If I Knew Then

I hate myself. Loathe may be a better word.

I loathe myself, but I'm not talking about my human being, my soul, my character. I'm talking about my appearance.

I wish I had looked in the mirror more. I wish I had been more aware of my beauty before it all.

I'd love to backtrack my life. I'd love to backtrack my body. You know, the old adage - "If I knew then what I know now..."

It sounds very vain, but until you've walked this journey, please don't judge.

My hair is never coming back. It's brutally thin. I wash it only once a week and never comb it because the hair just pours out in clumps. The first time, I had chemotherapy for four months and then my hair started to grow back. Now I take a chemotherapy pill everyday and will for the rest of my life, or until there's a cure. My hair is never going to rebound.

I paint on my eyebrows. I search for lashes upon which my mascara might adhere. Granted I barely ever have to shave my legs. So that's a bonus.

My nails don't grow. They are as thin as paper and peel off with everyday tasks. I had great nails.

My skin is dehydrated. It flakes. It bruises with the simplest bump.

I have misshapen breasts. One is built with the skin from my back. The other has a flat surface because it wasn't rebuilt with the skin from my back. I have no nipples. And I have a huge scar on my back from the reconstruction. (I do freak people out at the beach when they ask about the scar on my back and I tell them I was attacked by a shark. Gotta get some fun out of it all.)

My left armpit area is deformed from having total lymph node removal. So I could starve myself, be a waif and that armpit will always have a sutured pocket of skin that doesn't lie correctly against my body.

I rarely look in the mirror. I definitely don't look at myself naked in a mirror.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have spent hours in front of the mirror.

It's a vanity thing. But make no mistake, it's an identity thing, too.

Ir's hard to recognize your soul when your image is broken.


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