I've finally decided to accept my damaged body and let my freak flag fly.
When I had my first breast surgery back in 2011, it was wrenching trying to figure out whether to lop just one or both globes off. I asked everyone I knew who had gone through the surgery and got a lot of the same hippie talk you get when you kvetch about love in your teens. "You'll know what's right" or "trust your instincts" or, even better, "think of yourself five years after the surgery, not five minutes".
Actually, that last one was mine. I trotted it out to a friend who was going through the surgery just after me and I had all the wisdom of a newborn foal.
The truth is, it's a fucking wretched decision to make, and yes, it's never as traumatic as you think it's going to be in the short term, but the long game can be a bitch on your psyche.
I got both done, for the record, and woke up from the massive surgery with little expanders inside me, so never had to go through the experience of being completely decimated in the chestal area.
One more surgery and several painful saline injections later, I had a new set that were not Hollywood-ready, but were smaller and unmoving and required a whole new wardrobe and state of mind after years of being G-size and unwieldy. People looked me in the eye. I could wear blazers. Construction workers lost interest. Girls didn't tsk at me as much anymore.
When I was fully used to walking around as a small-titted gal, I got a nasty strep infection that settled on an implant and yada, yada, yada, I had to get the left one removed permanently.
I woke up from that surgery finally understanding the sting of being lopsided and it blew. Since then, I've kept the space warm with a chicken cutlet and a rotating couple of special bras that together are worth more than my car, and I've rarely gone out, especially swimming or in anything tight, without the comfort of balance.
When you're on the cancer-go-round, it's a gigantic respite not to have to also present as damaged to every person who glances at your tight sweater and sees something amiss. But lately, the deceptively cute but crazed little 6-year old Id who lives in my house, aka Frances, has been noticing life in general more and in her mean girl ways, making comments about how embarrassing it would be if someone saw me naked with my missing boob.
"Can you imagine?" she says. "I would die."
At first, I was inspired to tease her relentlessly for being so sensitive to what other people think, but now I realize I wasn't being imaginative enough. I must mortify her to teach her a lesson and stop myself once and for all from living in my two-titted bubble world of fakery.
When I started my big walks several weeks ago I wore my beloved cutlet in my sports bra and somewhere around kilometre three it ended up migrating to the middle of my chest for the rest of the walk. So I made the decision to leave the cutlet in the drawer on most days, emerging from my house braless, lopsided and as superfreaky as I am.
I do get a few looks. But I care not. I may burn that cutlet in a barrel one day and then quote Andrea Dworkin for a solid week.
Frances will be scarred forever, of course, especially after I take them swimming this summer and change back into my clothes in front of the world. But if she's ever horribly damaged by life, I hope she feels woman enough to let her freak flag fly, too.