A sensual evening with Mateo (my LA tango teacher and friend) brings my feelings about my recent mastectomy to the surface. I share with Mateo deep feelings of rage and grief as I try to find new ways to experience pleasure and redefine my sexuality.

New Inlets to Erotic Pleasure

August 24, 2012

Hi Mateo,  

I know you are in New Mexico teaching or on your way. I hope it is a nice getaway for you.

When we were talking in my home in L.A., after you took me to the doctor a few weeks ago, I made mention of getting temporarily suicidal in response to something having to do with my left breast that the doctor did not prepare me for.  I did not want to talk about it with you in that moment.  Now I do.

Immediately after the surgery my left nipple was completely numb—it felt dead—and the doctor could not predict if it was temporary or permanent. [At the time of the mastectomy of the right breast, I had cosmetic surgery on the left breast (a lift) so things would look more proportional and even.  The doctor told me there was no risk of loss of sensation, so I was shocked by the loss of feeling.  The doctor insisted that he’d prepared me for this possibility, but he had not.]  The loss was beyond words, and I spiraled into despair and rage.

This is a poem I wrote at the time:

He brushes his hand
across her breast
memories of arousal
and excitement flood her brain
but she feels the death of her breast
the beautiful intricate circuitry
that was gifted to her by God
the exquisite finite delicate
subtle prancing
erotic dances of delight
all reduced to stone
at the hands of a surgeon’s knife
one hand gives,
and another takes

she rages at the injustices of the world
wondering how such loss and cruelty
can be a part of mankind
and how in a snip
so much can be taken
it was a symbol of all that is beautiful in the world
of all that is beautiful in me
it awakened me
my entire body
to bliss, sensuality, warmth, and erotic sensation
it was a symphony of love
beyond the reach of most
violin, trumpet, piano, harp, guitar
synthesizing, harmonizing
accessible only to the gifted
now access denied to all

I am writing about this because you are the first man to have touched my left breast since the final surgery.  It is not something I can gauge by my own touch.  The nipple was definitely not numb when you touched it (which is very good news) . . . but the sensitivity was not the same.  When I was with you, I made a conscious choice to focus on what I could feel rather than on what I could not feel.  I knew it was an unknown as to whether I would see you again, so I did not want to allow grief or negative feelings to take away from the moment.  My sensuality and my capacity for intimate connection are intact, but I may have to find new inlets to erotic pleasure.  I think it is important to continue focusing on what I can feel, rather than what I cannot.  And things may be different when I am in a regular, ongoing sexual relationship.

The right breast is a whole other story, which I will spare you at this time.

It really is tragic in so many ways.  That said, I thoroughly enjoyed myself the last night we spent together at the beach, and I am going to try to keep a positive open perspective about the future (regarding my sexuality).

blessings and love,


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