Dear Annie: I am a 29-year-old woman, and I’ve been having an ongoing debate with my boyfriend of 10 years.
I wear makeup because I am insecure about my skin and my face in general. I have tried any and all products recommended to me to help clear up my skin.
I have suffered from eating disorders in the past and have constant fixation and amplification of every flaw, so I’m aware of the fact that it might be body dysmorphia that is in part driving my anxiety about my face. I am going into therapy and seeing a dermatologist next month, and I will start my process there.
But in the meantime, when I look in the mirror at my bare face, I see a monster. Makeup takes away some of that anxiety — gives me confidence in myself, allowing me to enjoy life a little more.
While I know that it is not healthy to be so dependent on cosmetics, they are helping me get through these feelings for now.
The problem is that my boyfriend hates that I wear makeup. He constantly insists that I stop wearing it, to the point that we regularly get in heated arguments about this. He even jokingly says he will break up with me if I continue to wear it. I tell him that not wearing makeup just doesn’t work for me. I tried it once for a year. It didn’t clear up my skin, and it was horrible emotionally.
I really don’t know what to say to him at this point other than that I am in the process of hopefully solving this problem, but even if my blemishes clear up, the mental and emotional aspects will take time. I understand others will say: “It’s just makeup. Ditch it for him if you really love him!” But I don’t think people understand how much I really can’t stand seeing the face I have naked in the mirror. It brings me to tears and causes anxiety attacks — which I feel like my boyfriend would resent me even more for. He doesn’t have much patience for insecurity of any kind.
I’m not sure what to tell him other than, “Let’s wait and see.” Any advice? — Can’t Face the Mirror
Dear Can’t Face the Mirror: Just as it would be wrong for your boyfriend to demand that you wear makeup, it’s wrong for him to demand that you don’t. It’s your face, and it’s up to you what to do with it.
His threats of breaking up hardly qualify as “jokes” in my book. That kind of talk smacks of bullying. Enlist the help of your therapist in setting and enforcing boundaries in your relationship so that you can focus on healing yourself and reducing your anxiety.
Dear Annie: My soon-to-be 40-year-old daughter seriously needs help for her mental health. She is a recovering from addiction. She’s been sober for five years. Earlier this year, she got out of a two-year relationship, and it’s as though she’s been traumatized ever since. She walks around like a zombie. I’m wondering whether she’s back on drugs. What can I do? — Worried Mom
Dear Worried: You can encourage your daughter to seek help through in-patient or out-patient treatment centers and/or support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (https://www.na.org) or LifeRing Secular Recovery (https://www.lifering.org). Even more importantly, I would urge you to lead by example and attend meetings of Nar-Anon Family Groups (https://www.nar-anon.org). Living with the disease of addiction is too much for most of us to bear alone. The solidarity found in support groups can make even the most daunting problems a little bit more manageable.
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