I think I am a well-adjusted amputee woman. To be completely honest, I am truly content and happy with my life. I have accepted the amputation, and I am trying to embrace the challenges that arise every day.
Despite my body and spirit transformation, I continued to dislike looking in full length mirrors. My prosthetists' gait training room has a huge wall of mirrors. In that situation, I recognize the benefit of looking at myself walk. I have, however, encouraged him to install a draw curtain so the mirrors don't have to be visible during fittings etc.. I would even sew the curtains myself! I certainly can't be the only amputee to feel this way.
I worried, "Do I dislike seeing the prosthetic on me because it forces me to face my reality? But don't I face that same reality every day when I put my leg on and walk?" I think it started out as avoidance, but evolved into more of a habit.
I don't want to present a simplistic representation of the body image issue. It has taken me more than 5 years, and a lot of work from the inside out, for me to get to this stage. I took down and gave away every full length mirror in my home. I bought my clothes over the internet so I wouldn't have to look into the mirrors when I tried them on. I fought back more tears than I could count when I would catch an accidental glimpse of myself in the mirror or window.
Everybody has a different way of dealing with these fears. For me, I decided that I needed more of a desensitizing approach.
So, I started looking into full length mirrors more often in an attempt to prove to myself that I really am okay with what I see. It has taken a long time, but I am no longer afraid of what I see when I look in the mirror. Most of the time, I feel empowered. I still have the occasional internal pang of loss when I see myself as an amputee. The majority of the time, I see woman who is proud of who she is becoming.
This being said, there is one challenge looming. Something both my Mom and I have been dreading for months. I need to look in those dreaded mirrors wearing...... a swim suit.