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Saturday, March 23, 2013


from Growing Up and Liking It!

When I was pretty small, maybe three, I was playing at the playground, waiting for my turn on a new exciting zip line-ish piece of equipment. When it was my turn, this other kid jumped in front of me. His mom stopped him, and scolded, "Let this little boy go first!"

She was talking about me.

Now, I admit I had that 80's borderline-unisex haircut. And it was during a phase when I refused to wear anything but sweatsuits.  So it wasn't insane that she mistook me for a boy.

But still, I was incensed. In my memory, I cried out indignantly "I'm a GIRL!" before shooting away on the zip line. I was so sure of what I was.

Breast cancer and its treatments have a way of messing with that, with your conception of who you are, with gender identity being a huge part of it. The low point was sometime in February.  I had no breasts, got no period. I still had the JP drain dangling hideously from my side. I stopped wearing head scarves and was sporting hair the length of a number one buzz. Makeup was a thing of the distant past, eyebrows were thick fuzzy new growth. I wore men's undershirts as tops, because the greasy cream I used for radiation burns ruined my real clothes.

I'm not saying I felt like a boy, just that I didn't feel like a girl. It was like I traded in my gender for a new identity, that of a sexless sick person.

Then, after 9 1/2 weeks (I know there's a joke in there somewhere) of having the drain, I convinced? guilted? my surgeon into taking it out. The same day, I got my period.

I had this weird urge to tell everyone I knew that I had finally become a woman -- again. Luckily, I resisted. (Until now, I guess.) I was super happy. Two weeks later I got another period, and it was hellishly painful like they used to always be, and though I have access to loads of good painkillers, none of that stuff works like a hot water bottle and sweatpants and Doritos. It was shitty, but after so much new shittiness, I was glad to be back with the devil I know.

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