Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Break Up Letter to My Boobs

Dear breasts,

I wish I could start off this letter with something like, “There comes a time in every woman’s life when she has to say goodbye to her boobs…” (and the fact that I feel that way attests to the inevitability of this moment for me), but unfortunately, this is far from routine, and we are both about to enter uncharted territory. The truth is, no woman ever expects to have to do what I’m about to do to you; for most, breasts are sources of pleasure – both physical and emotional – dispensers of nourishment, symbols of femininity. But to me, you’ve become something else, something more sinister. You have the potential to kill me, and because of that, I’m afraid I’m going to have to kill you first.

But first, an apology. I’m sorry I have to do this. I never thought it would end like this. In fact, nothing about our time together has been quite what I expected. But here we are, spending our last few hours in each other’s company: me, woman about to embark on a life free from the specter of breast cancer, and you, two dead boobs dangling. I know this is probably hard to understand, but what I’m doing is what’s best for both of us. And like a love affair that’s lost its passion, we should end things now, when we’re still on speaking terms, before we start throwing plates, when we can still remember the good times, before we learn to hate.

And we sure have shared some good times. Remember the first time I bared you to the bright sun? The tide had gone out at Mont St. Michel in France, and, alone with my friends, two other teenage girls in a deserted expanse of sand and sun, we doffed our bikini tops and tanned like the French do. I was only 15, and K and J, though my peers, seemed so much more like women than I was at the time. You barely filled out an A cup back then. And you had never been propped up by underwires.

But even back then, back before you grew into the womanly, pendulous mounds you are today, you had been touched. And the electricity I felt from so simple a feel! Second base. We’d rounded it. And I began to understand the fascination with you – boys’ eagerness to see and cup, my desire for their touch. But yet, I was painfully shy, almost ashamed of you, incredulous that anyone would find you – my little mosquito bites – worth their affection. Even into my twenties, I often made love with my shirt on, embarrassed to expose you so directly to someone else’s glare. On particularly uninhibited occasions, I’d let you hang free: that time I vacuumed the beach house completely naked, that time I took you drunkenly swimming with some Frenchmen in the Riviera. But for the most part, you were a guarded secret.

Something happened while I was busy protecting you, though. You changed. You swelled into something I could hardly recognize as belonging to me. Suddenly, you required a bra – and not one just for show, so the boys could snap my strap, like they did at summer camp in seventh grade. And as you became more like the breasts I always wanted, I grew more comfortable with you. The more hands that touched you, the more comfortable I felt allowing myself to be felt. And gradually, as my body matured, I grew to love you – you who I once distrusted, for not showing up until so much later than the other girls whose breasts I saw in the locker room after field hockey practice in middle school, for not being big enough to hold a tube of lipstick between like Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club, for not being enough handfuls for curious male hands whose disappointment I sensed between sloppy teenage tongue kisses.

You’ve existed in your present form -- ample, worthy of adulation –- for only about ten years or so. And so, in saying goodbye to you now, I can’t help but feel cheated out of time together that was rightfully ours. Just when things were going great, it all had to come crashing down. But at least I’ll always have the memories, the moments in time when I was proud, when I felt beautiful, because of you.

And I will still be beautiful without you. It may take some getting used to, but I spent most of my life getting comfortable with you anyway. And your replacements –- I’m sorry to be so crass, but let’s be honest –- will be, in many ways, far superior (not the least because they won’t try to kill me). But I’d be terribly untruthful if I said I wasn’t going to miss you. Sure, we’ve had a vexed relationship. I can remember so clearly standing in front of my bathroom mirror, a prepubescent girl staring at her bony, naked frame, and wondering where you were, wondering if there was something wrong with me, wondering if I was a boy, or at least destined to be built like one. And just the other night, I stared at you again, thinking you ugly, uneven, udderlike. But at both those moments, separated by decades, you and I, despite our adversarial stance, were one. And after Friday, we’ll be apart, forever.

You haven’t done anything wrong. But I can’t truthfully say, “It’s not you, it’s me.” Because it is you, or at least what you could do to me, that is causing me to make this choice. But it’s also me. I can’t live my life in fear of you a second longer. We have to break up. I just don’t see this as a long term relationship. You just aren’t healthy for me.

So goodbye my old friends. May the joy you’ve brought into my life and others’ live on long after you have gone. I wish it didn’t have to be like this, but you’ve left me no other choice. As we part, however, I know I’m a better, fuller person today than I was all those years ago, so meek, so desperate for affirmation. And I’m confident enough with who I am as a woman that I can live without you. I don’t need you anymore. Thanks for the mammaries.



  1. Bravo! What a fabulous letter Steph! You're going in with the right frame of mind. Good luck x x x

  2. Brilliant piece of writing. I don't need to wish you luck because you're making your luck every second you walk through life with your head held high and a wry smile on your face. - EricTN

  3. Great letter!!! Good luck to you!! xoxo

  4. That was great! I hope it gave you the closure you needed. Will be thinking of you tomorrow!


  5. S, What a fantastic letter! I am thinking of you today and know everything will go swimmingly. Can't wait to read your first post-surgery blog post :)

  6. The most beautiful and well processed breakup ever. It's the end for your natural boobs, but just the beginning of the rest of your long, healthy life with your new boobs. To life! L'chaim!

  7. What an amazing letter from an amazing woman. You are so brave (much more so than I was before my bpm) and eloquent and wise. I'm so sorry I've been MIA. I wish you an easy and swift recovery. Hugs and love!