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The Christmas Zit

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Just in the nick of time for the holiday parties, my chin decides to sprout a nose of its own. Not a cute button, but the most passive-aggressive, attention-seeking, belligerent Pinocchio you ever did see. Suddenly my whole face is bullied by it. 

My holiday “visitor” is so commanding that I’m not quite sure whether to RSVP for one or two. Gamely, I decide to not let this get in my way. I spackle on the cover up, don dangly Indian earrings, and enthuse an overly hearty “Happy holidays!” to distract my host. His eyes go straight to my zit. 

For the rest of the evening, the party revelers continue to chitchat with my chin, which makes the rest of me feel like a wallflower. I try my best with glib repartee, the Christmas card I got from Laura Bush, the osso bucco recipe I’m contemplating for Christmas Eve. Still, nothing can compete with Pinocchio: Live On Stage! on my chin. 

In high school, we used to call these unfortunate eruptions “Fromundas.” Meaning “from under,” for a pimple like this is more like an immovable granite mountain than a volcano seeking topical relief. Let’s face it; we can all enjoy the cathartic effects of ridding our complexions of a ready and willing white head. Many of us, in our imaginations, happily perform this service on others, who amaze us with the obliviousness of the low hanging fruit on their own faces. 

Fromundas, however, are anything but satisfying. In fact, they are a trap. Despite how much you pick, probe, and inspect, experimenting with different light and angles (beware of the hypnotic effect of the rearview mirror, Big Brother is watching), you get nada. The experience is so remarkably unsatisfying, that you have no choice but to go back for more. And more. And more. Before you know it, your unyielding Fromunda is afflicted by an abrasion and contusion (cut and bruise), and now you really have problems. 

This is where I currently find myself, so the day after the party I decide to try something new: Reiki. Reiki is an ancient, Japanese energy healing technique. It is so popular that it has infiltrated even my Old School Roman Catholic family. My Aunt Marcia a certified Reiki Master, and regularly practices at a hospital on the doctors and nurses as well as the patients. 

I read Pamela Miles’s book on Reiki, before attending my aunt’s two-hour class, after which she lights candles and gives me my first two “attunements.” An attunement is like hanging your “Open” sign to the universe so that the Reiki energy may pass through your hands and do its healing work. One does not “do” Reiki; rather one’s hands are a conduit through which Reiki does its thing. 

My first week I practice twice a day on myself for fifteen minutes. Putting one hand on my heart, and another on my stomach, I “invoke” Reiki as I was taught. I don’t notice anything special happening, but I do feel deeply relaxed. After a few minutes, I think what the heck, and place my hand on my Fomunda. 

“Wow, your face looks better!” exclaims my co-worker Julie the next day at work, which is weird, because who asked her? But Julie’s right. My Fromunda is now flat, obvious only for the pinky-sized scab that I inflicted on myself. 

There are certain hardships, challenges, and ugliness that life serves up. Often, however, it’s what we do to ourselves as a reaction that makes the situation worse. 

I have been separated from my husband for six weeks now. With a two- and four-year-old to consider, we are trying to make this holiday as festive as possible with the traditional family activities. Needless to say, this has lead to moments so stressful that I’ve pulled over to weep on my drive home from work. 

My marital situation has too much in common with my Fromunda. No matter how hard I’ve tried, I can’t exercise the scourge that poisoned my marriage. But what’s been excruciatingly harder than trying to save it, is simply giving up. As the Pinnochio on my chin can attest, I’d rather hurt myself with lies—this time you can fix it—than accept my own powerlessness over the situation. 

Life gave me the Fromunda, but I gave myself the scab. Maybe the lesson is to let nature, human and otherwise, run its course without getting in the way. My job is simply to be patient and trust the mystery of healing to reveal itself in its own time. The futility of my misguided effort is as obvious as the second nose on my face.

By Melina Gerosa Bellows of


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