Jamie's Blog

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Finding Myself, The Hard Way

A few years ago my husband and I went on a tropical vacation with some good friends. I looked forward
to adventures in food and culture, world class snorkeling, and requisite beach lounging. I dreaded,
however, the big reveal—the unveiling of my post C-section, post-lumpectomy, post-menopausal, lop-
sided, and droopy form. This was in sharp contrast to the other wife who descends from Peter Pan:
she doesn’t age. At 50 her skin was as smooth and unwrinkled as her tummy was tight, and she looked
fabulous in a bikini. Not only did I not wear a bikini, I shrouded myself in "figure-flattering" sarongs.
A few days later I looked through the photos from that trip, and searing shame cut a swath through my
heart, self-hatred boiled in my veins.
I hated myself? Moi? I am a psychotherapist, for crying out loud; self-esteem is my job! Clearly I was
not where I thought I was . . . or who.
I turned to an old friend who had learned a thing or two about self-esteem when she lost her foot in
a car accident. I lamented that even when I was young and Cindy-Crawford-thin I had always felt fat
and uncomfortable in my body. “I know exactly what you mean,” she exclaimed. “I was the same way,
always thin and pretty. I just wish I had been there.”
How much of my life had I squandered wishing and wanting to be something else or other? For what, to
find acceptance in the eyes of people who were likely seeking the same from me? I knew better than
that! I also knew that diet and exercise were not the answer, because I had done plenty of both, and here
I was. I vowed to myself (whoever that was) that come hell or high water I would figure out a way to love
my elusive self.
Little did I know that hell and high water would arrive in the form of a second breast cancer: bilateral
mastectomies with immediate DIEP reconstruction, seven surgeries in all; and that was the easy part.
Flashbacks to childhood abuse erupted weeks after the surgery and suddenly my quest for self-discovery
took a turn down Alice’s rabbit hole. Surgery had given me a girlish figure, a bikini body that was
meaningless to me now as I fought my way through PTSD.
Month after month, one battle after another I seized all of my courage, anger, and intelligence to give—to
myself—good things, the way I gave them to everyone else.
Things like mercy, patience, and genuine regard. Eventually, one new choice at a time, I proved to
myself that external changes never heal twisted beliefs. This hellish journey was a crash course in
choosing to believe . . . myself.

Friday, October 1, 2010


I signed up to STOP breast cancer before it STARTS. Have you?  

The goal of the Army of Women is to recruit ONE MILLION MEN AND WOMEN of all ages and ethnicities, including breast cancer survivors and those who have never had breast cancer.  They seek to match volunteers with research projects aimed at PREVENTION.

How you can get involved:·       

  • Join today at www.armyofwomen.org

  • Invite a friend at: https://www.armyofwomen.org/invitefriend

  • Update your Facebook status with the following:  "I signed up to STOP breast cancer before it STARTS.  Have you?  Join today at www.armyofwomen.org, then copy and paste this status update as your own." 

  • Tweet about the Army Of Women and to use the hashtag #WritePink. 

Be part of ending breast cancer by participating in research.  It's free, easy, and volunteers are desperately needed.  I did it, and was even reimbursed for my time and mileage!