It’s 2:30 in the morning and I can’t get back to sleep. I woke up with a sinking feeling as if I’d just emerged from a nightmare. I’m feeling smothered by an unusually low feeling, uncharacteristic of the past weeks where I’d been overtaken by gratitude and positivity for everything and anything.
Yesterday all the flesh colored tape that had been covering and protecting my two incisions had come off, enabling me to see the scars in their entirety for the first time. For almost six weeks, flesh-colored “steri-tape” and band aids created an illusion that I had never been cut open and had no scars to bare. Somewhere in my mind, maybe I’d been pretending to be born with this flat, male chest. But now, here were the bright red scars I was to live with for the rest of my life, revealing the full extent of what I had done.
Staring in the mirror, I couldn’t look away. I have read that it is normal to go through a critical, “nit-picky” stage in recovery so I assume that is where I am stuck like tar right now. My scars were symmetrical and smooth, my nipples even and well-placed but still, the scars felt too curved, too feminine? Were my nipples too big? Had the incisions been made too high? Would the scar end up laying at the correct location just below the pec muscles once I built up some muscle?
So yes, I think I am just in that critical phase but I just kept critiquing my new reflection in the mirror trying to “eyeball” the symmetry, placement, and aesthetic appeal, mentally measuring with precision, every detail with hyper awareness, transposing the mental image of a male- born chest over my chest in the mirror to assess success. The curved scars were like a train wreck I could not look away from.
I still saw breasts.
The scars were an outline of where they had been, highlighting their previous existence as if to keep me from being truly free of them. The scars were the skeleton remains of my past body parts and they were haunting me.
I looked like I’d been chopped up and sewn back together. What happened was exactly that! Even through the excruciating pain and discomfort (that remains even until now, only transforming in sensation but not remitting), and recovery, I hadn’t thought about it like that. What happened in that 3-hour operation was time lost forever. But now, the bright red scars and hauntingly curvy lines shoved reality in my face in full force.
These scars are to follow me for the rest of my life. There is no way to change or tinker with their placement. I wasn’t expecting to be this shocked.
Begging for patience is where I’m at once again which is pretty much my default existence these days.
Surely one day I will be proud of these scars. Surely, they will serve as a reminder of my bravery and patience. Just like everything else in life, they will fade. It’s way too early to start contemplating “final results”. If they don’t turn out perfect, I’ll just be imperfect like everybody else, allowing the freedom of refusing to hold onto a perfect ideal. Perfection is fiction. What a futile effort it would be to hang onto something so fictitious!
But right now, I lay back on my floor as the light from one candle flickers over my chest. My chest is still so tight, feeling like it might burst open at the incisions at any moment. Sore nipples, tender scars, split second zaps of pain, numb but hyper sensitive skin and one big cloud of UNKNOWN bearing down on me, testing my strength and ability to forgo reassurance. Longing for respite.
Looking at myself hurts.
Then finally, after almost 6 weeks of waiting for them, two tears fall, one after the other, sliding ever so gracefully, and with the slightest hesitation they pause at the edge of my skin then disappear forever into the darkness of my room, and I cry.
Has one insecurity just morphed in a subtle Kafkaesque kind-of-way, into another?