I’ve made several big decisions this year, each of which I pray last a lifetime. The first of which I’ve been afraid to talk about until I was cleared by a doctor, the second decision I made was because a doctor didn’t say anything to me, and the third decision I’ve made is because an intuitive told me it was the only way–my gut also tells me she’s right.
Self-love has meant many things for me, and at many times; only last year, it meant radical self-acceptance, which meant completely accepting myself, my body, and my truths for what they were–not trying to change my divine nature. Full on surrender. This year, self-love has taken on a new meaning, one which is more aware of my physical body–my Earth Suit–and giving it exactly what it needs to feel as close to myself as possible.
At twenty-two, a very impressionable age in my life, I had a breast augmentation; I wanted to please a guy I was dating who had told me, “You’re not a real woman until you get breasts,” which I didn’t understand until he gestured a much larger size with his hands. When I changed my body for him, not only did I risk my life in a dangerous operation (I have a blood clotting disorder called Factor V Leiden), I also had to carry that decision I made for him around with me, everywhere I went, even after we went separate ways.
To this day–it’s been eight years–I wear that decision on my chest. What was once exciting and joyous, even after we split up, is now a sad story of disempowerment tucked too close to my heart, aching for release. As many times as I’ve shared my story in word and in speech, I could never physically release my implants–unless I scheduled the surgery–so I learned to practice radical self-acceptance and got really good at it, fully accepting the decision I made many years ago. Until now, doctors had suggested it was always too dangerous to go under the knife again. Recently, I met with a hematologist who gave me the go ahead, to pursue the breast explant. I want all of me to belong to all of me again, so I have chosen to reverse a decision I made when I was younger and reclaim my entire self. I’m taking back me, my purity, and my highest self.
The implants have been physically painful and useless, especially in the last couple of years. It’s difficult to live my active, outdoor lifestyle without feeling the weight of an old decision, pulling down on my shoulders, neck, and back when I go for a run over three miles; they move uncomfortably under my pecs when I pushup or do a vinyasa in yoga; I’m even aware of them when I sleep: I have a hard time sleeping on my side because my breasts suffocate each other. This may sound like my husband’s dream, but he’d take a happy wife over breast suffocation (almost) any day.
When I travel to cities with higher elevations–like Santa Fe–my implants squeeze tight, like water bottles on an airplane, and I can feel them shift around when I move my arms up to hug someone; they make suction noises under my chest, which is embarrassing and frustrating as all get-out. I’d have to explain that I wasn’t farting when I hugged my friends, but that in fact, the noise was coming from under my chest. Thankfully, people love to laugh about farts. The positive reinforcement of their laughter satisfied the rising shame like an antacid, quelling the pain temporarily with laughter.
When I look in the mirror, I can feel through my imagination; my body has rejected the big balls under my chest; they no longer serve my highest self; they no longer bring joy to my thirty year old body, a body wiser and with experience. They no longer are part of Emily, and yet I carry them around still, like a wart too lazy to burn off, like a 1.75 pound dumbbell necklace, like an old story I avoid.
I want my breasts to match who I am and I want my physical body to feel healthy, especially when I’m swimming, paddling, or surfing in bikini tops, running in a sports bra, climbing mountains, and practicing yoga–I haven’t been able to jump rope without complaining for eight years because the weight of the implants kill my neck and shoulders. Being active is my lifeblood; I crave the outdoors, as you have seen with my pictures from Pretty Brave Adventures, my women’s week inspiring confidence, courage and connection. So to reclaim my physical body, I am meeting with a surgeon to see if I’m a candidate for a breast explant.
If I am able to get an explant safely, I’ll likely plan the procedure as soon as I can. I’m sharing this because I believe many of us have made decisions for other people that we carry around with us like useless bricks in a backpack; they’re dead weight carried around by our highest selves; they’re the one string left to cut before we can feel free. These decisions can be physical (tattoos, implants, plastic surgery, etc) or even emotional weight (decisions for others, violence, doubt, suicide, rape). We have to let go of the weight of these old stories that obscure the joy we so want our lives.
I’m taking back my body. I forgive myself for making a decision that brought me temporary joy at a younger age. I believe we should be able to change our bodies if we want to: I have a friend who was a victim of domestic violence, had her nose violently broken by a man who beat her, and finally decided to fix the bump in her nose after all the years of remembering the tragic event, every time she looked in the mirror. She took back her joy. I’m not saying we have to physically fix our old stories, but rather, we should take back our highest selves whenever we have the chance, in whatever way possible. We have to let go of the dead weight that no longer serves us, even if that means accepting the old story and moving on. It’s our divine right to feel freedom in our Earth Suits, and as often as possible.
Our Earth Suits belong to each of us, the God of us, and no one else: not our partners, our western culture, not social media, not our parents, and not our friends or foes and their opinions. We have to make decisions that make us happy, instead of living with something we don’t want, trying to please everyone else. We have to start listening to what each of us really wants, and not the way we think the world wants us to be. We are each qualified to be incredibly and uniquely beautiful just the way we are; not a magazine or diet or social media post or TV show could ever validate us more than our authentic uniqueness can. I love myself most when I am so me; and I love my friends the most when they are so them: unique, quirky, hilarious, honest, generous and supportive.
We should all forgive–ourselves and each other–and live with a young child’s mind: not holding grudges, not thinking about anyone else’s opinions, just going with the flow and getting as much joy out of life as possible.
I don’t worry about other people’s judgment or opinions because I’m acting with my highest self in mind; it’s my human right to choose joy. For me, physically releasing my implants is a decision I’ve made, to love myself, to have a body that’s mine again; a body that’s natural, and active, and completely me. I’m reclaiming Emily, which might be a surprise those who know me personally, because I’m already very me: wild, child-like, spiritual, and free, with the intensity of a German and stubbornness of a Taurus. But I’ll do just about anything for a good laugh, and joy.
To hear about the second big decision I’ve made out of self-love this year–a decision that was made because a doctor neglected to say something to me–come back next Tuesday, or subscribe to my newsletter and you’ll get it in your inbox next week. Thank you so much for your support.
Photos taken at Pretty Brave Adventures, Idaho, Summer 2016.