When you look in the mirror, who do you see? You’ve lived with your face all your life so you’re pretty familiar with it right? But what do you do when you don’t recognise the face in the mirror?
After I lost my husband, I also lost about 2 stone in weight; it wasn’t that I didn’t eat, I just had no interest in food – it was fuel and nothing more. Consequently I went from a size 12 to a size 8 in a matter of months. Unfortunately, when you reach a certain age (we won’t go into that just now) , losing a lot of weight quickly means that you’re left with a lot of skin that refuses to snap back into place like it did when you were 20. Friends told me that I looked haggard and I know that my family were worried about me so I decided I’d better do something about it. I think that some sort of twisted logic told me that I’d feel better on the inside if I looked better on the outside. I suppose it’s that sort of rationale that has kept the diet and cosmetics industries going for so many years…
Anyway, the first thing I tackled was the fine lines around my mouth – I suppose I could have tried lotions or potions but I decided that dermal fillers were definitely the way to go. It turns out that randomly picking someone to do this off the internet just because you know where their clinic is really isn’t the best idea. The doctor (he was a GP who did this sort of thing in his spare time for some extra cash) talked me into fillers in my cheeks as well which would improve the ‘sagging’.
A couple of hours later I left the clinic with cheekbones you could cut cheese with and a mouth that looked like I’d been attacked with a baseball bat ( I was assured the swelling would go down within a few days). The procedure was extremely painful but I had achieved my aim – I looked different.
In the months that followed I actually made an effort and found a ‘proper’ clinic where a lovely woman called Julie explained that, unless you wanted to look like Daffy Duck it really was better so have fillers in both lips and not just the top one (who knew!). So she sorted out the lip issue, introduced me to botox and generally made my face look as good as it could considering the grief I’d been through and my advancing years.
After I’d got the face sorted, I tackled my wardrobe which was kind of necessary as none of my clothes fitted! I went to a shopping mall with a friend and my credit card; before my husband died I’d always been an avid shopper and I was quite looking forward to the experience. What I hadn’t considered was the masses of people that would be there and I just couldn’t handle it, even the prospect of clothes shopping could get me past the panic attack that I could feel building……..
Eventually I found that I could cope in small shops and so I bought new clothes and I took great pleasure in them for about 2 minutes. I discovered that, as I’d lost so much weight, I could wear knee length or even thigh length designer boots so I bought 3 pairs in one week. Each time I pulled a pair on and they fitted I was delighted, for about 2 minutes…..
I live close to Monaco now and the clothes and shoes and boots that I bought fitted well into my surroundings; I felt that I blended in. The trouble was that, even with my new face and new clothes, I didn’t really feel like me – although the outside had changed, the inside hadn’t.
The breakthrough came when a friend offered to take me out on his motorbike. You have to wear boots, jeans, a leather jacket and a crash helmet at the very minimum to be safe but, on the day in question, it was about 26 degrees and wall to wall sunshine. After about an hour of hurtling through the Alps we pulled over – I was sweaty, my hair was a disaster and my dissolving eye make up had left me looking like a somewhat scruffy panda BUT I was happy! I still didn’t really see me when I looked in the tiny wing mirror on the bike but I did recognise the smile and, at last, the inside matched the outside………..