Friday, 5 September 2014

Soft in September

"Soft" was one of the last August break prompts and I really wanted to write a post based around this simple word. I knew what I wanted to talk about and the image I wanted to capture: my belly.
My belly has been through many many things this last couple of years. It has been squishy, slightly floppy, taught with exercise and now it is soft and peppered with what look like tiny shrapnel wounds. Seven of them after two rounds of surgery to remove endometriosis.

Every now and then i will catch my breath and think gosh, what a year.
It has been a year of awkward consultations with gynaecologists who still can't say the word vagina and refer to it as "down there".
It has been a year of imagining my body furring up like an old kettle, endometriosis as lady limescale.
A year of shedding and removing and forcibly excising that which does not belong. Tumours and cysts. Shame. Trauma. The way an old abusive relationship can lodge itself in the body and spoil every piece of attention from the opposite sex. Every cross roomed glance. Every attempt at somehow making life bigger.
A year of internal shifts.
Literally. (My uterus and left ovary pulling itself towards my hip joint, not the onset of arthritis as I had feared).
And figuratively. (My capacity to give a shit greatly reduced, the habit of needlessly apologising disappearing like smoke, my voice returning, shaky but still there. My new Fuck It attitude).
A year of slowing down and lowering expectations. Of realising they were already pretty low and then the sudden impatience to be better! Now!
A year that involved nearly 7 hours of surgery altogether. And my mum crying as they wheeled me back from theatre because no one could tell her where I was and what had taken so long. And me. Off-my-face delirious.
Of itchy compression stockings. Of drips and morphine. Of anaesthetic and the terrible things it does to your hair. Of Pinterest. Thank the moon and stars for Pinterest.
Of researchers standing at your bedside the day after surgery to thank you for taking part in a trial because they had never had so many samples from one person ("we had to keep running downstairs to get more dishes!")
Of crying in the middle of Aberystwyth town centre because the tiredness has taken over again and making it from the bench to Costa is too much of an ask. And, God, it's been 5 weeks since surgery shouldn't I be feeling better by now? (Yes, I really thought that)
A year of my belly changing shape almost continuously depending on the time of the month, bloated one minute, flat as a pancake the next. Post surgery weight loss as the workouts stopped and internal healing began to kick in. It's something they don't tell you- that kind of healing? It burns a shitload of calories.
And now the belly is pale and soft and benign. Calm like the moon. And I am making a conscious effort to rewrite the years' script as summer chills into autumn.

The first time I weeded the garden and didn't collapse into exhaustion.
The mild online flirtation I was brave enough to indulge in at the beginning of the year even though it didn't come to anything. It didn't matter. I said yes.
The family with their cakes and small, sticky affectionate toddlers.
The tribe and the Glastonbury trip in a few weeks. There will be crystals and incense and whole foods.
The way my body has mended and with that, the not minding that it's changed shape at all. Not minding that it's rounder in places. That it has scars. Its recovery a small miracle to me.
The sunshine and the seaside and the water. Sitting on the sand like Barbara Hershey in Beaches. Only in Aberdovey. With Ice cream.
The healing. All of it. Messy though it is.