Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Lovely Lady Lumps & Positive Mental State

If you are a woman, you have them: boobs, tits, breasts, bazongas, mammaries, cans, melons, rack, the girls, hooters, knockers, twins, lady lumps..... The come in several varieties within the spectrum of big, small, and average (those all have their own set of issues).... Then shape comes into play (see picture above).... For as many different women in the world, there are breasts. If someone can show me two different women you have the EXACT SAME BREASTS...well, I'll give you a cookie a la Mrs. Landingham.

I am a women, and as I am a woman...I have breasts. I also happen to to have very large breasts. So large, in fact...that some people may find my bra size (40J) to be unimaginable. If you are one of those people, welcome to the world that I think is Victoria's REAL Secret...there's boobs out there bigger than 30DD. Welcome to the real world, so nice to have you!

But Kathleen, you ask...why all the tit talk? After loosing 55+ pounds (yes, it's 55+ at this point thankyouverymuch), there was NO WAY I was still in my same bra size (44H) that I had been wearing for the past 10 years, something HAD to have changed.

Now, before I get into this whole "changing bras" business. There's a few things I want to say about misconceptions about larger chested women in general. Now I realize, these are both sweeping and slightly outdated statements; but I feel like a good deal of this permeates through society today. If someone can explain to me why, there's a cookie for you too. Here we go....

1. Big big breasted women are stupid. If you know me just a little, you know that the worst thing you can ever, EVER do is to insult my intelligence. Understandably, I take this a lot to heart. Where did this start? Where's the basis for this? It makes about as much sense as me saying something like, "All men that curve a little to the left are bad at all sports." My sincerest apologies to any man reading this who does curve a little to the left OR has no desire to be good and any sports, but I had to prove a point.

2.  Big breasted women are slutty and whorish. Sir Mix Alot liked big butts and he could not lie, but I have a feeling that Mr. Douche Bag of Days Gone By like big breasted woman, and he had sex with a big breasted woman, and she really enjoyed it...and mabye did some adventurous things to and with Mr. DBoDGB. Then Mr. DBoDGC goes out and tells ALLLLL his buddies what a slutty whore this women was. *facepalm* Let me make myself clear: what a woman chooses to do with her body is HER choice (just as it is for a man). No matter if you have or haven't slept with said woman, you have no right to call them a slut or a whore. It's pointless and infantile.

3. If you show cleavage (and you most likely do if you're a large chested women) you are "asking for it". Sort explanation: no women is "asking for it" unless she says the words "have sex with me". THAT is asking for it. Basically the only way I can not show cleavage is in an turtle neck. I don't like turtle necks. I dislike them as much as I like bull shit societal mores. It's sad that I have to ask my husband if the following picture was "too much" for me to post as my profile picture on facebook. I really wasn't in the mood to get any comments on my cleavage.

I was trying to show off my favorite dress and my favorite new lipstick - Emotional Brilliance's Power.
Back to bra business. A week ago Tuesday I went to the Boston Intimacy store to get fitted. I made two requests 1) that I be able to get a bra in a color other than black, tan or white and 2) to not look like the bra I remember my grandmother wearing in her 80's. (Pretty much the bra I HAD been wearing for the past ten years). In retrospect, I should have talked more about what I wanted in terms of fit, lift and coverage. Maybe I thought I was asking for a bit too much for all that AND to be in my size. (From here on out...I'm DEMANDING it!) I left with a BEAUTIFUL black Andorra bra from Panache.

I excitedly wore it to work the following Thursday with the dress pictured above. Putting it on it felt and looked fantastic. I even sent a picture to my husband, as he is out of town on business, and got his very enthusiastic response. I felt sexy! This is important to me. I spend my days in a dress covered by an apron and then the rest of my time is pretty much spent in horribly mismatched running clothes or my swim suit (and for someone with big ol' body issues to be in a swim suit 3-5 times a week...MAJOR accomplishment).

I got to work and that's where the problem started. I felt lifted from underneath, but not on the top. I felt sloshy and jiggly. I felt as if my boobs were pretty much just flopping around in the breeze. After a day of work and then plenty of errand running in the Back Bay my self esteem had gone from about an 85 to a -50. I had lost my confidence, I wasn't walking with my shoulders back and my head up, I had lost my swag. I felt worse about my body that I had 55+ pounds ago when I chose to stop ignoring it. All this over a bra. A FUCKING BRA!

The only thing that stopped me from COMPLETELY loosing, was getting back in the pool for the first time since I had pulled one of my left pectoral muscles. My boobs don't matter when I swim. They are locked and loaded in a black sports bra UNDER a very snug fit athletic suit. If the water I don't feel like "a bigger girl with bigger boobs"... In the water I'm powerful, I'm strong, I'm effortless, I'm free. I needed that feeling so badly that Thursday.

Walking around in that bra at the end of the day, I felt like everyone could see my breasts sloshing about. I felt like everyone I saw was secretly judging me. I was teased for my boobs in Jr. High, I was teased for my boobs in High School, I was teased for my boobs in College, I was teased for my boobs in Graduate School (yes. Freaking GRADUATE SCHOOL). My thought process was this. I'll never find a non-granny bra and I flop around and thus teased for the rest of my life! (I honestly thought my breasts would have gotten a lot smaller throughout the first half of my weight loss, so I'm not exactly hopefully for second half.)

This was my Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and part of Tuesday before I could get another fitting at Intimacy. By this time I was wound TIGHT! It was all I could do to not burst into tears at just walking into the store. I figured I owed it to myself, my boobs, and my wallet - given I knew I had spent $60 on a bra I knew I would never, ever wear again.

I got the same SA again, and at first was a little upset. It hadn't worked the first time. Why did I think it would be different the second? But, I just put on my big girl panties and dealt. I was much more specific with what I expected from the bra fit and feel wise. I also bought five dresses with me to try on over the bra. I ended up with the Elomi Caitlyn bra in black.

I haven't worn it yet, but I'm planning to tomorrow for lunch with DF. I've actually got a good bit of anxiety about wearing it. Silly, yet not silly at all. Can I ever get them to fit properly out of the dressing room. I feel that putting on bras the "right way" being a leftie can be pretty damned tricky!

Needless to say, this has all been very emotional. If you don't understand, take the aspect of your life that you're the most insecure about and have gotten the most off color or rude remarks, and then feel like nothing you do can make it better.

This took my breath away when I saw it today, and said I how feel about things....

Sometimes I feel that I should be more proud of my body. That I should take a stand for more positive body image. I should, but I'm not. If you're TRULY happy with yourself then own it. I'm not truly happy with myself. I was even less 55 lbs. ago. What I AM truly happy with is my mental state that allows me to keep pushing, to not give up, to not take the first answer as gospel. THAT will take me to a place of positive body image. I just want to get to a healthy place where I can enjoy my cleavage (which I'm SURE will always be ample) in non-granny bras.

*Images 1&3 from Fuller Figure Fuller Busts's facebook and blog. Image 2 my own

Thursday, May 2, 2013

How Did We Get Here? AKA - Carpal Tunnel

How exactly am I able to work out 5 days a week spending multiple hours at the gym, work, have a stable and loving marriage, and see my awesome friends as frequently as I can? Simple actually: I have a part time job. I love my job, but it's not something in a million years that I ever saw myself doing at this age. (30 for the fifth time.) By this time I was SUPPOSED to be finishing my Doctoral of Musical Arts and getting a college teaching job. Supposed to. Life doesn't really deal in "supposed tos" - I learned that the hard way. Enter...carpal tunnel syndrome.

I guess I need to write about this because it will put a lot of posts that I'm wanting to write soon in a more complete light, and in all honestly...due to a myriad of reasons. It's been on my mind lately, so you get to hear about it.

Before I started band in the 6th grade there were two things I wanted to be: a kindergarten teacher and an astronaut. The day I picked up the clarinet I knew I HAD to do something in my life related to music. It look twists and turns (all the while knowing I was NOT supposed to be a Band Director) and eventually I settled down on wanting to teach at a college and performing a lot of new music. (Music by dead white guys is fine and all, but there is something insanely exhilarating about working with the person who actually composed to music and initially sending it out into the world.)

Fast forward a lot of years and a lot of living, and I was FINALLY (after a few medical hiccups) finishing my Graduate Performance Diploma at a music school here in Boston. It was near the end of the school year and my playing schedule was INSANELY busy. I won't go into details about that day, because it's like picking off a scab. I will say, that I knew what it was the moment it happen. I tried to mentally shake it off, but it just did no good.

The next day I went to the doctor. I couldn't see my regular PCP, but insisted upon seeing someone that day. I was mean and nasty.

Me, "I have Carpal Tunnel."
Dr., "So, what are your symptoms."
Me, "No. You don't understand. I'm telling you I have Carpal Tunnel."
Dr., "How exactly do you know."
Me, "Look. I KNOW! Will you just give some braces and write me a referral for physical therapy so I can figure out what the hell my options are."
Dr., "Well, You're not getting either of those until you tell me WHY you have KNOW that you have Carpal Tunnel.
So told her.

Wow. In less than 24 hours I had zipped right through the first two stages of grief - shock & denial and pain & guilt and was right onto number three, anger & bargaining.

Going back to school with arm braces on felt almost like I was a racing horse that hard hurt its leg. They're going to shoot me (metaphorically speaking). My friends, like real life friends (some of which also were conservatory students) were great to me. My "school friends" that's where it struck me as very interesting. Was their distance because a) they weren't quite sure of what to say, so they just ignored b) since I wasn't playing anymore they didn't have anything to talk to me about c) since I wasn't playing I no longer had anything to offer d) too busy to really care or e) WHEW! Not my problem!

I like to think that people aren't that maniacal. I can normally tell from the villainous laugh if they are. In hindsight, I know I'm projecting a lot on people, and they probably aren't that mean in the end, but...that's what I thought at the time. Now I was angry at my current lot in life and annoyed at just about everyone around me. Glorious.

 The people who were actually the best to me were the composers. They were kind, and would listen when I needed to bitch. I still played in two of their recitals because it was just too late and too busy in the year to get anyone else to do it. I played in my braces & I played through pain and numbness. It was OK though, because they were so appreciative and kind. Note to world, if you need something from me....kindness gets you far.

When I started physical therapy, they asked me how I felt about surgery to relieve the carpal tunnel. "Isn't there a chance I'd loose feeling", I asked. I was told yes. "I'm not interested. Not even in the least. Sorry."

Maybe the following made me a sub-par musician, but it helped me make it through the whole carpal tunnel ordeal without falling into a deep depressing. "Only because a musician if you can't see yourself doing something else." We are told this over and over and over....I thought it was rhetorical. Yes. I really, really WANT to be a musician....but it's a big world out there, I could see myself doing other things.  Furthermore...are there SERIOUSLY people out there that HONESTLY feel, "it I wasn't a musician (or ANY profession for that matter) I would curl up in a ball and die?" Does what one does vocationally really, REALLY define them that much? In the case, maybe the Carpal Tunnel did me a favor.

So the physical therapy continued. When I was NOT playing, I was pretty much fine. Playing - with any kind of regularity or length of time...pain and burning. I was basically told that if I wanted to play the amount of time I had been playing, I would need to be in PT half the time I was playing. After some quick calculations in my brain, I said "after we're done with working on what we're working on, I'm done. No more clarinet. No more PT. I'm done." Between the playing and the PT, I would have time for commute, eat, sleep. No husband, no friends, no life. Not interested. I chose to have a life as a human rather than having a life as a clarinetist.

I know this may sound dramatic, but it makes all the sense in the world to me.

Balance had become very important to me every since I very dear mentor basically told me that if I didn't find some and soon, my head was going to literally explode. Luckily for me and the walls of my apartment, when he spoke...I - as a rule - listened.

One thing I was sad, was I never really got to say goodbye. Not to music (it would always be a part of my life) not to the clarinet (I can actually pick them up at anytime), but to performing. The universe must have been listening, because several months later I got an email from a composer friend of mine...

"Hey Kathleen, I know you don't really play that much anymore, but would you be interested in playing the solo piece I wrote for you...."

If was at a salon concert in a loft in Sommerville. It was really chill, everyone was drinking beer, I remember who all was there, the dress I wore, there were people there that I cared for and really respected both personally and musically. It was the perfect time to say goodbye.

The piece's name was No Oblivion. It was written FOR me. In it was what I did well: color, shapes, lines, saying something.

I didn't mention to anyone what that night meant to me. Well, they'll hear it now. It only mattered that I knew how much it meant to me. It wasn't some ivory tower of Beethoven are Mahler, it wasn't some crazy hard Nielsen clarinet concerto, it was friends making other friends music (sometimes for the very first time) in a friendly and fun environment. So it really did go full circle: from a loft full of like minded, new music loving colleagues, to that band hall in 6th grade that felt as welcoming sometimes if not more than your own home.

I could close the chapter of the performer part of my life with a heart not broken, but a heart full.

But in the words of fictitious President Bartlet, "What's next?"

Guess you'll just have to read the next blog entry to find out! :-D