The itch has been scratched

Let me start by saying that I am truly OVER-SHARING here. 

*Update April 2015: This post originally was published in 2010 and I was having so much difficulty believing that I was still sexually appealing and that it was okay for me to explore that side of myself. I wrote this because I know I'm not the only survivor who struggles with body image issues and concerns about sex after breast cancer. It is possible and it can be GREAT! You just have to get out of your own way.*

I know it. Social media has caught me in its clutches and I’ve become “that girl” who types about every move she makes for someone to see. Twitter, Facebook, Form Spring, Four Square and this blog… have become my extended selves. But it’s not a good look because I’m starting to let the instruments handle me instead of me handling them. All that to say, this will likely be my first and last time posting a message of this kind.

I blame Tamoxifen – and my hormones

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I’m blaming the medication that I take for the crazy road trip that my hormones have been on for the past few months. Considering that I will be on it for quite some time – another four years – I’m going to have to figure out other ways of handling the disturbances as they come up. By disturbances I mean, absolutely utterly ridiculous you’ve-got-to-be-freaking-kidding-me spells of extreme LUST. I was going to use the “h” word but I think it may be bad language so, we’ll call it lust.

Breast cancer killed my sex life.

Notice that I didn’t say it killed my sex drive. Now, in full disclosure, chemotherapy unquestionably did play a number on my sex drive. But that’s to be expected. My body was traumatized by all of the drugs I was being given so sex became a distant memory. Didn’t help that immediately following chemotherapy I had a mastectomy which required months of healing… which was followed up with months of radiation therapy. So, I can safely say that for at least 8 months, sex was not on my mind.

However, as my body continued to heal those urges came back. And they came back STRONGLY! I tried to downplay them for a long time because I wasn’t in a relationship any longer and I didn’t feel comfortable showing my new body to a new person. I had a really hard time looking at my chest for many months, I wasn’t ready to reveal that part of myself to someone else. So, more months of no sex. And then one day last summer, I scratched the itch. My mood lightened, I was happier and I honestly think that I may have started to glow (just a little bit).

Sexual intimacy is also a part of "new normal" and ignoring it isn't healthy

Notice I said last summer. It is the following spring and that was the last time I scratched that itch. I returned to my life as a survivor. Getting back into the swing of a “normal” life – hanging with friends, going to dinner, going to parties, etc. – but I did not focus on this one aspect of my life. I focused on the emotional part of being lonely and wanting to be in a relationship. But I just sort of ignored my body’s calling for sexual intimacy. I just didn’t want to face that part of my existence. I don’t really know why.

Well, spring is here and this is my favorite season of the year. I love how it feels like the world is coming alive. I love how it makes me feel inside. I’m a spring baby and I love coming alive in my season. When I started feeling those familiar urgings, I knew I was going to have to pay attention to them but I still wasn’t ready to. I did a lot of things to distract myself. I watched movies (you know, the naked kind), I had long talks with myself, I flirted A LOT, and was intimate with myself but that was it.

Celibacy by default is not an honorable choice for me. Either I am willfully abstaining or I'm hiding and blaming others for my life. 

While I understand (and appreciate) that some people practice celibacy in their lives for various reasons… Nic is not that girl. I like having a healthy sexual appetite and I like sex. A lot.

There. I said it. And I’m not taking it back.

Scratching itches feels great

I’m telling you all of this because last night, I scratched the heck out of my itch. I mean… I scratched and scratched and scratched that doggone itch. I think I scratched for about 4 or 5 hours. It was SERIOUS. My partner took a nap in the middle, but he woke up and got back to work, scratching my itch. And it was a very good scratch. I am pleased. (I’m tired as heck today but eh… so what?)

Until yesterday afternoon, I wasn’t going to scratch the itch at all. I had decided that it was just better and more appropriate that I continue to ignore all of the signals that my body was giving me and just focus on finding a good, solid relationship. But then, I did something that I realized later on I didn’t want to do. I agreed to go on a date with this guy I met. I met him months ago, but we didn’t really connect. And when I ran into him yesterday, he just looked scrumptious.

My judgment was compromised

The confession: I was holding on to an outdated idea of who I was (the good girl) and not embracing that I am always the one in control of my choices and my actions

In other words, I was too worried about what someone else might think of me and not accepting that this is MY life and I am responsible for MY choices. People who want to judge me, will do that whether I'm living on my terms or theirs. 

I don’t know about the rest of you, but when one part of my life is out of balance… everything starts to shift a bit. Because I wouldn’t take ownership of my problem – I needed to have sexual relations – other parts of my life started to shift. I started noticing certain things about myself, but I played it off and blamed other things. But when I was in the middle of a conversation with someone I should not have been talking to, and definitely should not have been sharing what I was sharing with that person – I realized that I had started to drift over to the dark side. I was holding on to my excuses by the tips of my fingers and they were sliding off slowly. I actually articulated that I knew what I was saying was probably wrong but I could not keep it together enough not to say it.

When you can acknowledge that you’re dead azz wrong and still keep doing the wrong thing, you’ve got to make a change and quickly. Either a change in your thoughts or a change in your actions. After I accepted the date with the guy I had already thrown back in the pond… I realized that what I really  needed was my itch scratched. I could not afford to keep playing “nice girl” looking for a boyfriend. I needed to get back in the zone of “pimpin’ ain’t easy” and quick.

(I thought that girl died off years ago… but no. She’s still around.)

I quickly got past my insecurities about my body. I got past my insecurities that he wouldn’t want me. I got past my insecurities about “we’re not a couple” and I got down with the get-down. Repeatedly. 


It is what it is. 

The real questions I have in hindsight are: Who am I trying to impress these days? Whose life am I living? did I really just spend the past two years fighting for my life... only to be too afraid of being judged as a bad girl for living it the way I want to? At what point am I really going to take the training wheels off and just ride? *no pun intended*

Breast cancer plays a crazy mental game on our self-esteem and our body image. It's hard to feel sexy when you've lost a breast (or both). You have to work hard at embracing your "sexy" side again.

I’ve been following a conversation on a breast cancer message board for months. The topic is about dating after reconstruction and each time someone chimes in, I realize that I’m watching myself through other people. All of these women – smart, funny, strong, beautiful women of various ages and ethnicities – are afraid that they may never have sex again. May never be intimate with a man again. Feeling like they are less than gorgeous, less than wonderful and all because of breast cancer. 

These women have the same fears that I do, the same hormonal issues that I do, the same desires that I do but many of them are so afraid of rejection that they are not putting themselves out there. That makes me sad. It actually made me mad because I realized that until I put the ball in motion (pun not intended) the game would not move forward.

The challenge that I think we feel is that we're somewhat disconnected from our bodies now. Months (or years) of doctors staring at you and talking about your body as though you're not the same as your body, messes with you. We're no longer "perfect" (at least that's something I struggled with for a long time) and the one part of us that immediately separates us from men is different. I mean, how do you still love a piece of yourself that tried to kill you? How do you get back to loving your "Fabulous Boobies"? *smh* Speaking from experience... that mess is hard as hell. But it is possible. 

One breast, two breasts, no breasts... ALL FABULOUS! 

You just have to own that and accept it. It starts with you accepting yourself. 

I apologize to everyone who witnessed my social media craziness last night. Everything that I do does not belong on social media that way. However, I am not apologetic about scratching my itch with someone I trust. If I had not done that, I might have ended up scratching with someone I didn’t know just because he was cute or something lame like that.

I am officially a cougar now.  And I think I like it.

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