As I sat with my niece, who also happens to be my stylist, a few weeks ago, I said let’s do bangs. Really my choice was bangs, or Botox, to hide the wrinkles that seem to be appearing on a weekly basis on my forehead.
It’s been five years since my wasband left, and during that time, I feel like I’ve aged ten-fold – I am only 43 years young, but feel like at times, I’m much older, with the wrinkles to prove it.
But the awesome thing is that with age also comes lessons learned. Learning to love myself for me, and realizing that in life, we all have our scars.
So as not to be disingenuous, I have done Botox before. And it did make me feel great at the time but, then the wrinkles eventually came back. So now, I accept them and realize that every wrinkle is a part of my journey.
As a breast cancer survivor, like Humpty Dumpty, I’ve been pasted back together again – literally. Twelve years ago, I had my mastectomy with reconstruction and received the added bonus of a tummy tuck out of the deal (TRAM flap reconstruction, i.e. taking my mommy fat from my stomach and using that to build me my new breasts), which also left a smiley face scar spanning from hip bone to hip bone.
After my cancer, I eventually became comfortable with my scars and with me –the me that no one could see – my husband at the time was so supportive and loved me, scars and all. I was confident and comfortable with the new me, physically, with my scars. I mourned losing my breast early on, and wondered if I would feel like a complete woman, but the new breast in its place became a part of me. I have realized that we are so much more than our breasts, our scars and our outward appearance. It’s what one fellow survivor called our “inner cleavage” and we all have it. It’s the confidence that comes when my own outer beauty early on didn’t seem so beautiful anymore because of my scars. It’s that inner spirit, that inner cleavage, that was daring me to keep living – the beauty that exits when everything else is stripped away.
Finding my inner cleavage allowed me to not only survive but thrive after my cancer. That was, until my wasband left me for my good friend and neighbor. I realized that sometimes in life, finding that inner cleavage is hard and can seem impossible. In life sometimes, just when you think you are confident with who you are, something or someone will knock you to your knees, creating a cycle of self-doubt, confusion and pain that will leave you feeling less than beautiful, on the inside and outside.
For me, I was facing life, with my scars, on my own. Here I was, almost 40, and now faced with being single for the first time in my life since I was 15 years old, with my scars and all. I was so scared. I never had to worry before about someone accepting and loving me with my scars. I was a complete mess. Negative self-talk filled my head. Would anyone else ever accept me and my scars? I was alone– but eventually, over time, learned to find my inner cleavage again and through that process, realized I wasn’t lonely, I loved who I was and someday, when I was ready, would find someone who also loved me, scars and all.
So here I am, 43, with my battle scars, but with each year, they are fading. I also currently have a complete food group going on – including a mini muffin top that refuses to go away, cottage cheese that seems to be permanent, and those pesky stretch marks from having my son Brandon. But I love who I am today and accept that. I am much more than my boobs, my wrinkles, my scars, my buffet of a body. You too are much more than your boobs or your wrinkles – and I would challenge each of you to find your own inner cleavage.
The fact is that I will never look like I did in my 20’s when my wasband married me. This doesn’t mean I can’t take care of myself, and do what I want and need to in order to feel good about myself. But it also means that I need to stop being so hard on myself – accepting me for who I am and loving all of me. Only then, am I truly free to love others.
I will always have scars, and yes, even a few food groups which comprise my body. They are all a part of me, I’m not ashamed, I’m not perfect, I am me, with my buffet of a body, my wrinkles and yes, my scars. And you shouldn’t be ashamed either.
We all have our scars, particularly after the painful, gut-wrenching process of divorce. Some of these scars are physical, some emotional and we have to face them and learn how to deal with them in our own way while being honest with ourselves and others.
After finding my inner cleavage yet again, and learning to love ME again, I’ve been lucky enough to have met someone who also accepts me for who I am, scars and all and for that, I am blessed.
All these years later, my scars are still here, some seen, some unseen but they are a part of who I am, they don’t define me. I have learned from them and grown because of them, but they don’t paralyze or define who I am as a person and I won’t let them. I still catch myself at times being insecure with my scars, whether it’s my physical scars from my cancer or my emotional scars from my divorce and that’s something that I will continue to work on.
And on days when I have those thoughts, I am quickly brought back to reality. I am 43 years young, ALIVE and here. So for now, I will stick with the bangs, no more Botox for me, love my buffet of a body and continue to love me for who I am. I would challenge each of you to love the REAL YOU. Stop being so hard on YOU and remember that you are be YOU tiful, inside and out.