Today I gave a pep talk to a woman I admire in hopes that some of my own life experience might help her. She is having problems with both men and women who feel that it is okay to say cruel and hateful things to her simply because they disagree with her. The tone of her initial post felt like she was about ready to throw in the towel on doing the work she enjoys because of these hateful people. So I posted the following to her:
I want to tell you a story and I hope this helps you get your feet under you a bit better. Several years ago, back before I was a skeptic and before I had a decent sense of self worth, I had a boob job. I hated the way they looked after breastfeeding two kids and I thought that, as I approached the age of 40, it would make me feel better about myself.
I ended up developing necrosis due to unconfirmed surgical complications and I lost both of my nipples and areolae. I don’t know if there’s a worse experience than watching your own intimate body parts rot away but if there is, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
There’s much more to the story which you can read on http://boobcast.com if you are interested.
About a year after my chest healed, (I was severely deformed and required two reconstruction surgeries which i have long since had, to rousing success) I was finally in a mental state to start writing about what happened to me. I was bound and determined to write about it because if I DIDN’T write about it publicly, then, in my mind, the hack that did this to me would win.
That wouldn’t do.
There were SO many times when I had to stop in the middle of writing a post and go have a good, long cry. But I did it. I did it because I REFUSED to let my situation dictate my life. I refused to let what others told me change what I truly thought was the right thing to do.
Boobcast has made a real difference in women’s lives. I get regular emails telling me as much. I talk to women regularly who are scared and in need of reassurance and advice. I’m so very grateful I can do that.
When I was a little girl my father told me to “Stand and fight if you believe you’re right”. I learned determination from my mother who, after a motorcycle accident that left her in ICU for six months, taught herself to walk again when doctors said she never would.
Believe me when I tell you that I know it’s hard. I know it’s disheartening and some days you just want to give up and let the world go to Hell in its own little monogrammed handbasket. And some day you may decide you’ve had enough and that’s okay.
But please don’t let THEM make that decision for you.
I really hope that helps her. She’s doing good work in the skeptical and critical-thinking community and I would hate to see her give up because of all the hate mail and awful things people say about her in the blogosphere.
Unfortunately, this good deed of mine seems to have had some emotional backlash. I realized that even though Boobcast is doing good work, I am still in mourning for my loss. It has been four years as of yesterday since that first surgery and it still hurts emotionally. Not to the degree it used to, but it’s still a visceral pain. I feel nauseous remembering what I went through. I have tears in my eyes remembering what it was like and I wonder if I will ever completely heal emotionally from this.
I have had people suggest that I just walk away from Boobcast for a while. I can’t do that. Women email me regularly asking questions and seeking advice. I know what it’s like to be that terrified so abandoning the thing I have created here is not an option.
The upside is that where there were once great, wracking sobs, there are now just tears and a dull ache. Four years seems like forever and a single heartbeat at the same time. I guess I’m healing. They keep telling me that healing takes time. It’s just taking so long. I know that it will never be truly over because I will always bear the scars of reconstruction as a reminder. I will also always be here for others going through this nightmare.
I can’t abandon my post as long as I’m needed.
It has also been suggested that I start talking to women’s groups about what I have experienced. With the settlement I have, I’m not sure I can do that, but I’m looking in to it. The recent cease and desist letter I got about my comments on the Complaints Board scares the Hell out of me. We’re having a lawyer look at that to make sure that it only pertains to the settlement and not the case itself. If that is the case and it only pertains to the settlement, I will probably start doing that.
In the mean time, life continues on. I still need to have one last round of tattooing done and hopefully that will be it for the medical stuff. I’m thinking that perhaps I’ll do it in November or December, depending on the tattooists schedule. I’ll post when I have something concrete.