It is difficult to feel like a woman when the body parts that you expect to define womanhood are missing. Even though I recently turned 40, I haven’t been in the feminine hygiene aisle at Target for a few years now (unless I’m cutting through to get from the lotion to the pens and pencils.) I smile politely at jokes about bras and undergarments even though I cannot relate to them anymore. Clothing has a different, usually unflattering fit, even with the implants in—maybe because the implants are in? The skin damage from radiation and the loss of tissue make them look unnatural, lopsided, and, if I’m being truthful, alien.
Cancer and its threats took my breasts and reproductive organs. After a few surgical procedures, I no longer recognize my own body. Now I have foreign objects affixed to my chest, no chance of producing more offspring, and a body that feels way older than 40. To further that along, I require hormone therapy that suppresses any estrogen I may have left, and that also accentuates every symptom of this extended menopause.
I suppose I could take the advice of the plastic surgeon and allow him to continue tweaking the reconstruction he’s created, but I’m tired of appointments, and needles, and surgeries, and, mostly, medications that make me nauseous. I’m tired of baring my chest for medical professionals, and I’m tired of trying to fix and modify what I have while being reminded of what I have lost.
I’m tired of feeling inadequate.
I’m tired of being self-conscious.
I’m tired of comparing myself to standards that I can never attain.
I’m tired of blaming myself for things that are out of my control, and
I’m tired of wearing a fake brave face on days when I don’t feel brave.
Instead of accepting this fatigue and wallowing in it, I’ve decided to become a woman.
A woman knows her self-worth, and surrounds herself with people who recognize it.
A woman accepts what it is that makes her unique and appreciates it.
A woman does not accept limitations.
A woman defines not only herself but also the standards for measurement.
A woman focuses on what she can control now, and creates a plan to change what she must in the future.
A woman is honest with herself.
I’m going to be a woman, because it might be that I finally have room inside of me to be one.