Balls to Speak about Boobs

Last night I received the balls to speak about my boobs. This gift of courage was delivered in a Facebook post - made by an erstwhile high school friend who has come to be a facebook friend. More precisely, he was a "crush" for a minute when I was 15. Our present relationship consists of viewing the posts and pictures of his cute little girl on facebook. Like me, he is an adoptive parent and I feel a common bond with him. I also keep up with him because he has a certain "je ne sais quois" - Balls. As a successful entrepreneur, he is not afraid to take on challenges and speak his mind. I like that. I know it's not appropriate to say balls but I don't care because it gets the message across in this culture and many others. Most of us know the spanish word "cojones". Well, that too. We will all agree on the word courage. In his post, my friend let the world know he had gotten laser treatments with results similar to plastic surgery. Now, alone I'd call sharing that information "gutsy" yet, it wouldn't have gotten my attention and I wouldn't be writing about it. Talk about elective plastic surgery is not that big of a deal nowadays but, it sort of is for men. My worklife over the past fifteen years has mainly consisted of working with and managing men. This is not shop talk.  Gutsy kicked up to the level of balls and squashed any illusion of vanity talk when his writing revealed: a former struggle with addiction, how it manifests in his post-addiction life and the real underlying decision for the procedure - his recently adopted young daughter. At age 55, he is concerned about what people will say about an older father to his 4 year old daughter. He wants to feel and look his best for her. After long term exercise and healthy eating he still felt like he looked old; so, he made his decision. As an adoptive mother, I totally get his inspiration. When my children came into my life at ages 3 and 4, I wanted to be perfect for them. Now at ages 21 and 23 they get that I am nowhere near perfect. I love that my friend's post closed with a Bang!, derailing any detractors, by noting that gift certificates in the amount of $250 each were waiting at the desk of the center's office for anyone else who might benefit from the same procedure. BAM! He left nothing left to question.  His brave personal story was a gift for me. It gave me the balls to speak about my boobs. The past couple of months I have been working up the courage to reveal something personal to give a type of gift to others. Recently I had breast reduction surgery. Twenty years of yoga, massage and visits to the chiropractor still weren't helping the pain in my neck and shoulders. Even though I qualified for medical insurance coverage, I still struggled with the decision to have surgery. Probably the biggest reason for my resistance was guilt. I have so many women friends who have struggled with breast cancer and have not had a choice in the decision about their own bodies. They have had necessary but unwanted mastectomies and double mastectomies and my surgery seemed so, well, vain. In addition to the guilt, fear stood in my way. Any change in your physical appearance can be unsettling. It's not that I really liked having large breasts, but they were part of my body and I accepted them. I got used to looking at myself with them. Familiar is comfortable but not always easy. Having large breasts has its benefits and disadvantages. In our culture they are revered by many - those who don't have them. In fifth grade jealous girls accused me of "stuffing", putting toilet paper in your bra, to look bigger - unnecessary for me. The whole routine of "I must, I must, I must develp my bust!", popular when I was going up - also unnecessary. When I was the new girl in a small town at age 14, my girlfriend tells me that everyone at school was talking about the girl with the big boobs and long blonde hair.  We were young and stupid. In middle school it's nice to be noticed. As I got older, the boob talk turned into insensitive comments: "Don't you get your eyes knocked out when you run?".  When deemphasizing, squishing sports bras hit the racks, I signed up immediately. I became extremely sensitive to the gawks and attention drawn to me for something for which I had no control. My determination to take attention away from that part of my body dominated my clothing choices and I developed a keen awareness of where people's eyes fell when they looked at me. First, working as a high school teacher and eventually, in a male dominated industry; I wanted to be seen for something more than body parts. As I got even older the physical pain kicked in. The pain started my process of consideration for breast reduction surgery. I rationalized; "I'll look thinner" and "I can finally wear button-up shirts without safety pins". These reasons were so shallow and I kept thinking I was just not doing enough. More massage and yoga - yet, the pain was still there. My final decision came with help and advice from two convincing friends, both breast cancer survivors. One had a double mastectomy and the other a single mastectomy. Both women were encouraging. They said; "You need to what is best for your health and well being". Also that; "Each person must make decisions about his/her own unique body that are right for him/her". They reminded me that the situation will get worse with age. I may be faced with serious back problems among other issues. That was it. I made an appointment with a plastic surgeon. Soon after, I got a call from the office saying that insurance would pay for the procedure. I did it! I did it because I wanted to feel better. Carrying around extra weight that yoga and massage cannot erase made me feel heavy in every sense of the word. I did it for my children. I wanted them to have a mom who is healthy and happy; able to exercise and stay physically active and independent for a long time to come. I did it for my yoga students.  I wanted them to have a teacher who feels lighter in spirit. I did it to be true to myself as a teacher, friend, and parent who believes every individual walks his/her own path and must decide each unique step.  Whatever decision you make is personal. No one should decide for you. Only you know every reason, consideration, or available resources for your decisions. In the end you live with the results - powerful and scary. There will always be detractors and you may even have personal doubts, but BAM! Do what's right for you and those you love. That's the gift I leave on the counter.  

5 Replies to “Balls to Speak about Boobs”

  1. Hi Cindi!
    Thanks for reading. I am trying to write pieces that are a little more personal and this was my first. I so appreciate your feedback.

  2. Thanks for this brave sharing Laurie. Hoping you are pleased and looking forward to an update on how this long and difficult decision has impacted you.

  3. Terry,
    Thank you for your comment. It’s wonderful to still have a connection with you. You don’t know it, but back when we were at UNCG I looked up to you. I felt you had a sense of wisdom – of people and the world – that I knew then, would take me years to acquire. Updates will come because I will keep writing and sharing as long as I am on this earth. My hope is always that what I write will make someone smile, think, laugh or consider.

  4. What a lovely thing to say! You’ve made me smile, cry and feel loved, all in one sweep. It’s gonna be a great day! 🙂

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