Emily had her reconstructive surgery today. It took more than 10 hours in the operating room and was, by all accounts, quite a procedure. I’m highly aware of the inordinate amount of space (both mental and physical) breasts take up in our household. When Emily was losing hers to cancer, Joita was developing hers, and I was more and more aware of hating mine. Losses, gains, on, off. So much mental energy devoted to these appendages of femininity.
People have skirted around, wondered, and a few have even asked straight out how I am feeling about Em’s surgery. It seems like I have both so many feelings and none at all. I know that sounds moronic, but that is truly how I feel. On a personal feeling level, I have no strong feelings. I have neither encouraged nor discouraged Emily regarding whether she should or should not have the reconstruction. I love her. She is more than the sum of her parts. At the same time, in regards to me, I feel a sense of awkwardness about the perceptions of others. I worry that people will look at our family and think us freaky. I want mine off. She wants hers on. The lengths we will go to achieve the desired results. It seems we have too much time on our hands if we are devoting this much time to the consideration of breasts. What message are we giving our children? And I fear the judgement of others.
On a trans-level, I feel more curiosity than cogent significant emotions. More like, yes, I really am different, ie: not a woman. I never regarded breasts as mine. In fact, I disassociated from mine completely. But when I did make some connection between me and my breasts, the feeling was unmistakable rage, loathing, shame. Mostly I have viewed breasts as ancillary, the body counterpart to a necktie. Pleasant enough looking just hanging there, but a completely useless (breast-feeding and keeping stains off a shirt front notwithstanding) accessory.
On a sociological level, my feminist sensibilities get touched on. We drove to the hospital to meet with the surgeon yesterday. The hospital has more recently been focusing on women’s health, cancer and breast reconstruction. The entire front of the building is glass and on the glass is a giant photo of a woman in a pool wearing a rather nondescript black one piece bathing suit and bathing cap. Enormous letters above her read: Restoring a woman’s sense of self. Now, I may place too little value on breasts, but I think equating them with a woman’s sense of self is a bit much. And the search for equilibrium continues.