My Explant Story: Part 2
A friend asked me the other day, “What is the biggest lesson you have learned through this journey?”. My honest answer to that is that it is sort of like asking me what my favorite song is. There is no succinct, singular answer. I have learned so much already and am clear I will continue to discover new lessons along this path I have chosen, and I am really excited about that. But now that I am one week post-explant surgery and have hit some pretty big milestones (i.e. being able to shower and drive again), I am ready to share a few of those lessons with you all. After spending some time writing this, I actually discovered I have a lot more to share than I realized. So I am breaking this post up in two parts, that way I’m not forcing you to read a novel all at once. In no particular order, here is what I have learned so far…
You are so much more than just your body.
This is a big one. It’s a lesson that I think I have been learning since I was quite young. Or rather, I have been unlearning the belief that I picked up somewhere along the way that our entire worth exists in this package of cells we live in called a body. Your worth goes so infinitely beyond your physicality that it can honestly be hard to comprehend. You are vastly more important than any number on a scale, or size of your clothes, or reflection in a mirror. You are the collection of the love that you give and receive, the number of laughs in a day, the inspired ideas you have, the breaths you take, the joy behind your smile, the wisdom behind your eyes, and just about every other non-physical thing that makes you you. So while getting this explant surgery did make me feel much closer to my authentic self, I learned that whether I have implants or not was never a factor in the equation of my worth.
Beauty has nothing to do with what society has led you to believe it does.
All of the images that your mind has most likely been filled with that depict what beauty should look like are in all honestly, arbitrary and useless. They are the compilation of what
our Western society has currently deemed to be the most beautiful, and therefore the best. If you take a quick look at history, you will find that the ideals of beauty in any given society are constantly changing over time. Thin and frail is beautiful one day (or year or decade), and full and curvy is beautiful the next. There is no rhyme or reason to these standards, and since it wasn’t a unanimous vote across all humans, it can’t be the definitive truth. The point is, it’s pointless. Not beauty – beauty certainly isn’t pointless; it’s a glorious part of getting to live in the world we live in. What’s pointless are the standardized ideals of beauty. Which brings me to my next lesson.
You get to decide what beautiful means to you.
When I announced that I was going to have this surgery, I was overwhelmed with the amount of love and support that poured in my direction. But a number of people also expressed their concern. Not for the fact that I was going under the knife and they were worried for my well-being. The most common concern that they raised was, “Aren’t you worried about what they will look like after?”. As if it was inconceivable for a person to love their god-given body after they had experienced what it looked like when altered to fit the image of perfection. As if the female body doesn’t already go through countless physical changes throughout its existence and it’s impossible to love if there is any new flaw added to it. To those people, here is what I have to say: I didn’t do this for you. I did this entirely and wholeheartedly for me. I got the implants in the first place for you. I got them because I wanted to be beautiful in the way the world said I should be. I got them removed because I want to be beautiful in the way that I want to be. I finally decided to form my own unadulterated opinion of what beautiful looks like for me, and then I found the courage to honor it. And truthfully, I have never felt more comfortable in my own skin than I am beginning to feel now, just one week post-surgery.
You can’t do everything alone. You’re not meant to. As a human being, you need to ask for support.
Whoa. This one has been a really humbling one for me. It is really hard for me to ask for support, to admit I’m struggling or that I need help. Even just sharing my struggles and vulnerabilities with you guys after they’re over has been a lesson in itself. But where I am clear I am really challenged is breaking down my walls and being vulnerable in the moment when it’s happening. One thing I know for sure now is that undergoing major surgery is not something you should do without a support system. Sometimes even getting through a tough day at work can be enough to call in the troops. I am so thankful for the people who stepped in to support me even when I was too stubborn to ask for the help upfront.
If you are going through something and you aren’t quite sure what type of support you might need, reach out to those who have been through something similar. When I was thinking about making this huge decision, I stumbled across the Instagram account of a beautiful human named Emily Nolan. When I started following her last year, she was going through her own breast explant journey and I remember thinking how brave she was, but how I wasn’t ready for that yet. When I finally decided I was ready, I reached out to her with all kinds of questions, not knowing whether or not she would respond. Not only did she respond joyfully and compassionately, but her insights really helped to give me that last bit of courage I needed to move forward with my surgery (thank you Emily!). She even gave me her personal number in case I had more questions or needed support throughout my journey. Feeling that kindness, compassion and encouragement from a total stranger was the most humbling and magical feeling. It reminded me that we truly are all in this thing called life together, and we would do well to lean on each other more.
I’ve got a few more lessons that I want to share with you all, so check back next week for the next installment of my story. Let me know if you have specific questions that you want me to answer as well! And as always, thank you all so much for your love and support throughout all of this. xo, Megan