When I was younger, a boyfriend thought I was cheating on him and broke my nose.
He hit me three times in the face while he called me names. I still remember the explosion of pain, the shock that paralysed my entire body, the blood everywhere. How my vision went black around the edges. How all I could think was, He’s going to kill me, and I’m going to die wearing these hideous pants.
Weird thoughts go through your head when you’re terrified. Especially when you’re wearing embellished jeans.
It was the first time a romantic partner had physically hurt me. A week later, as the bruises were turning from purple to black, I broke up with him. He begged me to reconsider, yet somehow didn’t apologise for literally breaking my face.
I invented a story about walking into a door and repeated it over and over. I even played it up for laughs when I was feeling brittle, and I felt brittle a lot. Mostly, though, I felt incredibly ashamed. I felt like if I told the truth, people would blame me, judge me or tell me it was my fault. I felt broken, stupid and pathetic in every way.
Physically, I healed pretty quickly. Emotionally... well, that took longer. With time, therapy, and a lot of work, I can now look back without anger or sadness or bitterness. It was a horrible thing that happened to me. It changed me, but it doesn’t define me. And it was DEFINITELY not my fault.
Unfortunately, even though I’ve put this in its place and moved on with my life, I can never quite get away from it. I’m reminded of it every time I look in the mirror.
In case you’ve missed it, allow me to introduce you to my wonky nose.
My nose has not always looked like this. This is how it healed after my ex broke it. It isn’t like it’s bad or ugly--it’s just not right. And that bothers me.
It’s been bothering me more lately, and that’s probably because I’ve been spending a lot more time looking at myself. Scrolling through hundreds of pictures of yourself, editing dozens of close-ups of your own face... even if you're really confident (and I am), you can’t not see the things you’re unhappy about. I can't even explain how much it sucks when one of those things is a reminder of violence and a really dark time in your life.
Lately I’ve been thinking more seriously about getting my nose fixed. No, let’s not hide behind polite euphemisms: I am considering getting a nose job.
And I’m conflicted about it.
First, let’s be real: as far as I can tell, my nose works just fine. It lets me breathe, it smells stuff, it’s a great place to wear a diamond, it balances my glasses (albeit unevenly). I’m not talking about a nose job to correct a medical problem or restore proper functioning; this would be for purely aesthetic reasons.
Second, some further realness: I don’t want to change it very much. I want it to look like it does now, only without the bump in the middle, and I want it to be straight rather than crooked. That’s it. I want it to look the way it did before it was broken, which is why I talk about it terms of getting it "fixed." But that might just be a semantic argument I'm making, something to make this all less serious in my head. A subtle nose job is still a nose job. It's still major surgery.
I also want to make the point that I'm not saying there’s ANYTHING wrong with bumpy or crooked noses, or big noses or tiny noses; all noses are great. If this was how my face had always been, I’d embrace it like I’ve embraced all my other less-than-perfect (but still awesome and much-loved) features--my crooked bottom teeth, the freckles on my shoulders and chest, my close-together eyes. Etc.
Some people might think those things are flaws. But to me, they’re special. I like the different things about myself that make me ME, and I also want you guys to like the things that make you YOU. I'm big on that in my life, and I always try to bring it to the stuff I write.
But my crooked nose? That’s not mine. That’s not ME. It’s something that was done TO me, against my will, in the most traumatic way possible.
Part of me feels like I need to keep sucking this up and trying to not let it bother me. It’s such a small thing, I sternly tell myself. Aren’t you always telling people to love themselves? Aren’t you everyone else’s cheerleader? What’s stopping you from doing that for yourself? You look fine, and this doesn’t matter in the long run. Get some perspective!
But then another part of me is all, YES, LET’S DISCUSS PERSPECTIVE.
One, it isn’t like I spend my days weeping and sinking to the floor in a slow spiral over my face. Someone broke my nose, which changed how it looks, and even though I’ve made peace with that event, I am allowed to not like the changes that were made to it.
And two, this would probably bother a lot of people, and I don’t have to try to act like it doesn’t bother me. I do not have to hold myself to a higher standard of behaviour than I would hold anyone else.
When I’m having an especially hard time with a situation, I ask myself what I’d say to a friend if they came to me with the exact problem. But it’s not helping me much in this case, because I want to say so many different things.
I’d definitely tell my hypothetical friend that their face is THEIR FACE, and they are the only ones who can make decisions about it. If it’s something they can afford without crazy difficulties, and they’ve done all the research and have a good doctor, they should go for it. And then I’d bring them presents in the hospital.
But I’d also want to remind them that plastic surgery won’t change anything else except the feature in question. My life won’t be easier or more glamourous with a straighter nose. Benedict Cumberbatch won’t show up at my doorstep and be my boyfriend. I won’t have more free time, I won’t be a better writer. And I won’t wake up from surgery and never ever again think about that time a guy I thought I loved hit me in the face. Repeatedly.
It’s not a magic spell. Everything will be exactly the same... except for my nose.
So I’m asking myself now, is that enough? Is this so important that I’d spend a buttload of money and go through all that pain, just to have a non-wonky nose? Right now I’m thinking that yes, it may be. But there’s such a large question mark at the end of that sentence.
I don’t see my therapist very often anymore, but we still talk occasionally. I brought this up with her (weeks before I wrote this) and her professional opinion was that I’d be fine either way. My expectations of plastic surgery are reasonable and realistic, and there’s no right answer here because it’s a personal choice, she said. Whatever I eventually decide will be a good decision.
Thanks for the vote of confidence in my decision-making abilities and in me as a person, BUT I NEED ADVICE.
Help me sort out my feelings, guys. I’m feeling very vulnerable, both about the subject in question AND from putting so much of myself into this story. Am I a self-absorbed jerk? Am I a hypocrite if I tell everyone to love themselves the way they are, and then I get surgery to change my nose? What would YOU do? Or what would you tell a friend to do? Has anyone gone the rhinoplasty route and has some words of wisdom?