I can recall blasting that song in the backseat of my god-mom’s GMC at the tender age of six, sitting with my god-sisters, thinking Shania Twain was just about the coolest person on earth. To feel like a woman – what a cool thing! It seemed so empowering at the time…being a woman meant being independent, having privileges and responsibilities. There would be no rules to follow as a woman…being a woman meant no longer being a child. No authority to listen to, no rules to follow (apparently I didn’t realize that there were these things called “laws” that apply, even as an adult). Putting on lipstick, something I’ve talked about in my blog before (if you missed that post, you can read it here) was a sign of maturity, something that only the cool kids could do. Even to be a teenager…wow. It seemed so many years beyond me then, but it sure snuck up fast. Belting “MAN! I FEEL LIKE A WOMAN!” in the back of the Yukon, my dreams of being a grown-up developed, only to fade away as I actually grew into the role.
Last night I wore lipstick. As insignificant as that may sound, putting on that lipstick reminded me what it feels like to feel like a woman.
I haven’t put on lipstick in about two years, since the time I really got into the E.D. for the second time. A friend of mine, my Young Life co-leader (when I was leading), was getting married, and I knew I’d be seeing a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a long time. And I wanted to look good. I’d had a good week, despite having to deal with more issues with my car, and upon leaving to go back to school in the evening, wanted to surprise my mom with how well I was doing. So, after I’d gotten all ready – which included putting on jewelry (something I’m not particularly fond of, and had to go into my mom’s room to find) and a dress and a pair of wedges – I found some of my mom’s lipstick, and with trepidation, applied it First to my upper lip, then to my lower. I felt silly not even knowing how to put it on, at almost 20, but hey, you live and you learn, right? Finally satisfied with the way it looked, I continued doing whatever I’d been doing before, knowing my mom would come in any minute to see how I looked. When she walked in, she gasped.
“You’re wearing LIPSTICK!!!!?????!!! It looks so good, Bridgey!! Oh my goodness, you look so beautiful!!!”
And while I don’t like to admit that I’m a person who likes compliments (and when I’m deep into the E.D., I absolutely detest them and don’t believe them in the slightest), hearing her say that felt really, really good. I actually FELT beautiful. In that moment, I didn’t really care that I may ingest an additional five calories that day due to the extra bit of fat sitting on my lips. I felt like a woman, and for the first time, that felt like a good thing.
The wedding was really hard for me to be at. I was expecting that to be the case, as a good majority of the guests were Young Lifers, many of whom I hadn’t seen since I left school to go to residential. I knew it would be hard, awkward, and uncomfortable, but I also knew I needed to go. I felt I owed it to Megan, who had been such a great friend to me during and after the time I was leading with her. It was also the first time I got to see three of my girls, the ones that I had led, and taken to camp, and whom I had felt so awful about leaving and, as I felt it, abandoning, when I had to leave Corvallis for treatment. I prayed the entire drive to Salem for the interactions I would have, and that I would feel Jesus’ presence with me throughout the evening. Though it was really, really hard, I do believe that prayer was answered. I don’t believe any of our prayers go unanswered, actually, just that we don’t always like the answer, but in this case, I did feel that Jesus blessed me with the feeling of His presence throughout the night. Driving into the vineyard, where the wedding was being held, the view got more and more beautiful the more my anxiety grew. It was perfect, in a way, like the two were countering each other. As I knew the time was getting closer to when I’d have to endure what I was so nervous about, I was being greeted with the Lord’s incredible creation – the sun overhead, sinking deeper into the sky ever so slowly, the fields of gold glowing, a perfect contrast with the dark green trees and beautiful white wooden fences. And, as if on cue, right when I opened my car door, taking a deep breath and making my final preparations to see everyone, my Young Life girls were walking up.
“BRIDGETTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”, they shouted, as they ran toward me and wrapped their arms around me so hard I lost my balance and had to grab onto their shoulders to avoid face-planting into the gravel. It was one of the best greetings I’ve ever received. Almost immediately, I felt the anxiety melt away, as I realized these girls loved me no matter what.
Granted, the other greetings I received were not quite so overwhelmingly loving, but I was so thankful to have my girls by my side throughout the night and to be able to celebrate with Megan. I ate dinner there, which was another challenge in itself (as if just being there wasn’t enough of one!), and though I knew I could get away with eating before and leaving after the ceremony, I also knew that that wouldn’t look very good in terms of my recovery and how I’m doing. So, I told myself that I would stay through dinner and do my best to enjoy it. To my surprise, my favorite food, salmon, was served, so that was really nice. I ate with my girls, and at around 8:30, started to say my goodbyes and head and then headed off to Corvallis. I called my mom and told her alllllll about my time, and then she affirmed how great it was that I did what I did, and how much progress I’m making. That was really good to hear. I went to bed, forgetting all about my lipstick.
This morning, I woke up to another beautiful day in Corvallis, and then enjoyed a nice, long walk, listening to my pastor (Pastor Ryan)’s sermon from last week that I missed since I wasn’t at home. It was a great message, and was a great way to start my day, refreshed.
And guess what? My clothes still fit the same, even though I wore (and possibly consumed some) lipstick yesterday. Who knows, maybe I’ll start wearing it more often.