[I wrote this 2 years ago, but I didn’t publish it because I thought it was too intense and too raw. It still is. But I’m not anymore.]
Over the course of the next week or so I will begin writing the next chapter of my life: Going Out Into the World Breastless.
I know I made this decision to stay flat, to forego the additional surgeries, and all of the possible complications and discomfort that would be necessary in order for me to simply live up to someone else’s beauty standards. I accepted the decision before I went in for surgery. But as we know, just because we accept something and agree to move forward, it doesn’t mean the path is clear cut. There can still be resistance. And it can still suck.
It sucks that I had breast cancer. It sucks that I had a mastectomy. It sucks that I don’t have my breasts anymore. It really sucks that losing breasts means so many things in our society, things that losing a limb doesn’t even mean… but that’s perhaps another post.
So the next time you see me I won’t have breasts. Let’s try not to make this awkward.
I’ll try too (maybe).
I apologize in advance (but not really) for my off handed responses to your heartfelt sentiments. I apologize in advance (but not really) for my socially inappropriate statements, amped up intensity, and/or public baring of my non-breasted chest.
In order to make this a little less awkward. Here are a few things you should not say to me:
‘You’re so lucky! Boobs are annoying. I wish mine were gone.’ Please understand that this is like telling a woman who just had a miscarriage that children are annoying. I mean, I know kids can be annoying. I have two of them. And I know boobs can seem annoying, I had two of those! But now I don’t. So, just don’t say it.
‘At least you don’t have to go for mammograms any more’. This is true. And they are a nuisance. But I didn’t go for a mammogram for 9 years. And when I finally did, it saved my life. So just go for your mammogram. And don’t say it.
‘You look great’. Just don’t say it. It’s not that I don’t care about your opinion of how I look, it’s that I don’t care about anyone’s opinions about how I look. I never cared much, but over the last few years I have cared less and less. If I cared at all what people thought, I would’ve reconstructed. So don’t say it to me. But please, stand in front of the mirror and say it to yourself instead. And mean it. Really mean it! Because you look great. You really do.
And while you’re at it don’t talk to me about how you’re trying to lose weight. How you feel fat. How you feel ugly. How you have to get your hair done. How you really need a pedicure. (Seriously. This is where the intensity really comes in. Your friggin’ toenails?)
None of that shit matters! None of it! You’re a walking breathing miracle of life! Talk to me about things that are important! Your hopes, your dreams, your accomplishments, your fears!
Or better yet, don’t talk at all. Just sit with me. Sit with me and be grateful. Grateful for another day of life, no matter how shitty the weather may seem. Grateful for another deep breath, no matter how much smog or pollen is in the air. Grateful for this world that we move through, no matter how totally fucked it may seem.
Let’s be grateful we’re alive. And let’s not just start from gratitude. Let’s stay there. Let’s sit in it. Let’s live in it. Because everything else is just bullshit. Flat out, bullshit. Flat out.