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Looking back: top surgery anniversary

six, ten and two

time for medication

but the real pain

is gone

I wrote that haiku at 06:40 on August 6th, 2021. The photo of me drinking Gatorade, tea and water with flushed cheeks and sunglasses on (the pain meds hit HARD) was taken on the same day at 15:15. My first day with a flat chest.

Today marks my one-year anniversary of top surgery. I was planning on publishing a couple more posts about the process before today but as per usual, life got in the way and once again I'm actively reminding myself that this blog is the space I come to unwind and think out loud and just enjoy the process of creating something.

Thank you so much for the messages and comments on my decision journey post. Some of you made me cry and I'm incredibly grateful you took the time to talk to me. The fact that my experience can be helpful in any way is mindblowing and a privilege I hold dear. However, I do have to recognise that looking at my diaries and remembering how I was feeling at the time is also somewhat draining and necessarily emotional (hence trying to give myself grace for not writing everything I had planned to). It's a weird thing to look back on a year afterwards.

Wow. A year of this iteration of myself.

I'm not sure how I feel about this particular day, August 5th, but I still marvel at my flat chest every single day. I started dancing again a couple of months back and seeing my new body moving in those big mirrors in the studio still makes me smile. Because of my flat chest, that is, not the sweet moves I cannot recreate.

My heart sings when I have to do arm and chest exercises in pilates. I still wonder at the fact that going down the stairs isn't a cause of distress anymore.

My cats sometimes fall sleep on my chest with their little heads tucked comfortably under my chin — the best feeling in the world.

I can give bigger and warmer hugs with more joy than before. I glow under shirts that can now be unbuttoned without shame. When I remember my posture, I walk down the street pointing my chest to the sky and feel a pride of liquid gold.

Given that I'm still often bemused at my own chest, I think one thing I would emphasise today is that fully inhabiting a new body takes time. A lot of time. Even if it's a near-constant cause of joy, your brain just takes a while to adapt. It's a very weird mixture of finally having the body you imagined — that's why the dysphoria was so harrowing before I got surgery, of course — and also still somehow being surprised that it's different. Yes, even after a year. A couple of weeks ago I even felt the phantom reflex of needing to put on a bra, even though that's decidedly uncalled for.

Writing that out I realise that my body actually is different because of course it's already evolved. My chest no longer consists mainly of a fresh scar that I have to comically hunch over while it heals. I can now stand tall and if I flex my arms a bit I even have some pectoral muscles now. My body works with a joy it's never had before. I am comfortable. It's a beautiful thing to be at home within myself, physically and emotionally — I can thank top surgery for that peaceful symbiosis.

Well, and therapy, always therapy.

And my loved ones, you know who you are.

And myself. Yes, giving myself credit publicly might make me break out in hives, but it's true that I have myself to thank as well.

But for today, I'm going to thank top surgery the most.


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