I’m obsessed with a Sharon Van Etten song: Seventeen . You see, I’m not really sure if she’s writing it for a younger person, or her younger self. For me, it’s for my younger self. “I used to be free. I used to be seventeen…”I used to be seventeen. Now you’re just like me.”
You really have to listen to it. There’s a melancholic repetition of notes that never really resolves. It makes the song feel, I dunno, epic. Or just too sad. Or too correct.
I’m nearly feeling like myself again, after the surgery. I’m back to my household chores: laundry and vacuuming.
I’m becoming more comfortable in my body. I’ve been feeling really good about myself.
And then I took a shower tonight.
I still have steri-strips on my sutures. Or my suture areas. It’s not over yet, you know. I still don’t have range of motion in my shoulders. I still have some kinda gross scabs where my drains were. Fuck. It was only a week and a half ago that I lost my breasts.
I just happened to be listening to this song before I got in the shower. I was singing it to myself while looking down at my scars. I kept thinking, you know, seventeen year old Christina realized she was gay. She came out. And it was fucking hard. Of the most traumatic things to ever happen to me, it still ranks among the top 3. For years, it was the worst thing I ever experienced. And I kept thinking, you know, if I could talk to my 17 year old self, what would I say? I would say: It gets better… as far as the sexuality stuff goes. But. It also gets worse. You’ll have a tiny baby. You’ll finally get boobs when you’re 27 (after eating and drinking too much in Alaska) and then lose them when you’re 40.
As if 40 isn’t a hard age, anyway. I’m literally half way through my life. If I’m lucky. If I would’ve never met my biological mother, I would’ve never known to go to the doctor to get the ole’ boobies checked out. Being me, I would’ve never gone until something felt really wrong. And then, who knows. But I can’t really think like that because, here I am, in this reality.
I’m still in pain, but I pretend I’m not. My chest aches constantly. I mean, it’s not a sharp pain, just a constant, dull ache. There is a lump of skin that now exists in my armpits where it didn’t before. My arms rub against it on both sides. I can’t feel half of my right armpit because a nerve was cut. I can’t really feel most of my chest, especially around the sutures. I’ll never get that back. It feels weird to shave my armpits. I can’t really tell where the razor is. My body is changed forever in so many ways.
But. It’s okay.
This is me now:
I look good. I look fit. When I look at myself now, I can’t even picture what boobs look like on my body. What are they, anyway?
Tonight I went through my bras. I kept three sports bras. I don’t really know why. I guess my drawer just looks too empty without them. I’ll never need to buy an expensive, tight fitting one for rugby. I am keeping a few thin ones for swimming, and some other, cotton ones for an occasion that I can’t imagine yet. Maybe tank tops?
I’ve been out in the world to buy groceries and eat dinner. Without a bra. There are times I reach up to scratch my shoulder and notice there’s no bra there. I’m like, that’s sexxxxyyyyy. And then, I’m like. no. There’s nothing on my back, either. No racer back sports bra. I feel…free. I feel naughty. I feel… I don’t know. I just feel different. I feel lighter. I can’t wait for summer and to feel less sweaty.
Another weird thing is my sternum is really out there. I’m not used to anything really touching that part of my chest, but now, when I hug, it’s the first thing to hit someone else’s body. It’s such a strange sensation. And there are divots in my chest where my breast tissue was. It’s just ribs and skin. That’s the void I keep talking about.
I guess that’s it for now. I’m doing good. I feel okay except when I listen to Sharon Van Etten, but that was true before all of this, too.
If you’re not into that kind of music, here’s a nice, new-ish country song to let you know my feelings. Some days you just breathe in. Just tryin’ to break even.
So, seventeen year old Christina: it gets better, but harder in different ways. And so much better in different ways.
It will all be worth it.
Some days you’re livin’/like you’ll never die.