Years ago when I was a different woman, I asked a friend of mine for an experience. At the time it was giant steps of trust and profound moments of awe. It remains one of the most poignant memories I have.
I rarely ever felt beautiful. I rarely ever felt good enough or enough. That night I felt cherished and treasured by women who would become cornerstones in my life.
Fast forward through divorce, an uncollaring, a horrible breakup with H, a stay in the Loony Bin, parenting 3 teenage daughters, cancer, chemo, hysterectomy, mastectomy, the devastating death of my brother, cutting, depression….I could go on and on.
I no longer put much stock in the way someone looks, nor do I question if I’m good enough or enough for someone. I no longer wonder if I’m worthy of love and acceptance.
I’ve done the work and I can look in the mirror at my scarred body and flawed mind and find myself worthy of everything this Universe has to offer.
I walked up to my friend, not nervous or anxious. I said “Hey, can you do a needle corset?”
Before long we were settled in a room. My Daddy was right by me, touching my skin. My friend has an energetic good vibe, but she’s also calming and soft. I thought for a moment I’d be overwhelmed with the touching and closeness of both of them. Instead I was swept up in the excitement. I took off my shirt and settled across the seat.
I’m no longer proud of myself for being able to be naked and vulnerable and there were only fractions of seconds here and there when my old insecure brain would play those old tapes.
KB gathered her supplies and began sliding the needles into place. I could have focused solely on my breathing and removed myself from the pain. If I anticipate pain coming, I taught myself the weeks after my surgery to ignore it. It was useful while having fluid drained from my chest wall with the synthesis needle.
I put myself in that place instantly after seeing the needles in my friend’s hand. But I’m still here and I’m grateful for the pain. After the fourth needle slides in I realize I’m robbing myself from this experience. I lift my head and open my eyes. I unlace my fingers and when the next needle pierced my skin, I felt it down to my fingertips.
Twenty- six. The pain starts to feel warm and sharp, then dull and constant. As she’s tying the lace ribbons, tugging this way and that, Daddy’s hand slides along my thigh and teases me. He kisses my shoulder. I’m glad he’s in the room with me. I never feel alone anymore.
I looked at my old picture. I want to tell the girl with the needle corset going across her shoulder blade, to hold on. I want to tell her that friends like KB will stay in her life, that pain will shape her like water shapes the rock. I want to tell her that people will come and go but love remains. I want to tell her that she is pretty, but pretty doesn’t matter so much anymore. I want to tell her that when the needles slide into her skin, each time they will slide right back out. I want to warn her about the impermanence of this life. I want to tell her to grab hold of the ribbon and tug.
I more than doubled my needles this time. I wonder in a few years when I look back, what I will want to tell the girl in this picture.