|from Growing Up and Liking It!|
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.