I have one breast. A single large D-cup breast. This is not something you see every day, if ever.
The other day I noticed a lot of people staring at my chest. At what wasn’t there. I wondered when is it too much? When is staring invasive and rude? Where is the line?
Maybe there is no line. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with staring at something you don’t understand. Maybe that’s how we try to make sense of things we see.
Yes, sometimes I feel self conscious, embarrassed, and exposed. But people shouldn’t have to act as if it’s common and something seen every day, because it’s not. Having only one breast is not normal. There is extreme pressure for women to look a certain way, and when we go against that grain it is glaringly obvious. I made a decision that I’m 100% comfortable with but that doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings about it, too. Big feelings.
I have never seen another woman with one breast, but I know they’re out there. I know I’m not the only one. There is some comfort in knowing that I am not blazing some new path here. I am on a similar path as many, many women before me who don’t hide that they have one breast, even if I have never seen them or met them.
So it’s ok to stare. It’s ok to double take. It’s ok to be confused. It’s ok to wonder why someone has one breast. It’s not rude to stare. Stare if you need to stare, take it in, and learn something from it. Ask questions if you want to. Don’t be ashamed to look. It’s ok.
One Valentine’s Day I framed a quote that Amelia and I love: Maybe everything is already ok. It’s a good one, and true most of the time, but it’s work. It’s not putting your head in the sand or plugging your ears. It’s meeting things head on, acknowledging them, understanding them, and moving on.
Acknowledging the past is an important part of healing from any kind of trauma. I’m not one to put on a happy face on and skip through life with one breast exclaiming, “Everything is great!” No. Now that chemo is behind me I will dig deep into my feelings about losing a body part, an amputation.
When I look back at other traumatizing things that have happened in my life (and there have been a lot – I could write another dozen blogs), I am grateful. I wouldn’t be where I am in this world without these traumas because I chose to grow through them and in spite of them. I will grow through cancer and my mastectomy as well, but not without some work. Not dealing with the emotions of my mastectomy is like emotional suicide. If I ignore it, it doesn’t go away.
All these questions and feelings have started popping up about walking around with one breast: Am I really going to march around in a tank top publicly when it gets warm? What do I wear when I swim? Who the hell cares? How do I support the left one? I need to design my own uni-boob bra! I’d say about 80% of me doesn’t give a hoot about how I look publicly; I’m just glad to be alive. But 20% of me is insecure and full of shame and way too concerned about what others see.
There are options, I’m just not interested in them. Like “foobs,” that is, fake boobs, the inserts you put into your bra. Or reconstruction, which I opted to not do. These are very personal choices and there are no right answers. Dealing with what I now have works best for me, learning to accept my body in its most natural state, even though there is less of it now. Maybe everything is already ok.