Friday, February 24, 2012
My Life as a Real Life Barbie Doll (the art of resilience)
It's been a while since I really sat down and talked about my battle with breast cancer. Not because I haven’t wanted to, but mostly because life has gone on around me and the fact that I have lived through this beast is not something the world cares to slow down to notice. I have been in the depths of grief many times during my struggle with breast cancer and I have felt the harsh, sometimes burning sting of those who feel the need to strike the wounded while they are still down. It’s sadly part of the game of life. I have always referred to these types as cancer bullies and they seem to strike, to come out from under rocks when you least expect them. It’s honestly a vicious go around we all live through. We pray to make it through, don’t we? We want to be blessed with long life, to be free of cancer and all her consorts, including the cancer bullies. We pray for healing, for enough money to pay the bills in the after math of cancer and for His mighty hand to hold us, carry us through our darkest hour.
Each need, each hurt, each rip at our hearts. It’s almost too much for us to accept blessings come from our pain, resilience; each trial, a moment of grace. We doubt life has any goodness to offer us when the beast comes to inflict her mark, or when once thought tried and true friends come to steal our joy, our hope or abandon us on the side of the road. Our desperate cries go up, our pleas resound, the rage inside bounces against the walls of our fear. When the betrayal of this life we thought we had all planned out fails us, and our greatest disappointments come calling how do we overcome? Resilience is not something that comes easy, but it is something we have to grab hold of if we really want to get through the hundred, possibly the thousand sleepless nights ahead and the anguish of our brokenness tearing us apart.
The truth is living my life as a misshapen broken shell of the woman I once was has been terrifying. I can’t count all the times I have felt lop sided, half of the woman I saw myself becoming, nothing more than half a plastic doll, wrapped up and waiting for life to begin. Growing up to be Barbie seems like a dream come true right? Not, exactly because the real, true life, lifetime story of Barbie is not an easy one. Sure I have a genuine Barbie breast (one side anyway) but the truth is that's not how we envision Barbie is it? We see her as perfect, in every way, not missing a boob or a nipple (even though she is actually nipple-less) that’s not our image of perfection, is it? In the war of the mind we don’t envision the battle with perfect as a boob-less, woman?
So we all see Barbie as the perfect, head to toe, image of a woman despite the fact she is far from actual perfection. How many of us honestly think about the fact that she has no nipples? Seriously, after living through breast cancer and all her disfiguring clawing, I think Barbie and I have a lot more in common than most of us realize. No, I don't have her polished skin, or what most see as a perfect figure but we do share the fact both of us are a bit lope sided. Seriously in real life do you think she could manage to balance her life with measurements like she has? I can tell you living with one real and one fake boob, I can barely manage to balance my own life, not to mention the craziness of shopping for a bra that actually fits. In Barbie’s world she has perfect, perky, non-movable and truth to told nipple less breasts. In the real world, outside of our impossible perfect imaginations, imperfect is perfection. Barbie in all her glory is really the picture of real life, imperfection at its best. Let me fill you in on life after breast cancer: Fake hair, drawn in eye brows, shiny, hard skin, joints popping in and out of socket and truthfully told missing nipples, hard, unmovable boobs that can crush anyone you hug or knock them out cold if you accidently swing around hitting them sideways! Not exactly perfection is it? But you know what, it’s exactly how Barbie is put together.
This year has been a tough one for me ( Summer 2011- present). I have been through some pretty rough surgeries ( September 2011) after a major fall and had to make some fairly tough decisions. Six years after losing my breast and 5 years after stepping into remission, I was finally able to complete my breast reconstruction. I was so close to having my breasts back (well not mine technically but as close to man’s vision of what I should look like as possible) until I woke up the morning before my final surgery and called it off. Why, I am sure you are not just asking me this question but screaming it at me! The truth is I was already whole. I didn’t need to risk one more surgery, a possible stroke, for the sake of nipples, of man’s idea of God’s perfection. The honest to goodness truth is I am complete, with or without breasts, boobs or nipples! I have never been nor will I ever be perfect, I am honestly about as imperfect as they come! I am me, Christina, simple, happy and loved by both a God who loves me and all my imperfections and by my husband who sees past every single scar, mishap, misshapen part of me. I am not resilient on my own, I can’t bounce back solely by my own merit. Yet by God’s grace I am on my way to being content, imperfect and forgiven, Barbie doll ideas and all. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but when it comes down to it, accepting our imperfections, every last one of them, is really what makes us human.
And now, after all this time, my life after breast cancer, I can see how deep, just how wide God’s love is for me, a love so faithful He doesn’t let go despite all my imperfections. What I know is this: when the Lord comes to take me home, to sweep me off my feet, lopsided, extremely imperfect body and all, I WILL be restored. I seriously have to chuckle just a little bit thinking of His trumpet sounding, my body rising, and my breast implant, falling, crashing, and hitting the ground. Talk about a sight!!! Man's idea of perfection won't make it through the gates, only our obvious imperfections made whole, perfect by His grace, will rise that day. And you know what? I am perfectly OK with that! So where am I going with my BIG imperfections speech, well straight ahead, forward, complete, whole, shorter, taller, missing a breast, gaining a nipple or not, Barbie doll perfect or imperfect and all, broken in so many ways, in places you may never know, but resilient and full of grace, a survivor ready to make the most of this beautiful life my God has wonderfully given me!