(Trigger Warnings are common things in my online circles but if you’re not familiar with them, they’re little signposts that let people know the following text contains things that may have the potential to upset people or trigger some of their own personal issues or traumatic experiences. I want to tread lightly on this blog and don’t want to hurt anyone, so when you see these, please take heed! I’ll also tag the posts so you can easily avoid any certain topics that are triggering for you. So with that said…)
***Trigger Warning: This post mentions body image issues, body modification, plastic surgery, birth trauma, pregnancy, and fitness talk. It may be triggering to people with body image and/or eating disorders.***
So, having kids broke me.
That’s a pretty intense sentence to start with, let’s try again.
So, having kids broke me.
Hrm. Well then.
I guess that’s the only way it’s going to come out. I’m not a good pregnant person. Proof of that is the fact I currently have a 4.5cm separation of the abdominal muscles due to having my 2 sons. It’s called “diastasis recti”. The muscles separate in every pregnancy, but are supposed to go back together afterward, mine didn’t. Part of my physical self-care is fixing this problem, and I’m all for that, but I didn’t expect it to abut my feminism and rub up against my newly blooming body acceptance.
I don’t feel strong anymore. My core is shot and my back is sore because my front is literally not pulling its weight. I get random sharp stabby pains, dull aches, and wear an abdominal brace to prevent possible herniation. 20 years ago, phrases like “she just wasn’t the same after having kids” would be used to describe me. These days, we get advised to have abdominoplasty. I thought it would be a simple keyhole procedure, but a full “tummy tuck” is the standard prescribed method for fixing my problem. When I asked whether it was really necessary and my surgeon replied very much in the affirmative, my face fell. I was gutted (Oh STOP you’re awful! I’m all vulnerable, don’t).
Or at least I was about to be! (okay you got me, I couldn’t stop myself)
I wasn’t expecting this news to irritate my feminism as much as it did. Getting support has been tricky. There’s an online forum full of women (and men) getting the same procedure as me, but only 2 for “medical reasons”, the rest are cosmetic decisions. I don’t judge people at all for wanting to modify their bodies, but when you start down that self-acceptance road, seeing the things you used to say and think seems boorishly obvious in its silliness. Almost farcical. I can’t quite explain it, but I guess I could draw parallels to the shit I used to say distancing myself from the term feminist. I was a “humanist”, god bless my little cotton socks. So original. Much fresh.
I don’t mean to make it sound like I’m some amazingly enlightened person, but it would be a complete lie not to admit that there’s a lot of self-loathing on those forums, and it took me beginning to wean myself off mine to really see it clearly. I’m finding it do-able to find the support I need and blocking out all the other stuff, but I tell you it’s really hard. There’s a girl who is 16 and desperate for a boob job for her birthday. There’s a whole forum section on Labiaplasty. Shit like that sends my feminist spider senses tingling. I had to find a way to be around it all when I really didn’t want to be around any of it.
In the spirit of self-care, I’ve had to do 2 things. Get over the fact this surgery is needed and good for me and will make me strong and strong is good; and ignore what other people think. A two-pronged self-care attack!
“I don’t want this procedure! Look at all the people that have this done! They’re not like me at all!” is not a healthy outlook. Plus it’s super judgey and mean. If I broke my leg I wouldn’t think twice about getting it set professionally and this is what’s happening to my abdominal muscles. Yes, some people are going to think it’s bad that I’m getting it done. But that’s their stuff. The occasional raised eyebrow at the term “tummy tuck”, “mummy tuck” or “anything-o-plasty” is going to come, and I’m much more ready for it now than I was.
Learning to mentally compartmentalise it into “Okay, that’s your stuff, and I’m just gonna leave that for you to deal with, while I’m over here tending to my stuff” is going to be essential to me. Whether it’s learning to block out the body-hatred found in these online support forums, or learning to block out the “your body is your perfect goddess you shouldn’t mess with it” from outside those circles.
Right now, I have to fix my broken body, so I can be strong again. I want to roll around the floor with my kids without worrying about pain. I want to pick them up without bracing like I’m that sticker on a box bending with the knees. I want those things more than I want people to always say what I want to hear. So my priority is getting well, and everything else can suck it.
This self-care thing is going pretty well so far with phrases like that, I think.
(PS: I’m really scared…)