In keeping with social media’s Throwback Thursday posts, I’m reaching way-way back all of six months with a picture of what I used to look like. If it were Throw-Yourself-off-a-Bridge Thursday, I’d be posting a picture of myself today.
In the last four months, I’ve gained at least 15 pounds on a 5’1 frame, I’m cube-ball bald, my face has a lovely rosacea rash, my eyes have water spouting from them, my complexion is paler than pale, I have almost no lashes or eyebrows.
Now, I know everyone wants to give me a huge pass on how I look and I’m constantly reminded that when this is all over I can be an even better version of myself. I’m particularly lucky that my guy tells me every day that I’m beautiful. And friends are being very kind about my new cherub-ness. And then there are these well-meaning comment…”You really look healthy!” “It’s good to have extra weight right now.” And my favorite, “Just be happy you’re not throwing up.” All well intentioned, for sure.
But right now, I feel like I’m trapped in someone else’s body. It seems to be a common theme among breast cancer patients. I feel like I’ve been blown up with air, like the Macy’s Day Parade balloon version of myself. I feel like Miss Piggy.
It probably doesn’t help that feeling attractive has never come easy. I was raised in a family where being smart and accomplished were lauded – not what you look like. I was also raised in a super WASPy neighborhood where all the girls had straight blonde hair and perfect teeth. As one of the few ethnic looking Jews I got called Jew nose, Frizz head, Pippy Longstocking (had freckles) and Harpo. Later in life, while raising my daughters who are truly gorgeous, I often heard: “Your girls are so beautiful. Do they look like their dad?” Truth. Word, Church!
It took a few years and dozens of therapy sessions to learn I had body dysmorphia most my life and it wasn’t until I was 50 that I finally could accept that I WAS pretty. Maybe even a “knock out”. Well, I’d be pretty happy right now if someone could knock me out and wake me up in about a year.
I know it’s what’s inside that counts, but inside my stomach hurts and inside there are chemicals playing Mortal Combat with my cells. I do hope, however, that my spirit, heart and faith will be appearing on the cover of O Magazine any day now.