Motherhood has wreaked havoc on my looks.

I’m not talking about the weight gain, as unsightly as it is, or even the new grey hairs I sprout every time Aidan races ahead of me down the sidewalk.

What I’m referring to mainly is this skin condition I’ve got called xanthelasma. It is a collection of fat deposits under the skin that cause yellowish growths around the eyes. I don’t know why I was cursed with this thing—it’s often associated with high cholesterol and my tests were clean—but there you have it.

Years ago a small one (about as big as a freckle) appeared above my left eye. I had it removed by a plastic surgeon and it came back. I had it removed again and all seemed well with the world…until I got pregnant. That’s when the thing spread like a fire, so now I have a huge, yellow, wrinkled mass over each eye—like evil mini-wings or a second set of eyebrows—and a yellow smudge under my left eye that people often mistake for cover-up and whisper to me at parties that I should rub it in.

How I wish I could.

When Aidan was little and my affliction still new, I got online to see if there was anything I could do about it besides go under the knife again (even though my dermatologist promised me that was the only way). I found a chat room full of people with the same problem. I was happy to discover a community—and sad to read about their shame. One woman said she was convinced everyone she spoke to couldn’t stop staring at her eyes. Another said she was so self-conscious she started wearing a patch.

While I never resorted to an eye patch, I know how these women feel. I used to think people looked at me because I was pretty; now I’m convinced they’re wondering what that strange cauliflower is growing out of my eyelid.

While I was in the chat room, one woman said she did the Master Cleanse (the lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper one) and her xanthelasma started clearing up after 12 days. I have friends who have done this cleanse and always thought I could never survive it, but clearing up this mess on my face sans surgery? A doctor friend told me it wasn’t the craziest thing he’d ever heard; the Master Cleanse breaks down fat deposits in your body and xanthelasma is, after all, nothing but a big, pesky fat deposit. I knew I had to try.

The problem was I was breastfeeding (my acupuncturist said the xanthelasma might actually clear up naturally when I stopped, but he was unfortunately mistaken) and then I was pregnant, so I couldn’t do a detox. I tried acupuncture, colonics, taking a phospholipid called Phosphatidylcholine. I even saw a healer. Nothing worked. Although the healer said they would go away when I let go of my anger toward my mother!

When I was finally ready to cleanse, it was wintertime and friends told me I should wait till warmer climes, which made sense. During the New England winter, your body craves boeuf Bourgignon, hot chocolate and lentil soup, not lemonade.

And that brings us to now.

I have consumed nothing but lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water for 7 days. Plus Smooth Move tea to make me poop. And I’m here to tell you it sucks! I want to eat everything, especially everything Harlan and Aidan are eating. I want to eat oatmeal, bacon cheeseburgers, pancakes, ice cream and spaghetti Bolognese. I want to eat broccoli and black beans and apple sauce! Last night Aidan had mac ‘n’ cheese and Harlan roasted root vegetables and tilapia with lemon and capers.

I want to eat these things with every fiber of my being.

And yet there are benefits to my deprivation. For one, my energy is great. Surprisingly, I have more than usual. Also, and this is the best part, considering the other blow motherhood has struck to my beauty involves extra pounds and a puckered, fleshy belly that won’t quit…I’ve lost eight pounds! In seven days! And I’m supposedly doing this fast for another five! I’m having visions of being 120 pounds again, a weight I haven’t seen since my honeymoon. I’m thinking I might fit into my size 4’s currently filling bins in the basement. And who knows, maybe this fast, like centuries of fasts before it, will lead to some kind of clarity or transformation. Maybe I’ll be ready to write another book, maybe I’ll see God.

But the big question burning to be asked: What about the xanthelasma? Has it magically disappeared in a puff of smoke?

The answer is no, it hasn’t.

I’ve scrutinized it everyday and yesterday I thought it might have faded a bit. Today I thought the one over my left eye might have flattened out a little in one part. But I haven’t seen a dramatic change. And I might have been hallucinating.

If I do see real evidence that this is working, I will stick with it, do as many days as it takes. But if I reach Day 12 and there’s no sign of success? I imagine I’ll throw the towel in. Admit defeat. Call it quits.

Until then, it’s me and my lemonade.

And a whole lot of faith.

Every day I close my eyes and repeat the words, “I am naturally clearing up my xanthelasma and I feel beautiful.” And I pray that they they come true.

Me, my son and my xanthelasma

Me, my son and my xanthelasma

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