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3.30.2011

Facing the devil in the mirror

A twist of fate has surprisingly brought my own self doubt and bullied treatment as a child to the forefront of my life. I learned today that I have a cancer on my upper lip. Nothing really new about that. I've had several skin lesions removed from my face, some serious, most just unsightly, because I spent my childhood on the beach with no such thing as sunscreen. What makes this different is that the doctor said it will need minor surgery which will require shaving off my moustache.

I've worn this fur on my lip ever since my face could create it. I've shaved the chin and sides in a variety of ways over the years but never touched the 'stash. Why? To cover my puffy and disfigured cleft lip. Doing this now will expose something I've not had to show since I was 21. It is amazing the emotions this dredges up that I thought didn't even exist anymore. I can talk about it freely and dissect the problems a cleft lip has caused me in childhood, but actually baring it to the air is a whole other thing.

At the age of 14 I admitted to my mother I wanted to grow a moustache. For some reason she didn't connect the dots and thought this was the funniest thing. To my horror she repeated this "amusing" story for years to everyone, drawing attention to my ugly shame each and every time. So here I am in my fifties, feeling like that kid, a fresh humiliation waiting for me.
Of course, I know that's not going to happen. My family and friends wouldn't even think it. Neither did my mother, which is why she thought it funny. But the mistreated kid on the playground, the lopsided face in the mirror, the ultra shy boy who couldn't make friends lurks under a not so thick matte of lip hair.

Unfortunately, this noma is probably mela and needs to be excised so I must face a demon worse than cancer to remove it. It is truly amazing what lies buried in our deep past waiting to bite us if we're not prepared. In the end, this won't be that big a deal but it illustrates just how connected we remain to past life, fears and anxieties.

Do we ever really survive childhood or are we all destined to play grown up while our feet never quite reach the floor under the table?