I thought it would be so much harder than this. I imagined I would have a colossal melt down when I looked in the mirror. I was sure I would cry and grieve and be horrified. I didn’t.
There is still some measure of shock when I look in the mirror. Shock isn’t the right word. Surprise, maybe? While I have long been disappointed at what I see when I look at myself, my breasts are one thing about my body that I actually liked. I have carried more weight than I want to, and have strongly disapproved of, if not hated my own body. Don’t get me wrong–my body has functioned well and been healthy–I have always been grateful for that. But my appearance has been less than I want and expect of myself. I have been discontent. Dissatisfied.
Now the one part of my physical body that I appreciated is gone, quite literally. In its place is something foreign, something man-made, and honestly, something quite ugly. It’s my skin, but not my body.
So why am I not devastated? Firstly, I know it’s going to get better. As the wounds heal and the reconstruction process continues, things will take shape and assume a more natural appearance. Second, I know this flesh is just my temporary dwelling place–when I reach Heaven, I will have a perfect body and all of this will pass away. The biggest reason I am okay is this: my friends, my family, and my husband love me for ME, not for my body or my appearance. The people to whom I mattered before are still here with me, changed though I am.
My husband has assured me, time after time, that I shouldn’t worry about him or his feelings about my body. I know he means it when he says he just wants me alive and well; the rest is details. He loves me and is committed to me no matter what.
As he helped me out of the shower last night (a lengthy and involved ordeal) I asked him “Did you imagine this all those years ago when you said ‘I do?'” “Nope” he said. “And if you knew, would you still have done it?” He laughed. “Yeah, I would.” I couldn’t have asked for a sweeter declaration of love and devotion from this man-of-few-words.
As I back up and look at this whole situation, I realize that it hasn’t been about breasts at all. It hasn’t been about body image or self-confidence. It’s not about how I look in the mirror or in my favorite outfit. It has been about fear.
Fear always presents itself in worst case scenarios and gigantic what-ifs. It puts thoughts in my head that I will hate my body even more after this. It tells me that I will be less attractive now. Fear says that everyone who sees me will know that I am altered and damaged. It says that my husband will no longer find me attractive, especially undressed.
Guess what? Fear is a liar. It comes from the pit of hell and the one who would destroy all things lovely. Fear is big and scary and life-threatening.
You know what else fear is? It’s a big fat wimp. The very moment you look fear in the eye, it’s gone. It simply can’t live on the same porch as Truth, the really big dog.
The night before my surgery, God showed me the love that surrounds me. He showed me the truth of how very much I am loved, regardless of my physical appearance or condition. Truth came in and fear was gone. That’s what gave me the courage to look in the mirror–and not lose heart.