shaken, as was my husband, who was terrified I was going to die in my sleep and thus spend the rest of his life in jail because he’s seen The Staircase and “just look at the evidence!!!”
I woke up looking mangled with a full week of events to tackle or cancel, depending on how honest I felt like being. Because the truth was I felt embarrassed, like I’d done something wrong. Like I should’ve taken better care of myself or something. And frankly, I was a little scared, because fainting does that to a person. It makes you lose trust in your own body, like you could go down at any minute with no warning. I felt like an old grandma, feeble and tentative, gripping the railing walking down the stairs and stepping off icy curbs extra carefully. I knew it could’ve been worse, which is also scary, because what if worse happens next time? My face is my livelihood, ridiculous as it is to say, and I literally can’t afford to bust it up. And I was busted.
There were a handful of people I came clean with, mostly my closest friends who are accustomed to talking me off the ledge and comforting me in my times of high drama (which is often. I can’t help it, it’s what I do for a living, okay??). I had to tell a couple of parents at my son’s school because I was scheduled to serve hot lunch on the Friday and I couldn’t leave them in the lurch. By that time my mouth wound had closed up and swollen into a purple scab, like the cold sore from hell, prompting my son to plead with me to “please wear a mask, because: gross”. I wore makeup on my bruised eye as it turned lizard green and dished up chicken fingers to the kids, smiling so damn hard my lip split again.
Most of it healed eventually of course, except for a lump of scar tissue that remains on my lower lip, a hard little pebble of humiliation that reminds me just how dependant on my stupid face I really am, and how fragile 12 hours of a stomach flu can make you. It’s rendered me a little self-conscious when I talk, utterly convinced that everyone is staring at it, wondering what the hell I’ve done to myself. “She looks different. Is it bad filler? Did she get hit? Did she faceplant into a garbage can and isn’t telling anyone about it? And if so, why not?”
After the last month and a half spent like this, I decided the only way to get over it was to move through it, and that required honesty and less shame. After all, I’m a pretty open book normally, in my personal life and on social media, which is kind of a part of my personal life at this point. Maybe if everybody was just in on it, all at once, I wouldn’t have to keep having the same conversation and reliving that crazy night over and over again. This of course was a risky move on my part, mostly. because– I don’t know if you know this– people on the internet can be assholes. But I was willing to take the risk if it meant moving on.
So I made a video and posted it. And the weirdest thing? People were kind. Compassionate. Even supportive. I couldn’t believe it. Strangers in solidarity shared their own stories of slamming their faces into things, home remedies they’d used, advice they were given that did and didn’t work. Some people said they just lived with the scar, because “scars make us interesting”. Friends in the industry reached out to me privately, stunt performers who get smacked in the face all the time, with amazing tips and tricks and stories that made me laugh and realize how silly I was being. Because honestly who gives a shit? Things happen. Much worse things, sometimes. Life, if you’re lucky, goes on.
Sure, transparency can bite you in the butt sometimes, and it’s not always the wisest thing to share every little secret (Harry, honey, I’m talking to you). But this time, it made me feel grateful that technology has given us a way to reach out and ask for help when we need it. That mostly people are good and kind. It felt like a hug from thousands of strangers, all at once. And this is coming from someone who’s not a hugger! unless I’ve gotten into the tequila.
So thank you for that. Shame sucks. I’m glad I told it to shut up.
And hopefully I can return the favour sometime.
16 Comments Add yours
I wish you peace and love. You have given me such joy. The face you have at 20 is the gift of your parents. The face you have at 50 is a reflection of your soul.
Happy to hear you were met with kindness and that you’re doing well.
I had a very similar experience Nov 2020. Hard pebble. Fear of judgement. Scared husband. Tetanus shot. Got to hide behind zoom and a mask for 2 months until I healed enough to hide in lipstick. Consulted my surgeon. Decided I needed to keep the reminder as a yield sign.
In middle school I went on a field trip to tour a local hospital, the same hospital my dad had spent a month in three years earlier following a car accident.
We were in the ER (first stop for my group) and my dad and the doctor were talking about his experience. Well, next thing I know I’m waking up on the floor, my wrist hurting and watch in pieces.
They got me up on the bed and hooked dup to the machines they’d previously demonstrated on three of my classmates.
Everyone thought it was the bad memori of my dad being in the hospital. Nope, I was just an idiot and locked my knees.
I did get a free soda and a print out of my heart rate, but missed the rest of the tour.
Weird stuff happens all the time. It’s just part of life. I once had to have surgery on my thumb because a student broke a beaker and while I cleaned it up, I got a shard in my thumb. Left it for over a year until I was so mad at it I had the shard taken out. Less than two years later I did the exact same thing. And I got another shard of glass in my thumb in the SAME SPOT. I leave it as a reminder to me to STOP PICKING UP GLASS WITH MY BARE HANDS all while saying, “Don’t touch the glass kids! You might get cut!” Lol
Oh man, I had someone (accidentally) hit me in the face with a cricket bat when I was 7, it broke the top half of my bottom two front teeth clean off. One half went THROUGH my lip (I still have the scar today) and the other lodged itself in my lip and came out when I was going to bed like two nights later. Thankfully the cricket bat was plastic and not a real wood one because hoooo boy would that have done a lot more damage. 😬
A little memento mori now and then is quite useful. 🙂
*sends virtual tequila and hugs*
I’ve fainted twice, it was lucky I fell where I did or I’d be dead. No more luck left after that.
A friend fainted while driving and went straight into a post office. Thank God it wasn’t pension day. He is a pilot so it could have been worse. The aviation doctor who performed loads of tests said most people will faint at least once in their lives and we won’t know why.
You’re perfect in your imperfection.
Did you see the picture of Dana Delaney after her fall in early 2022? So sorry for your accident, glad you are better now. You should have had a better story though, like one where you broke up a bar fight between rival biker gangs :).
P.S . A small steroid shot from a good plastic surgeon will shrink the scar tissue in your lip…
I appreciate your insight. I had a numb spot on my lip after a tooth extraction that must have damaged the nerve. It gradually faded over a few years of healing. I work in an industry where my appearance is (or should be ) of little importance, but I was constantly worried that it would affect my smile, or cause me to lisp, or dribble when I drank, even long after I was assured that it had no outward noticeability to people . It caused me much introspection on what I valued, but also gave me a bit of empathy for anybody that might do such things
December was a doozy!! TTFN 2022! Sending all the love and good vibes your way !! Xox
Same thing happened to me a couple years ago. Getting over a virus, and ended up passing out in the bathroom. My face crashed into the door and smashed a hole. Luckily it was one of the cheap hollow core doors or else I probably would have broke my nose. I had been summoned to jury duty a couple days later, I looked like I was in a barfight that I lost. Needless to say, I did not get selected.
Oh it really does suck. I was working on a play in Atlanta years ago and the week of dress I stepped on the rocker of a rocking chair while I was behind it. Wacked myself solidly in the eye with the upper rounded bit of the back of the chair. Black and blue and not nearly enough make up to cover it even on stage. The lights were awful the first few days.
But— you work through it and I am glad you were able to tell shame to “eff” off.
I faceplanted in a street while on holiday in Melbourne some years ago.
My mum and sister were with me, after splitting their sides laughing, they finally asked if I was ok.
Luckily I never smashed my face up, but was I sore the next few days.
Never worked out why I tripped either!
Guess I’m just a falls risk!
I am proud of you for showing up at school and serving lunch and smiling so much you split your lip. You are a wonderful person because you are genuine in real life. You understand that your job is your job and your life is your life and you choose transparency and honesty. You have a strong sense what you must do, no excuses.