My Lips Hurt Real Bad!


Last night my husband lured me into our bedroom with a trail of chocolate and then jumped out from behind the door wearing a stocking mask.

How was your night?

It should be noted (lest it be interpreted as a nice gesture by Adam – GOD FORBID) that the chocolate came from a bar that I bought at the grocery store which was promptly stolen and half-eaten by said husband, before using the remainder as wife-bait.


Marital tom foolery aside, today is an important day, DAY THREE of no chapstick.

My mom just fell off of her stool.

Lip balm has long been an…issue, for me. At one point in High School I reached my hands into the pocket of my puffy vest (It was the early 2000’s jerk! Puffy vests were cool! ….ish…) and I pulled out seven, (7) different chapsticks. A boy I dated once described my lips (quite poetically, my naive 15-year old self thought at the time) as “shimmering pools of oil”.

For the past fifteen years this has been the progression of my addiction:

1. Chapstick original (never cherry!) as needed.

2. Lipsmackers whenever my lips needed some shine. And maybe every so often just because.

3. SoftLips (in their annoyingly skinny tubes that never lasted long enough to warrant the massive price tag) every hour on the hour.

4. Burts Bees. For years nothing but Burts Bees. Every five minutes. All day. Errry day.

7. Coconut oil. Applied as above but tricky to transport – especially in summer. (See: turns into liquid when warm)

5. A natural peppermint lip balm made locally by a woman in my town. Applied as above.

6. For the last three days, NOTHING. OMFG, NOTHING. Applied NEVER!

I’m freaking out man! Yesterday I was sitting around with a handful of the teens I work with, and made the mistake of casually mentioning that it had been two days since I “used”. One of them thought I had just run out of lip balm and helpfully whipped a tube out of his pocket and brandished it in my face.

Guys, I recoiled as if it were anthrax. Delicious, minty-smelling, lip-soothing, anxiety-reducing, moisture-replenishing anthrax.

“No!” I shrieked as I raised my hands in front of my face, ” I’m trying to quit!”

He looked at me and then shoved it closer “Oh my GOD, Madeleine” he cried, “Look at your lips!”

Look at my lips indeed. They’re dry and chapped and cracked and painful and I can’t stop licking them (Yes I KNOW I have to stop licking them! I KNOW it just makes it worse!) but I will not break my resolve. My entire life is structured around lip balm.

Lip balm and now, avoiding suspicious trails of chocolate.

It’s seriously getting ridiculous. I panic when I don’t have chapstick, apply and reapply twenty times in a two hour period. It’s a tic, a compulsion. And I will not let it win.

In the process of turning my back on this demon, I found a helpful website called Lip Balm Anonymous and even after reading it for an hour I seriously can not tell if it is real life or satire.

It recommends a 12 step program for quitting! It has a questionnaire designed to assess the extent of your addiction! What’s worse is that I answered “yes” to like half of the questions, including the one that asked “Is lip balm use causing conflict with your spouse and your family?” and I had to shamefully remember that time I threatened to throw Adam down the stairs if he didn’t give me back my chapstick “right now for CHRISTS SAKE YOU MONSTER”.

The site recommend weaning yourself off the balm gradually, they say that going cold turkey has a higher rate of recidivism, but I can’t do anything in half-measures – either I’m in or I’m out, totally disinterested or obsessed, blissfully eating small pieces of delicious chocolate or getting terrified by a masked intruder. This is my life.

So. Day three. I would post a photo of my lips but I can still see the horror in that sixteen year old boy’s eyes, “But Madeleine! Look at your lips!”. What he has seen can never be unseen -I won’t do the same to you.

Please pray.

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