September 17, 2008

Bound by blood or law

Everyone needs a rest sometimes. To just lie around and do nothing, and recoup. The same goes for the biggest organ we all have--our skin. Especially my skin, which has to endure the ravages of a razor's edge every day. That takes off more than hair; it takes off skin cells. Some days, it needs a break.

That day is today. I've got the day off work, so I'm doing nothing but moisturizing (and working from home at my second job). It's quite amazing what one day without shaving can do to restore my poor skin. As a bonus, when next I shave, it gives me that extra-clean sensation. Like showering after days of lying in bed with a fever. And until then, I just endure feeling... dirty. And try not to rest my chin on my fist. (Ouch!) On top of which, I have to time my movements around the house so they don't coincide with others, at least until dark. Only one other person in my household knows about this particular thorn in my side: my mother.

I live at home while I repay my student loans, but a few years ago, my mother remarried. Thing is, when you're used to living alone, or nearly alone, suddenly being around people again does not automatically make them all "family." Even if you get along--which I definitely cannot say we always do--trust is hard to build. Maybe some of us feel immediately comfortable enough in new situations to walk around with our shirts off, flaunting whatever flaws we may have, but I'm of a more reserved sort. Maybe one or two of them have guessed, but I have never spoken of it. And considering one of them was the one who had that response to the Tweezie commercial in the previous post, and others suggest family holidays without running water like it's no issue, I doubt they've put the puzzle together.

I went through my laser treatment while living with them, so there's a big puzzle piece right there. I'm sure they'd seen me applying the topical anesthetic cream to my face half an hour before going to the clinic. And one summer, we ended up in a hotel room that had the sink and mirror outside the bathroom proper, and I had to sit around in plain sight in the morning with bleach working its magic all along my jaw. I remember saying it was cream, in case they were wondering. And technically, it was. But if they'd ever gone into my drawers in the bathroom at home and read the box, they would have known what the "cream" was really for.

So why don't I just lay it on the table? After all, they're family, right? And boy do they like to make digs at how long I spend in the bathroom! The answer is simple. Some of these new relatives are related to extremely nasty, unhappy people. The sort of people who look for ways to be malicious. This is where trust comes into play--our new family may know their other relations are the sort of people you'd be rooting to get shot in a blockbuster film, but it doesn't stop them from communicating intimately and thoroughly with these people, even if by accident. So even if your family is charged by the laws of the universe to unconditionally love you, those laws do not extend to others outside that mystical circle.

I have a hard enough time making my mother understand the trial it is to live with this, sometimes. My embarrassment fluctuates from resolutely coping to totally humiliated, but that doesn't mean she should feel free to share my "issues" with her workmates. And she has trouble remembering that it'll take me more than fifteen minutes to get from bed to out-the-door if she needs me to go out.

So who does know about this aspect of my life? Who do I talk to? Who have I told? I'll save that for another day.

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