When I was enrolled in the chronic pain group, the neurobiologist I met with was quite concerned with the lines on my forehead. Apparently, I have lines on my forehead that appeared during many of our conversations. I can’t see them. They were, undoubtedly, bothering her a lot more than they were bothering me.
I tried to dismiss the topic, informing the doctor that these lines were the least of my problems. Big picture -- I’m thirty-seven years old and enrolled in a chronic pain program. The lines don’t cause me pain, after all. I thought that first mention would be the end of it. Surely, we had more important matters to discuss.
But, apparently I was wrong. Each time I privately met with the neurobiologist, she commented on my forehead. (Thankfully, she didn’t address the issue during our group sessions). She told me she observed them on my forehead when I seemed to be in deep thought, when I was preoccupied, and when I was in pain.
I went home, very self-conscious, and went on the hunt for these lines. I didn’t find them on any of the pictures hanging on the walls of our home. I didn’t see them in the mirror when I gazed at myself. Maybe, sitting in a doctor’s office, attending a chronic pain group, having a medical condition that resulted in chronic pain, had something to do with the appearance of my lines.
At subsequent meetings, the doctor would inform me that I needed to make a more conscious effort to relax my forehead, to smooth away the lines. She warned me that these lines could lead to wrinkles.
I think that the lines on my forehead display what my mouth isn’t saying and what my leg isn’t showing. I have always been described as “quiet.” As I got older, I knew I was quiet because I was smart; my quiet often kept me out of trouble. I bite my tongue quite a bit, and keep things to myself -- or will write about them. As for my leg, aside from a multitude of veins and a scar from my muscle biopsy, it looks okay. But it’s not. And I know that when I’m in pain, I can’t always “give in” to the pain. I’ve got a young son to care for and responsibilities and obligations that don’t go away simply because I’m in pain. So I’ll grimace, purse my lip, and, evidently, have some lines appear on my forehead.
Perhaps I’m in the minority, especially in youth-obsessed Los Angeles, but I don’t know why wrinkles are such a bad thing. Wrinkles show I’ve lived. Wrinkles show I am living. Wrinkles show experience and emotions. Wrinkles show I’m authentic.
I have been told that I am a stoic. It’s not necessarily a compliment. But, let’s be honest, complaining doesn’t get me anywhere. It won’t make the pain go away. So I do tend to quietly suffer.
But those closest to me, will look at me and see me. And they’ll know. They’ll watch my mouth, or my eyes, or the lines on my forehead. And they’ll know.