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Friday Fumbling – On learning to be kind to myself

March 12, 2010

I was awake at 4:30 in the morning. After sleeping almost steady since my breast reduction surgery at 10:30 the previous morning, there was very little sleep left in me.

I lay there in bed, on my back – my least favourite position, but the only position that works when your breasts have road maps of slices across them. My hands moved down to my chest… and I started to cry.

No, it wasn’t the pain – that was mostly managed by the painkillers. Partly the tears were just about the beauty of that moment. For the first time since the day I ballooned out of a wimpy training bra, I was putting my hands on my breasts and feeling small, firm, normal-sized breasts, even under the layers of bandages. Nothing flopped to the side or hung down to my belly-button. They were PERKY!

But there was something deeper behind the tears. A release. A forgiveness. A realization that I am okay and that I didn’t make a mistake.

All of the baggage I’ve been carrying? The reason it took me so much time and contemplation to get to the place where I was ready for this surgery? It’s all because I believed that wanting smaller breast was just too selfish.

If there’s one thing I’ve been raised to fight against, it is selfishness. After all, isn’t a good Christian woman supposed to be the embodiment of selflessness? Especially once you’ve become a mom? Doesn’t that verse in the Bible really say “Do unto others. Period.” ? At least that’s the way my internal monologue seemed to interpret it.

Oh, it’s not that I haven’t learned to be selfish in my life. I can be VERY selfish. Often. But… it usually comes with a good helping of guilt. Or I manage to justify it because “others are benefitting too – not just me.” Or, if nothing else, I get to be kind to myself once in awhile just because I”ve EARNED it – through hard work, pain, diligence, whatever.

Not only was it selfish, but it was… oh that dreadful word… frivolous.

What’s a mature 43 year old do-gooder feminist in management in a non-profit organization who has been known to stand on the soapbox of simple living, justice, treehugging, and compassion now and then doing contemplating something as frivolous as plastic surgery? Sheesh! Aren’t there people to feed in this world, HIV orphans to look after, injustice to stamp out?

And yet, there I was at 4:30 in the morning, knowing that I’d made the right decision. And crying happy tears because I was okay. I had given myself permission and I had worked past the many ways I judge myself, and I was not going to hell for it.

I have a pretty good feeling God’s not standing in judgement somewhere shaking her head in my direction. Probably the only person judging me all this time was myself. And I’m letting that go, bit by bit.

And soon… I’m going to buy myself some lovely, frivolous, fitted blouses. And they might not even come from Value Village.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. March 12, 2010 8:01 pm

    Yay!!!! My post reduction breasts have even stayed perky after two pregnancies and breastfeeding. The surgery is brilliant. The worst of it is over. You will have so much fun in about six weeks when you get to go bra shopping. I had such an AHA moment in the dressing room when, for the first time ever, I was wearing a perfectly fitting bra.

  2. Kelly permalink
    March 12, 2010 8:08 pm

    It wasn’t frivolous or selfish in any way shape or form – I’m sure you’re the only one that does – I don’t even think of it as plastic surgery. I’m glad you’re doing so well.

  3. March 12, 2010 9:27 pm

    oh heather! yay! i am so happy for you and my grandma would be too. by seeing her have that same thing done when i was a teenager I was able to see how much pain she had been in before , and was then freed of after, the procedure. I think taking care of yourself is a wonderful example to set to your children, your friends. and they don’t call it catholic guilt for nothing…let that go… (lol)

    again, congrats! I am so happy for you. I hope the worst is over and the healing is just that, healing.


  4. March 12, 2010 11:43 pm

    Bravo! And I agree with Kelly. It sounds more like required than plastic surgery to me. Coincidentally I just went bra shopping today and after struggling to get the right fit for over an hour with an absolutely dead average body I can’t imagine what it’s like to have to make comfortable/workable choices when one is as gifted as you were! Enjoy your recovery!

  5. March 13, 2010 5:26 am

    Good post!!!

    (As a guy, I’ll slink away quietly now.)

  6. March 13, 2010 7:34 am

    SO happy for you. So glad you feel it’s the right decision.

    I had a dream last night that I saw you and you were jumping up and down and waving to me, and because it was right after surgery, I said, “Can you do that?”

    And you said, “Yes.”

    Weird, eh? I really don’t expect you’re jumping yet. But you will!

  7. March 13, 2010 9:05 am

    So very happy for you, Heather. So very.

    Besides getting to buy some pretty things (YAY!), I am excited to see how this affects your whole entire physical life. I imagine you turning into even more of an Adventure Woman now. 🙂

  8. March 13, 2010 11:49 am

    Hello Heather, this is a wonderful post & I am SO happy for you. I hope you have a fantastic shopping expedition in a few weeks & NO, you are NOT selfish or frivolous. In just over three weeks time, I’ll be undergoing surgery for breast reconstruction. I’m terrified & excited. I’ve had many people question my decision, wondering why I can’t accept myself as I am now. Like you, I have major body issues & being like this makes me feel even worse. By having the surgery I’m hoping to draw a line under the whole cancer thing & move on with my life. I will keep you in my thoughts & thank you for sharing your journey with us.

  9. March 13, 2010 7:52 pm

    congratulations and happy dance!
    Now you just have to watch those big canals in your shoulders smooth out.
    I’ve thought about naming them … those bra strap excavations.

    I’m so happy for you (: (: (: (: (: (: (: (: (: (: (: (: (: (: (: (:
    (that’s a lot of grins!)

  10. Dovelily permalink
    March 13, 2010 8:02 pm

    Congratulations, Heather! I’m so happy for you! Looking forward to hearing more from you about your recovery and all of the wonderful things that will follow! You were most definitely NOT selfish to do this. I admire your courage and sense of adventure. Thank you for sharing your experience here. Lifting you in prayer…

  11. March 14, 2010 2:45 pm

    You go girl! You are an inspiration. I’m so happy for you.

  12. March 15, 2010 9:52 pm

    Reading through your posts, Heather, and finding myself in in-between places: sometimes wanting to scream and sometimes wanting to rejoice. With this comment, both:

    “If there’s one thing I’ve been raised to fight against, it is selfishness. After all, isn’t a good Christian woman supposed to be the embodiment of selflessness?” (Hear me screaming at this point?) And then, “…I’d made the right decision…I had given myself permission and I had worked past the many ways I judge myself, and I was not going to hell for it.”

    A taste of heaven, I think, when women – yes, even Christian ones, break out from the constricting bindings of “selishness” and redefine such as “permission” and “freedom” and maybe, just maybe an expression of the life God desires for us in the first place!

    The irony is not lost on me that a sense of freedom is experienced in the context of your breasts; a literal freeing from the kinds of binding that have been necessitated up to now. Be perky. You deserve it. You are it. And yes, God is most definitely smiling. She does that a lot.

  13. March 20, 2010 7:12 am

    Heather, what an honour to be coming along for your verbal ride this saturday morning.
    We rejoice with you.

  14. March 25, 2010 11:07 am


    p.s. oh the bras and tops you will find 😉
    always remember this: you are the most important person

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