I want to stop buying things.
I woke up at 4:37 a.m. this morning despite taking enough medicine to put a 350-pound wrestler in a permanent ASMR state. I checked Instagram and saw a sale on a beige tank dress that would look lovely with my caramel-colored slides and matching handbag. Except. I already had a beige dress. It was a linen halter dress I bought while taking a day trip to a boutique hotel near one of the Mayan ruins dotting the Riviera Maya coast in Mexico, where I live. I love that boutique hotel. You can have Mayan honey swirled in with your $10 French tea and go home with a dress that costs God-who-knows how many dollars because the price was in pesos.
That’s how it has been since my emergency hysterectomy – pain, hollowness, and insomnia. The hysterectomy was the inevitable result of following the doctor’s advice to “wait and see” about the fibroids growing inside my womb.
I am not alone. All women are susceptible to having fibroids at some point in their lives. Black women like me, however, are more likely than other women to have fibroids. We experience fibroids at a younger age, have more fibroids and larger fibroids. Concerned about my condition, I first went to a highly recommended female doctor who suggested a “wait and see” approach to my fibroids because I also suffer from high blood pressure and anemia.
I followed her advice until a late-night stint in the emergency room gave me no other choice than to remove my uterus and ovaries. My fibroids multiplied and grew in size. One fibroid was 25 cm or nearly 10 inches in diameter. I was also carrying two cysts in my right ovary that were 5 cm or 2 inches each. My stomach ballooned to the size of a woman who is several weeks into her first trimester of pregnancy.
Having an enlarged uterus is a symptom of harboring the multigenerational trauma of racism in my womb. I hadn’t processed it. I spent two intermittent decades in therapy. When that didn’t work, I moved to another country to escape the legacy of American chattel slavery, whose tentacles reach us today.
The hysterectomy catapulted me into early menopause. I am not the same person as I was before the surgery, and it scares me. Maybe the hands that threaded the polka dot skirt on sale last month will know what it’s like to be stitched together without a womb while trying to figure out how to be a woman again.
I have been a womanist since I was 15 years old. A womanist is a “Black feminist or feminist of color who opposes sexism in the Black community and racism throughout the feminist community.” Intellectually, I understand that women are not the sum of our biological destiny. But tell that to the surrounding body parts that grieve my womb’s absence.
My favorite time to buy things is at night while binge-watching RuPaul’s Drag Race for the 57th time. Somewhere between the mini-challenge and the lip-synching for your life, I recently became obsessed with the idea of purchasing a five-piece travel lounge set.
The designer envisioned a world where one could pack an “effortlessly chic” nightie, tank top, lounge pants, and robe – all made of sustainable fabrics – and feel complete. I hungered for that kind of wholeness as I watched Bob-the-Drag Queen twirl and swagger across the main stage of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
By the way, I know there’s something incredibly meta about watching men perform exaggerated stereotypes of womanhood while recovering from a hysterectomy. But I’m not ready to unpack that yet.
I was too busy totaling the cost of the five-piece loungewear set. It was $370 plus shipping, handling, taxes, and duties. While I couldn’t afford the $500 total price tag, I could buy the $50 pajama set by the same designer sold at an online outlet. So, I jumped at the chance of elegant ease and wholeness at a fraction of the price.
A week later, the pajamas arrived in a stylish, biodegradable pouch. Unfortunately, the pajamas didn’t fit. They were too big. I dropped 15 pounds since the hysterectomy. I don’t know my body anymore with its night sweats, brain fog, and simmering rage. It’s not for sale.