My life is pretty much an open book, but sometimes the personal information which I feel comfortable disclosing makes others a little squeamish. Sometimes (not often) this gives me pause. I’ve gone back and forth with myself over whether or not to write about my most important personal transformation of 2015. Ultimately (and obviously, cuz here we are) I decided to share it. I’ll explain why.
A body story:
I identify with the late-bloomers. I believe in continuous evolution, and many of mine have taken decades. But it’s really the physical reality of my adolescence that identifies me so. You see, puberty for me took a really long time. One of my sad nicknames in middle school (and much of high school) was ‘Maddy Flatty.’ Creative, right? Well, I sure showed them! I wasn’t done transforming until after high school, but boy did I blossom! My flat-chested torso grew rapidly and alarmingly over the course of just a couple years. After asking for divine intervention for so long, I was stunned and unhappy with the delivery of my answered prayers. In the coming years I hunched, donned turtlenecks and cowls, and silently hated my bosom.
In my twenties I knew someone who had a breast reduction surgery, and I fantasized about getting one too. However I also knew I would have babies, and I would want to breastfeed them. (How I knew then that breastfeeding would become one of my joys in motherhood I cannot guess!) So I put it out of my mind. I began to experience some of the physical challenges large-breasted women face, like chronic lower-to-mid back pain, so I focused on strengthening my muscles to ameliorate the problem. In shops, I learned to walk past spaghetti strap dresses, cute little bandeaus, and adorable bikini tops so as not to torture myself with the pervasive longing for a different physical shape.
But that’s not the most important part of this story. I learned to love my breasts. Anyone who’s known me in recent years can attest to my bawdy humor, low necklines, beautiful boudoir photos, and vocal expression hailing my endowment! But this was not an overnight change. Love of my breasts is an appreciation I cultivated over years, and with help. I have been blessed to meet and learn from several women whose passion it is to teach empowerment and self love. These days I share what I have learned because I cannot keep quiet about the mindset shifts which have helped me to create a life I love so dearly. I want every girl and woman to know what I know, because these are not frivolous teachings. Lessons like the ones of which I speak transform completely and ripple out toward others in waves of love and health which cannot be measured. The women from whom I have learned have multiplied over years of women’s circles and deep authentic friendships, but I want to share with you where I began, in case you find yourself in a place of beginning. Especially as a New Year dawns.
Dr. Christiane Northrup taught me to massage my breasts daily in the shower, circling 50 times in one direction, 50 times in the other, all the while repeating, “I love you, I love you, I love you.” Dr. Deb Kern reawakened my desire to dance, and the awareness and expansion of my innate sensuality. Regena Thomashaeur (a.k.a. ‘Mama Gena’) showed me how to fiercely stand for my transformation, gave me tool after tool for actually doing the work, and introduced me to powerful sisterhood which changed everything. Sunny Markham makes the ayurvedic oils and taught me specific technique for massaging breast tissue, a practice I will continue all the days of my life. Photographer Liz Linder trained her lens on me and showed me my own beauty.
In June of 2014, I was on a plane home from dropping my daughter off at camp in Canada, and I was feeling the heaviness of my breasts. My bra was digging into my torso, my back ached, and my shoulders were tired. The idea of smaller breasts flashed across my consciousness. I dismissed it as quickly as I’d become accustomed over the years. And then I thought… ‘I haven’t breastfed either of my children for a decade, I’m done having babies.’ I thought about breast reduction surgery. I argued with myself, ‘but I love my breasts!’ I then asked myself if loving my breasts meant I shouldn’t transform them, if I could. My curious mind wondered if my physical condition (chronic back pain, bra strap grooves in my shoulders) was enough for my insurance company to pay for surgery. I was shocked to find myself delving into this particular personal inquiry. And so it continued over the course of the next 18 months.
My inquiry looked like this. I massaged my breasts in the shower and told them I love them. I talked to my body about transformation. I shared my idea with my closest girlfriends. I meditated alone and in circles. My husband and I discussed what I might look and feel like. I had conversations with my two deceased grandmothers (one who had breast cancer twice) about their legacy and my part in creating a new legacy. I prayed as I went through the requisite mammograms. I danced through my fears, frustrations, and possibilities with the women in my Qoya dance class. I cried tears of grief. I joyously envisioned spaghetti strap dresses. I caressed my collection of both bulletproof and exquisite bras as I boxed them up to be sent to women in need. I prepared for surgery.
On December 16, 2015, I had a bilateral breast reduction surgery. This Christmas season has been the most wonderful time to receive (love, support, texts, and even meals) from my family and friends. I’m healing really well and I wouldn’t be sitting at my computer writing this if it weren’t for the rush of energy that’s occurring right now. Joe and I celebrated our wedding anniversary this week and I went out in public for the first time. I am ready and excited to go out and usher in 2016 with friends tonight.
I share my story because I want to impart this piece of wisdom: Love yourself. I mean all of yourself. Your body. When my daughter was seven she asked me if her bathing suit made her look fat. We had a conversation about how our bodies hear us, our thoughts and our words. She understood in about two seconds what had taken me almost forty years to learn. Please learn this. Transformation is your choice. If you choose it, make that choice from a place of self-love rather than self-loathing. Learn to love your body like this: use mirrors, soften your tone, unfurrow your brow. Look yourself over and say it every day until you begin to believe, and then never stop. Make this your 2016 self care practice and your life will never be the same. I love you. I love you. I love you.