Breaking

So, if you have read my last post, you’ll be happy to know that my husband and I had a great date to celebrate our anniversary.

We went birthday shopping for our daughter, grabbed some coffee, went to an escape room, and had a delicious dinner out.

It was so fun to get out and play together. Our winter anniversary used to mean things like going skiing or a weekend get away. Then, for budget reasons, it shifted to dinner and movie or something of the sort.

We’ve been looking for a bit of a change because movies are what we do after the kids are in bed, nearly, nightly. We aren’t missing time in front of a screen, we are missing being goofy and adventuring together. We are missing uninterrupted conversations and play. We’ve only done two escape rooms now, but I guarantee there will be more. It’s such a fun way to connect, to feel like you had an adventure, and to laugh together over silly misunderstandings or joyful accomplishments. We had a blast.

It had been several months since our last date night and I was eager for it. The weeks leading up to it, felt almost like anticipating Prom or something. My heart had been missing dating my husband and I was ready, emotionally.

I also felt the need to be ready, physically. I wanted to look the part. Although getting “prom ready” when you live with and share finances with your date is a whole different scenario.

Which brings us to this super fun topic; adult acne.

Something happened during my last pregnancy that has basically made me feel like puberty round 2. Clearly it was so fun the first time, my body just had to go back for more.

I’ve been working on changing products, washcloths, diet choices, etc.

I’ve tried and failed at elimination diets where I have given up gluten, dairy, and caffeine. I can’t say they didn’t work because I hardly lasted at the attempt.

Recently, I did just gluten which lasted much longer. What I’ve learned from that experience is that you can come for my bread and pasta, but try to take my cheese and coffee….you will be met with resistance. Let’s blame my French ancestry.

So with all my eliminations and skin care routines and lamenting, I made some minor improvements and was feeling better about my date.

Then, the night before, I bent down to kiss my daughter goodnight and got scratched by a too sharp finger nail. I now had a stunning lip injury to draw attention away from my other maladies. Kids are good for such things.

The truth is the skin thing has been going on for three years and I am tired of it. I’m tired of what I see in the mirror. I’m tired of never quite feeling together and of the sense of longing for how I used to look.

I have just been tired.

I finally got an appointment to try to discern what I going on with it and to discuss some other concerns. I’ve been fairly certain this whole time that it had something to do with my copper IUD. All the symptoms; the breakouts and dry, itchy skin, the fatigue, the irritability. All of it goes back to when I had that placed so I’ve kept researching and journaling and trying to find answers. Everything kept coming back “this is a non-hormonal device, so it shouldn’t affect you in this way.”

So I brought that all in to my regular provider. I say “regular” but haven’t been in nearly three years. Whoops. I brought it in, totally expecting to be brushed off. All my research or discussion with other people had me feeling that this couldn’t possibly be the trigger.

You know what happened though, they didn’t treat me like I was crazy. We started talking about what’s going on. How I feel, my symptoms, and some things that have always been a part of my life.

I’ve never handled metal well. I can only wear very high quality metals without getting a rash. It makes me super fun to buy jewelry for; sorry, husband. I have to be selective of the jeans I wear because the metal snaps can give me a rash. I find this can be a great excuse to wear leggings as pants. People don’t give you too much grief about it when you tell them it’s an allergy.

I’ve always been extremely sensitive to the cold. My hands and feet turn blue pretty easily and I can only spend minimal time outdoors in the winter.

Chocolate has always made me breakout. I’ve told myself it was the sugar or dairy and tried to find a darker, less sweet chocolate. I’ve made all sorts of other changes but tried to keep that chocolate. Why would I want to give that up?

Then there’s shellfish. It’s actually quite recently that I learned not everyone’s hands itch like crazy when peeling shrimp or busting into a crab leg. I’ve always loved the taste of shellfish but have to talk myself into the process of getting to it. Somehow, I just thought this was a normal part of eating shrimp until I mentioned it to a couple people and was met with questioning stares. Turns out that’s called an allergy, folks.

It’s interesting the things we accept as normal until we have reason (whether through experience or education) to question them.

So as I brought this all before my awesome provider, she nodded and asked questions, decided to run some tests and go forward with a change in birth control method. All the things that I have dealt with my whole life are a sign that I don’t process metal well. Which should have been pretty obvious but, even more specifically, I don’t process copper well. Having copper permanently in my system was causing a host of health problems and I could not find any support that it was doing so.

You would think that the hours of research I poured into deciding on a birth control method before placement would have brought something up. Or the three years of research after placement as I tried to discern what was wrong. Everything was a closed book “this can’t be what’s bothering you” until I met with my provider and got the correct buzzword (or phrase).

“Copper toxicity”

It was like I had just received the pass code and a whole new world of information was open to me; personal accounts of other women who felt this way, medical notes, copper detox plans, etc. All with the caveat that it only affects you if you have a copper sensitivity to begin with, but all with a sense of validation. I’m not crazy after all. Who knew?

I’m eager to feel better, for my head to become clearer again and feel more like myself. I’m excited to regain some focus and for my skin to clear up as well. I’m totally ready for a change hopeful that it will be fast, but there are lessons that I want to take with me going forward.

Our outer appearance can be a reflection of internal health and it is important to find answers. However, you can’t hide just because you don’t love the way you look.

If you’re saying “Well, duh” right about now, I get it. It’s isn’t the most enlightened of statements but it is something I have had to work through on particularly bad days. I was feeling unattractive and out of place in my own skin and wanted to find a way to hide that without caking on the make up, because of my overall skin health and my lack of blending skills. It can seem easier to just hide but I’d have to remind myself that my appearance isn’t the end-all be-all to who I am. No one who actually loves me is going to love me any less because of that stubborn skin, post partum body, or messy hair.

It’s a truth that I’ve always known in my head, but feeling so uncomfortable in my skin for this long, has made me live it. Made me choose it, over and over again. I’m excited for the change, but that was good for me.

Our blemishes can be a bridge builder if we don’t let them get in the way. A conversation topic to commiserate or a chance to encourage others in their own struggles, the validation I felt when reading other women’s reports.

I have other blemishes that have built bridges in my life too; sin in my past or in my daily life. Opening up about these struggles for real conversation. I was the good, little Christian girl who went too far with a high school boyfriend and felt the effects of a Scarlet Letter in certain social circles. It didn’t help that the relationship was a controlling one and I was told that I was broken now, when I finally worked up the courage to get out. Those words followed me “You’re ruined now and no good Christian guy will love you.”

Those were our parting words and I took them in, it was part of the terrifying aspect of opening up to my husband at first. I wasn’t a whole person, so why should I deserve to be cared for as such?

I had a very clear understanding of my own sin and a very poor understanding of God’s grace.

It’s been this conversation that has opened doors in so many relationships among women who have felt the same way. Who have had to fight the lies that tell them they are worth no more than their blemishes.

Shared experiences can bridge the gap between “I’m alone and unlovable” and “I’m a child of the God of Grace.” The only pass code needed to walk through that door is a repentant heart which speaks to Jesus, the forgiving prince and loving groom.

I have so many other daily struggles, which seem smaller. Isn’t it funny, though, how we categorize our sin when it is all a part of what Christ died for?

I’ve been breaking down doors and being exposed to pride and fear in my own heart through all the craziness of the past year. Being home so much is a good way to spend a lot of reflective time with God… and it can be humbling.

I’ve broken down on some rules with the kids and become a more relaxed parent. For better or worse, more on that in a future blog post. I’ve seen over and over again what God can do with my mess when I just invite Him in.

I always find him the most in seasons of breaking; breaking out, breaking up, breaking down, or breaking in to old painful memories to realign them with the truth.

With Him at the helm, I’m always working to break free.

I wanted to wait and share this post with a series of before and after images to show the change in my skin. Unfortunately the progress is slow going, but true healing usually is.

Published by faithlikefireweed

I am a wife and mother in the Great state of Alaska. I write about faith, food, and family, and finding extravagant grace in simple living.

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