Battle of the Body

She lay upon her bed, the only sound is the gasps of air as she sobs. Praying for sleep, she found none. She just wanted to make sense of the emotional pain that she had been feeling for as long as she can remember.

Freak, Fatty, Nerd, Worthless. The words rang repeatedly in her mind. No, she wasn’t being bullied, or maybe she was, but if she was, she was the bully and the bullied.

Her mind began to race, she was inundated with ideas, and it was just an impulse when she went to the kitchen, took the knife, and wildly slashed at her arms. In a flurry of activity and pain she felt the great release that comes with self-harm.

She had managed to turn the emotional pain that she couldn’t understand into physical damage that she could see and make sense of. ¬†The endorphin rush was short, and the blood stains told her that she better hide the damage. She ran to her room to hide the knife as she cried for the stinging of the of the cuts.

Little did she know that her mind was hiding the knife for future use. She swore out loud that she would never do this again, as she placed the blade in her night stand drawer.

Washing up the evidence she had placed upon her body she allowed the tears of pain to turn to continued sobs.

As you read this, maybe you imagine a broken family, a victim of sexual assault or some other sort of crime, maybe even a mental patient.

Not once did you consider that maybe she’s just a normal girl, with normal emotional growth. Not once did you consider that her scars are caused by inappropriate coping skills. Not once did you consider how you might help her.

Advertisements

It’s that time of year again.

So, here it is, Groundhog’s Day, my ex-husband celebrates being half a century old, and me, I’m just getting my boobies smooshed in a huge, obnoxious machine that will decide if I’m okay.

My first step is into the hospital lobby, where I say my name and that I’m there for a mammogram, my voice echoed due to yet another remodeling project. Blushing I looked toward the waiting area and watched as half a dozen faces turned away to avoid eye contact with me. Good, I thought, I’m not thrilled about being here anyway, so who cares what others think, I just hope they don’t remember me.

The receptionist asked me to have a seat among the half dozen people. As I walked to the nearest empty seat an elderly gentleman eagerly yells, “Hello” to me, and I feel self-conscious. Is he a dirty old man wondering if he can do my exam??? I avoid all eye contact as I politely return his greeting and sink into the chair, immediately turning my attention to my phone with desperate prayers for some sort of alert to help me avoid further conversation.

A few minutes later I am called to registration where the lady and I joke about my upcoming testing. It’s okay, I always joke with her, so it’s not that offensive.

Slowly, I walk the long hall to the Betty Ford Breast Services. Psh, they actually have breast services? How quaint? Or should I say, how forward thinking as judging from my cancer scare last year I do believe my breasts have a mind of their own.

Pushing the door open I enter and am greeted by yet another employee who takes my paper work from registration and gives me a couple of forms to fill out. A television plays on the opposite wall, conversation about Groundhog’s Day of course. I don’t care though, because I’m beginning to fear a repeat of last year’s mammogram results.

The lady at the desk walks me back, no instruction is needed, she recognizes me from last time, and last time before, and so on. The nervousness is creeping into my stomach as I undress from the waist up and put on a half gown. Placing my items into the locker I walk around the corner, where again a television is on, but I still don’t care.

The lady before me comes out of the mammography room sniffling, I remember when that was me, just 12 months ago, and I want to give her a hug, but I’m braless and that would just be weird. As she goes around the corner to change I can still hear her tears, it is like a waterfall in the woods, but I don’t know what to say. My own nervousness is now creeping up to my throat, and as I swallow saliva I begin to choke, my coughing making her tears seem silent as I gasp for air, and still, I’m alone, no one to comfort me, or even bring me a glass of water.

I gather what is left of my self-control I again listen to her tears turning to just shy of sobs. Then, she appears in front of me, with the largest fake smile I have ever seen, for her tear stains were unhidden, and all I could say is, “I hope that you have a wonderful day.” What a stupid thing to say under the circumstances. It certainly wasn’t what I was thinking, I should have told her … the chances, the percentages of positive biopsies, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t do that, because I remember, last year, when they ran the numbers by me and all I could think is, “Yeah, but I lost 100% of my mother to breast cancer.”

Yeah, I know her fears, and it was all I could think about as the technician squeezed the monstrous machine onto my delicate breasts and told me to hold my breath. What about her? Who is holding their breath with her as she awaits her results? Who will hold their breath with me?