Q. How do I deal with the anxiety of showing your body to your husband after having a double mastectomy? I am having a difficult time looking at myself so what will my husband feel?
Coping with the loss of breasts is a very challenging experience for many women who go through mastectomy surgery, especially when the breasts are considered a source of confidence or a sense of feminine pride. I’m sorry that you’ve had to go through this loss and adjustment at all. If you’re recovered from your mastectomy and find you’re still feeling uncomfortable with how your chest looks, delayed breast reconstruction is an option available to you once you have completed the rest of your cancer treatment. While it may feel different from the breasts you originally had, implants may help you feel more comfortable in your skin. If this is something you think you’re interested in, I’d recommend contacting your surgeon who performed your double mastectomy for next steps. They may be able to refer you to a plastic surgeon if you’re not already in touch with one.
Aside from that, I think allowing yourself to go through the grieving process of losing your breasts is an important part of regaining confidence in your body image. What you went through is something most would consider traumatic – both from a body image standpoint and from a medical point of view. It’s okay to be sad that you no longer have this part of you. Recalibrating our sense of self and self-identity isn’t something that happens overnight. As you grieve, you will hopefully come to accept how your body looks now, at least enough to regain your confidence. It may be worth focusing on other parts of your body that give you confidence and make you feel sexually desirable—like legs, butt, arms, face, just as a few examples.
I’ve neglected to speak about your husband’s point of view until now, and I apologize for that. But that is because, in my view, your ability to feel comfortable and love yourself is more important than the perspective of any other person. Others pick up on how we feel about ourselves and it’s also hard to accept the love of others if we have not made room for it inside of ourselves. To give a bit more tangible recommendation, it may help to have an honest conversation about your husband about how you’re feeling about your body. Your husband took an oath to love you for the rest of your lives when you married; as your life partner, I would imagine he will love you regardless of your appearance. Even so, letting him in onto how you’re feeling will allow him to better support you an make you feel comfortable during intimate moments. I know this sounds cliché, but people fall in love with who someone is as a person more than their appearance. It may take a bit of faith to believe he still finds you desirable when you yourself feel insecure—and this is a very natural problem to have! But I truly believe this is something you can work through with open communication and self-nurturing.