How Easy It Is To Breathe

Of course, with a surgery to change the shape of the inside of my nose, the shape of the outside has also changed. 

The shape of my nose has always been distinctly narrow (hence, the nostril issue and reason for surgery). With this change, toward the tip of the nose is now rounder. Today is Day 9 post-operation, and I honestly don't know how much of what I see is still swelling or if this is the way it's going to be. 

The days immediately after surgery, as you might imagine, my nose was very swollen. My whole face was swollen! It was 24 hours before I looked in the mirror, partially because I was distracted by walking to and from the toilet and partially because it just didn't even cross my mind. When I finally did look in the mirror, when I had a real look, I tuned in immediately to the vision of the new nose, all complete...and my only thought was, "This is going to be so pretty!" 

Over the following days, I was more in my body, able to see more and relax with what I saw. The nose was an interesting shade of purple and very round! It was very different than before. 

In my quiet time, I contemplated the shape of the nose. I thought about what it means - the look of my face, the shapes of the features. Whether I still "looked like me". 

I heard the voices of my mother and father, "Oh Kerri! Now the tip won't bob up and down when you say the letter "m"! That was YOUR nose! It was so unique and now you're just going to look like everyone else! That was a family nose. How will we know it's you?" 

I heard random voices of society, "You're not pretty anymore. You blew it. Nobody will take you seriously. You have to be narrow to be pretty. It's all thrown off now. Everyone will see you are ugly! You don't matter now. You're ruined. What's feminine about THAT? What a dump you are!" 

And through it all, listening to it all and feeling it all, I just smile and say, "Yeah? Well, I can breathe!" 

Then I lie down and just breathe through my nose and really, really enjoy it. I noticed that I would get caught up in thoughts for a moment and the body wanted a deeper breath. I ventured to take that deeper breath through my nose...and it worked! (I'm crying right now as I type this because this was so truly monumental!) I can breathe. 

On Day 7 the stitches came out. I cried like a three year old in the exam room where my surgeon did his best to go fast because it was so tender. After the second stitch he had one or two more to do. My face was wincing in pain.

"I'm sorry..." he said. 

"Thank you..." I said. "Just get'er done..." 

After the stitches were out and he had a final look, he said, "I'd like to see you again in a month." And I started crying. I asked him for a tissue and he handed me the box. I just let myself cry and cry like a little kid. 

"Are you okay?" he asked.

"Yes. This is just little-kid emotions." It was probably way more than that. 

I didn't get in the way of my own tears. I asked him, "Do you feel good about how it's all going?" 

"Yes, I do." He said. And that was it for the visit with him. See you in a month.

I stood there waiting to schedule my next appointment with the receptionists, crying and gurgling. I can't blow my nose at this point - it's way too painful. So I dabbed the blood and snot and cried some more. It felt good to just let it be. 

A friend drove me to the appointment. My nose was big and purple. It felt like she had a hard time looking at me. I get it. We agreed I kind of looked like Karl Mauldin, an actor from '70's and '80's cop shows. 

She said to me, "Well, this has definitely changed your look!" 

Yeah, but I can breathe! 

As the nose heals and is coming back into a less bulbous, less purple state of being, I have to admit that my mental/egoic structure is dancing with the option to "not like how it looks". It's dancing with thoughts of complaint that we "should have done more to agree on the shape of the nose." Stuff like that. But this is just the mind, looking to make lemons out of lemonade...so to speak.

All of this touches on the idea of identity. 

"That was YOUR nose! That nose was YOU, Kerri!" 

I am walking around with a front row seat as the ego dissolves itself away with nothing to hold onto. Breathing is nice.

Who decides what pretty is, anyway? Some person who learned it from a magazine? Or a cop show? Why is "pretty" even important? So other people can feel comfortable and unthreatened about a physical shape? 

When I was young I used to want to look for long moments at people who where shaped differently. I wanted to take in all of the different shapes and curves and lengths and textures and colors so they wouldn't seem so odd, so I could really see who they really are.

Adults have rules based on judgments for how long you get to look, how fast you should be able to integrate those shapes and colors. It's not enough. Only certain patterns, shapes and colors are allowed to be comfortable to the psyche of children - anything outside of that is called "abnormal" and to be feared. A new shape on my own body travels first through the filters of "abnormal" before it can be integrated as "the way it is" and potentially be considered "pretty". 

Is the shape of my body actually to do with my identity? Is this unique combination of curves, lines, patterns and textures who I am? According to the masses? Yes. Of course. 

Perhaps my nose is now "less unique." Maybe it's "less pretty". That's a decision for the eye of the beholder. For myself, I can breathe! 

When I look in the mirror, my neural pathways are still adjusting to the change. I still feel a twinge of fear because it's different. It's rounder. It's "not pretty" according to the lifetime of judgments that whipped my perfectionism to serve any master who would take my power from me. It's an adjustment, if I'm going to look at the nose from a pre-configured comparison with its previous character.

It's an amazing, truly amazing opportunity to reveal every nuance of judgment about physical appearance. 

When I stop looking and instead simply brush my teeth, wash my face, I realize how easy it is to breathe.

Kerri LakeComment