As I have mentioned a few times, I follow a breast cancer message board somewhat regularly. One of the topics that I have found interest in is a thread about sexual intimacy after breast reconstruction. As a single girl dealing with menopausal issues (thanks AGAIN chemotherapy for that gift)… I find myself often in the grips of hormonal surges that would make a teen-age boy blush. I try to maintain my composure during these surges and continue to behave as a lady should but it gets difficult. Really difficult. If I were a dog, I’d probably be humping trees on a regular basis. Luckily, I’m no dog.
That said, I find it very interesting (and helpful) to see other women facing the same doubts and concerns about sexual intimacy and relationship intimacy that I find myself thinking about all the time. And I’ve been learning a lot about ways to navigate these choppy waters. Its all new to most of us. And since so many of us are single in this particular discussion, it has different ramifications (I would guess) than what women who are in marriages or long-term committed relationships face in the aftermath of breast cancer.
I am still quite shy about my body. I never was much of a “porn star” in the bedroom from that perspective (laughs). But now, I find myself making odd adjustments and covering things up this way and that whenever I’m in a position to be intimate with someone. It is odd and a tad frustrating, but its where my comfort is right now so I roll with it.
Side note: I will have a surprise to unveil later on (maybe a few weeks from now) – my way of dealing with this body image issue – and it is my sincere hope that it goes well and helps in the ways that I think that it will.
Beyond the sexual intimacy issue – because it isn’t only about the physical act of making love with someone – there is the issue of just INTIMACY with a man period. I am closed off emotionally and in some ways, it is annoying me to no end. Though I understand why I am the way that I am – and I know that I am not the only woman in the world fighting this emotional battle after fighting the physical one – that knowledge doesn’t make any of this any easier.
I am having a difficult time just relaxing and allowing myself to feel anything too deep with a guy. I have had a few very nice men come my way trying to get to know me better and establish an intimate bond (not just sexual) with me. And I’ve found myself very actively pushing them away.
Does that make any sense at all? I want to be close to someone and yet, I’m doing everything possible to make it impossible to do that. (hanging head in shame) I’m trying to be better though. In full disclosure, Nicole has always had some difficulty connecting (and maintaining that connection) with guys. No real excuses… I’m like most people afraid of getting hurt if I allow someone to get too close.
One thing that I’ve noticed on the message boards is that several of the women who post somewhat regularly are opting to just take commitment off the table completely. They will date. They will hang out in groups. They may even be sexually intimate with someone. But many of them are just like me – terrified of bringing someone into this world of breast cancer. I’ve had some intense conversations with different men along the way on this journey and many of them have assured me that “a real man” wouldn’t back away from dealing with a woman who was fighting breast cancer (or had beaten it and was dealing with the aftermath). But, there’s real talk and then there’s real life. And sometimes real life leaves you alone and in the cold. Real talk.
That said, there is someone who is interesting me a bit at the moment. Not sure how long the interest will last or whether things will progress any farther than they have but – sigh – I’m really going to give it a try to be open to just allowing someone inside to get to know me more intimately.
Whew. That hurt just to write that. (sigh) So much work to do. (laughs)