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Braless, Barefoot, and Bare

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chair-1604416Over a decade and many more years ago, I was in an on again off again tumultuous relationship with a man, that I would now hardly call a relationship. At the time, he and I were driving in a truck from Dallas back to my home at the time, which was about a 6 hour drive. I was wearing sandals, so I kicked them off, curled my feet up under me, and then slipped my bra off while still wearing my shirt. You ladies know how to do that, right? Right. So anyway, I was just kicking in for being comfortable for the long trip. I slipped the bra into the side pocket of the truck, and I started to read a book I’d brought with me.

When we got to Weatherford, I told him I was hungry and asked if we could stop to get something to eat. He needed to fill up with gas, so we did that first, and while he was filling up, I searched for a place nearby to eat. This was before the days of smartphones and GPS being so popular, so I had to go into the station and ask about places to eat. They suggested a great place just down the street, so when he got back into the truck, I told him about it. We pulled up to the place, and I got ready to get out, slipped my shoes on, and reached for the door handle.

He stopped me and said, “I’m no going in there with you without your bra.”

Seriously? Wow. I asked why. He said, “I like my women… I mean, you know, the people I’m with, to look good when I’m with them.”

I’m thinking 1) we’re at a podunk little roadside steakhouse, 2) we’re about 5 1/2 hours from from home and from anyone we will ever see again, and 3) I’m my own person and if it doesn’t bother me, why should it bother him? Does my appearance really have any reflection on him at all?

Regardless, while you women all know how easy it is to take a bra off while wearing a shirt, have any of you in public, in a parking lot, ever tried to, with big boobs like mine, put one on while wearing a shirt? Yeah, ain’t happening. So I asked him to go back to the gas station so I could use the restroom and put it on and he said he didn’t want to. He instead pulled behind the restaurant and told me I could do it there.

I finally refused, and we decided to go to Wendy’s and eat on the road. I fumed the entire way home and basically refused to even speak to him.

As I’ve said at the beginning, this was a tumultuous relationship. Sadly, of and on this relationship lasted 11 years of my life.

Looking back at it now, I can’t help but wonder what the hell I was thinking.

What he thought of me was so important to me. What everyone else thought of him was more important to him than what I thought or wanted or needed.

It was a stupid bra. Was it really that important? I was still young. The boobs were still perky. I was still well dressed in every other way, even had my hair and makeup done.

Anyway, this isn’t the point of what I was going to say.

Since I’ve been sick, it’s interesting how much my appearance has gone by the wayside. When you have only so much energy (so many ‘spoons’ as the saying goes), then you learn to spend that time and energy wisely. I’ve learned that things like makeup and styling hair takes so much energy that I then have no energy to go out and enjoy myself. Things that you might take for granted now, when you can’t breathe and you feel so much pain all the time, become difficult, like putting on a bra, twisting it around, slipping your arms through (when the straps scrape against the arms and it’s excruciating) then the band pushes against pressure points of your body and that hurts, and you desaturate into the 80s just from putting the bra on…. who cares about a bra after all that? Pantyhose? What the heck are those? Haven’t seen a pair of them in 10 years. Getting dressed the way I used to when I was working and young and active and healthy, well… that takes so much energy that the only thing I can do is crawl into bed afterward, no energy for going out.

So I’ve learned how to change things. I have slip-on shoes, a hairstyle that requires me only to blow dry it, and I rarely if ever wear any makeup any more. I choose clothes to buy that are easy to wear, that don’t require me to contort my body to put them on, things that are loose and flowing, so I can feel feminine and attractive, but still be comfortable and not in pain because my clothes are tight.

And yes, sometimes, I do not wear a bra.

I’m still very uncomfortable doing this, but I think as I get older or get sicker, either/or, I will likely get more accustomed to that too. I can become that ‘crazy old lady’ and I’m okay with that. Why am I okay with it? Because it’s being that ‘crazy old lady’ that lets me enjoy any time out of the house.

I was talking to my mom the other night and I told her, after all the medical stuff, I have no pride any more. I have no shame. So many people have seen my boobs and my ass and, heck, even my insides. Shoot, the folks at the hospital have probably seen more of me than some folks I’ve been intimate with have! Sometimes a tech walks in during a minor procedure and a boob is exposed, and he’ll blush and apologize, and I’m like, “Come on in… I have no shame! It’s just a boob!”

After all, they’re just boobs. And braless or not, who cares?

And if you’re one of those who are sick, who lives with a chronic illness, save some of your spoons. Makeup and hair and clothes are all trappings. You don’t need them to be beautiful. Love yourself for who you are, saggy boobs and barefeet and pale face and all. You’ll feel better for it, and you’ll find you have more time and energy to be you!

The one biggest lesson I have learned from being sick, in so many different ways, is this: Don’t judge.

You never know. You don’t know a person’s situation. When you see me braless and wearing my slip on shoes and I’m in my wheelchair, overweight and on oxygen–you might assume a lot about me. Most of it would probably be wrong. I’m not in the wheelchair because I’m fat or lazy. I’m not on oxygen because I have COPD (which I get asked a lot for some reason–it’s like people think you give your COPD by smoking and being unhealthy or something, which isn’t always true). I’m not sick because I’m fat, but I have gotten fat since I’ve been sick (fluid retention is such a bitch, let me tell you–but I’m successfully though slowly working on that). And I’m not not wearing a bra because I’m lazy either. It’s because if I put the bra on, I might have been able to leave the house!

And maybe there are people out there who would be mortified to ever leave the house with a bare face and a bare chest… hell, ya’ll, I was at the grocery store one night straight from the hospital in a nightgown, with a scarf on and bright red fuzzy house slippers in my wheelchair, because I wanted to stop by the grocery store on the way home from the hospital, because once I got home, I wasn’t going to be able to leave for several days.

So I don’t judge any more, or at least I try not to. It’s also been interesting for me as a writer, because even though I’ve always been a people watcher and I’ve always written stories about people in my head, my own new experiences now have given me a new avenue for writing those people’s stories. We don’t always think about what motivate people.

I’m reminded of a story Robert Fulghum wrote in one of his books about some kids on a bus with their father, two kids, acting up and being total brats on the bus, jumping up and down, running up and down the aisles, making noise and being a nuisance, and the father sat there, staring ahead and did nothing. When a woman finally said something to him, very judgmental about him not doing anything to control his kids, the man told her that his wife, their mother, was at the hospital and was just told she had cancer and was going to die, and he didn’t know how to tell the kids…

Or like the sentiment in the Unsent Letter To the Man in the Blue Truck, where it says: “If every human being stopped for a moment and asked, “If I knew XXX about this person, would I still respond this way?” I think the world would be a kinder, gentler place.”

If we all knew everyone’s story, their personal story, there are a lot of things we might accept differently. And possibly even some things we wouldn’t and perhaps shouldn’t accept too.

But we can’t know everyone’s story upfront.

So why not err on the side of caution and treat each person kindly, regardless of their story? Who knows the difference it might make.

And if you see a middle-aged, chubby woman with reddish hair and oxygen tubes up her nose, braless and barefoot, in her powerchair at the grocery store, smile and say hi. I might not have much pride, but I’m pretty friendly.

Love and naked boobs stuff,

Michy

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2 Responses to “Braless, Barefoot, and Bare”

  1. Donna Batton says:

    Very well said Michy! We don’t know what’s going on in the lives of the people around us. ”
    don’t judge, lest you be judged.” Love you.

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