As I prepare myself mentally for top surgery I find myself reflecting back on the relationship I’ve had with my chest over the years. It’s been a complicated relationship to say the least, which I’m sure most of you can relate. At this point in my life I’m not hugely dysphoric about them, but I most definitely always know they’re there, in my way, protruding where I don’t want protrusions, and for all to see, declaring me female gendered whether I want that or not. Physically, they do bother me. Like I said, I’m very aware of them. I don’t want to be aware of them. If I focus on it, this awareness can give me pretty severe dysphoria. Some days I notice them more than others. On the days when I notice them the most I feel like they take up the whole room. I usually end up taking off my bra and putting on some loose layers to help soothe this feeling. I don’t know if it’s related but I’ve never been able to deal with close fitting shirts or scratchy fabrics against my skin. This is a big reason why I can’t deal with binding. The binder is tight, not just on my chest but around my back and my mid section as well. Even the ones that don’t bind all the way down are too much for me to deal with. I just can’t do it. So I’m forced to wear a bra, which I can deal with most days, or go with loose layers and let it all hang loose (my favorite system). But, I also can’t stand to get over heated and sweaty either so the days where I can actually do the layer thing are limited.
Back when I was a child, before puberty, I loved to go shirtless in the summer. As my chest started to develop breasts I tried to ignore them and pretend they weren’t really there. I continued to go shirtless at home until I was told to stop it. That was a sad day in my life. Still, I didn’t wear a bra even though I probably should have and continued to be in denial. One day my mom bought me a “training bra” and I actually liked it because it was loose and yet kept my budding boobage close to my body and stopped the bouncing that I hated so much. Eventually, though I got too big for the trainer and had to step up to a real bra. Mom took me to the local department store to get fitted for one. The first few they tried to put me in caused almost a violent reaction in me and I started to cry. These were bras that held the boobs up and pointed them out. My mom loved it.
I hated it. I burst into tears and couldn’t get that thing off of me quick enough. I would have ripped it off if I could. Finally the sales lady brought me one to try on that was padded and made them rounder instead of pointing straight out and I felt better wearing it. I still didn’t like it but I could handle it.
What made the whole breast thing worse for me was that I thought mine were ugly. They weren’t perky and small like other girls my age. Mine were saggy and droopy and big. I hated them. Not only could I not go shirtless anymore I couldn’t stand to go bra-less either. I had a huge phobia about anyone ever seeing my nipples so I always wore a padded bra. I eventually slept in my bra and only took it off to shower. I couldn’t stand to not have my bra on. I remember at sleep overs with my girl friends they would all strip down to their panties and put on a t shirt or nightgown to go to sleep in. I kept my bra on and just put a t shirt over it. This was how I slept at home as well. My friends gave me a hard time about this and told me I need to let them “air out”. NO! NEVER!! I couldn’t stand to see myself without a bra or to let anyone see me without one. I know this now to be dysphoria. It was pretty severe when I was a teenager. My bra was my binder and I couldn’t stand to see myself without it.
Somewhere along the way I got over this and started to enjoy letting them hang free. Still I think they’re ugly and can’t stand the idea of anyone seeing my nipples through my clothes. Usually at home I will go without my bra on the weekends unless we’re going out but I always have to have a soft t shirt or loose tank under a sweat shirt or something like that so I am not too aware of them.
I’m trying to have surgery to remove my baggy boobage in the next month or so (March 31, hopefully). My resistance to having surgery is complicated and I’m not sure I understand it fully. I think the biggest part of it is that my chest is the last vestige of femininity that the general public sees on my person. I feel like once my boobs are gone so will be my past as a lesbian and a woman. I know that the surgery can’t erase my past but it feels like it will definitely erase any last chance of being part of the lesbian community. I mourn this loss. But, I’m also not actively part of a lesbian community anymore. It’s been 20 years since I really participated in anything other than a lesbian cruise we took about eight years ago. It’s the price I have to pay to be myself. I know this. And I’m willing to let that all go. It’s hard for me to fathom a future without breasts. They’ve become part of my struggle. I wonder if one can get addicted to pain or suffering and actually miss it once it’s gone. Or is it just such a relief that you wonder why you waited so long? I’m guessing it’s the latter. I worry about getting depressed after surgery. I have such strong feelings towards my chest that I wonder how I’ll be emotionally around having them removed. I have a feeling that it will be a complicated rush of emotions and I’m hoping it will make me cry, because I sure could use a good cry.