About a month ago I found a lump in my right breast. Just a blatant, defiant, 3 cm, hard, round…different than normal tissue. My stomach dropped. Fear looked me in the eye.
I have a dear friend that I’ve reconnected with just prior to this finding. She shared her breast cancer story with me. Brutal. Heart-wrenching. Courageous. Many words come to mind. Truth is, I didn’t want those words, even the “courageous” one. After many weeks of uncertainty, I finally got confirmation yesterday that this lump is a benign cyst. The doctor said something about menopausal hormones, and more things… and that these cysts do not turn into cancer. That was what I had been praying to hear. In the weeks of waiting, I have had some growing to do.
The theme of my life lately has been “content while contending”, one hand holding Thankfulness, the other hand holding Dreams. Both very true and alive and worth pursuing. (Never mutually exclusive by the way). So, here are my thoughts to those that care to hear. My lesson of “content while contending” in relation to what I think about my body.
Sometimes we can easily think of our bodies as an expression of ourselves instead of housing our true self. What do I mean by that? We can let the image of our body steal from the reality of who we are at the core. That is the possible travesty. My dad has always said “pretty is as pretty does” reminding us that our actions make us beautiful. or not. But in our culture, the appearance of our body has a high value. I guess I’m saying that we can be stripped of this “expression” (body) so easily. Aging, illness, injury…can take this perception and leave us feeling empty. expressionless. I have wrestled because I think the body should be celebrated. Not idolized, but appreciated as the gift it is; a life holder. So, I have been confronted with my disgruntled attitude. about my body. I’ve made comments about what I would change if I could. Not once while thinking I might have breast cancer did I bemoan that I would like to have my boobs any different. Not once.
If someone asks you the question, “what would you physically change about yourself if you could? What would you say? I had my list. Do you have yours? Here’s my big advice. Burn the list. Destroy it. Purposefully find a place for it’s ashes. Trust me these lists just creep back up and create opportunity for daily burial ceremonies and ash throwing.
We need to let the truth sink deep. Our body is beautiful. Intricate. phenomenal. Whether we’re 5, 12, 21, 46 🙂 or 97. I’m daring us to stand naked in front of our bathroom mirror and smile. Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror with kindness? Not allowing criticism. You can actually do that. Take in the beauty of every part of you. The strength, the softness, the giving power. Stay there until you are looking at yourself with admiration, awe, and thankfulness. (I can see it now, toddlers and maybe even husbands knocking at the bathroom door to see what is taking you so long in there?) Just stay. Stay through the tears. Stay through the angst. I have a theory that in this exact mindset, we will choose to be kinder to our bodies, choose wiser for our nutrition, exercise harder because we’re ADDING to health and beauty , and not because we are pursuing illusive beauty that fades with the next commercial (that changes the definition).
There are women who have had mastectomies, parts of them cut away in an effort to cling to life.That is beauty in it’s highest form – sacrifice. There are people who have lost limbs, eyesight, hearing, movement…they are very aware of the gifts our bodies give to us. Loss does that. accentuates truth. bores deep into ourselves what we need to know. They also will look into the mirrors too and find the Beauty and see. It is always there.
So my dears who long to love more deeply, start with how you love and care for your own body. Go find a mirror.