Atoosa Unedited
Atoosa Unedited
I Have A Third Nipple

I Have A Third Nipple

And other revelations that have deepened my friendships over the past month
This is me when I woke up post-op. My surgeon was named Alexandra and my nurse was named Alex. We had a complete A Team on the case. Plus, the surgeon had to initial my boob which felt kinda hot to be honest. Sex cult chic. 🤷🏻‍♀️

I’m going to do something a little differently this week. Instead of writing an essay and then reading it for the audio portion, I’m just going to talk and then transcribe what I say. It’s what I’m more comfortable with so let’s try it as an experiment.

I’ve been thinking about friendships…intimate, close friendships. My first best girl friend was Katie Modica in 4th grade. (And btw - if anybody knows a Katie Modica who is around 51 and originally from Long Island, PLEASE put us in touch because she was really a very special person to me back in grade school.) I had a lot of obstacles to making friends back then because we moved to this country when I was in pre-school, I didn’t speak English and it took awhile to get fluent in the language. Plus, my family is not American so it wasn’t second nature for my family to set up playdates for me or for my mom to socialize with the other moms at school. And so I was on my own and it took until 4th grade for me to really resonate with someone like I did with Katie.

On a parallel track, there was another obstacle to my having really close friendships. In my culture, and CERTAINLY within my family - but I do think it’s an Iranian thing, there’s a face you put on for the outer world and a face you have on the inside. So my mom could be screaming bloody murder at me and calling me names but the moment someone from the outside would come by BOOM, she’s the nicest person in the world. “Oh my gosh, your mom is the absolute nicest.” And yes. She was that person. But she was also that other. There was always this mask that you put on for social purposes that showed you’re kind and polite and put together and, you know, all of those wonderful things. (And I’m sure every culture and family have some version of that.) This mask was really internalized for me: I was always going out into the world as this “perfect” version of myself. And you can see how that can get in the way of real vulnerability because there are times when your head is in the proverbial toilet bowl and you’re suffering terribly. But if you’re always feeling the pressure to seem perfect you can’t be real or authentic with your friends. I’ve struggled with that for most of my life.

But then when my “perfect” marriage fell apart, I started to explore what’s behind the myth of perfection for me. If I’m not in this perfect marriage, with this perfect family of 5, blahditty blah blah, who am I? So I began dismantling myself to really explore what’s behind the mask. Ironically, it happened during COVID so the mask takes on a different connotation as well. 🤪

So during this time, I became very close with two friends. Our friendships predated Covid, but certainly after my separation the relationships deepened. After all, how deep can I be with my friends if I’m giving off the facade and impression that everything is perfect in my life and I have the perfect marriage when I hadn’t slept with him for years. There was a level of inauthenticity that, no matter how close I wanted to be with my friends, I could never achieve because I was living a lie - even to myself.

So as the other stuff started to unravel, there were definitely new levels of intimacy that I explored, particularly with these two friends who are so, so dear to me. If you read or listened to last week’s Substack, you know that recently I got some bad health news. I happened to be with my best friend David when I got the phonecall from the radiologist and he was of enormous support to me that day. But as I started to learn the choreography of Cancer, because it has it’s own dance, I had to learn those steps and get light on my feet pretty quickly. He was right there dancing beside me.

Then there came the moment when I had to start meeting with surgeons. And in the past, of course, I would have gone with my husband. Now I have an incredible significant other that I love so much…he is so supportive and loving, but for whatever reason I didn’t want to bring him into it. I wanted to go with David. But I felt like it was a big ask, for whatever reason. To me, it felt like a big ask. Probably because I’d never felt comfortable asking or taking. I’d always felt more comfortable giving. But I did. I asked. And David said yes.

Oh but that first appointment! 🤦🏻‍♀️ There was a moment…now don’t ask me why, but I thought these meetings would be more professional and less medical with the surgeons looking at the film and talking to us about options. But no! I had to disrobe. Now David is a gay and happily married man so he doesn’t care about my boobs. But still! I’m sitting in front of him, he’s seeing my completely battered breast. And suddenly the surgeon exclaims, “Oh! You have a third nipple!” And yes, by the way reader, I DO have a third nipple. I’ve known this my whole life. I’ve kind of buried it because who wants to think about their third nipple? It’s not really obvious, it’s in the fold underneath my left breast but WHATEVER it was kind of mortifying for David to find out from this guy that I have a third nipple. The surgeon’s going on and on like, “I bet you always thought this was a mole! But it’s actually a third nipple!” I was thinking, “Thank you! Yes, I’ve always known it was a third nipple! Let’s move on! Can we stop talking about it now??” I’m dying laughing at the memory. These kind of messy, embarrassing moments in front of this man, who is my best friend, definitely took our friendship to the next level.

This is the first time poor Anthony is hearing about my third nipple. 😅

When it was time for the next appointment, once again I felt bad asking David. But once again I gave myself the nudge and thank goodness he came so we were able to compare the doctors and we made an informed choice that we both felt really good about. It was life changing on many levels.

Now I also have another best friend. I’m always holding a respectful boundary with her that definitely stems from my childhood. But in advance of my operation she said, I want to be there for you after the surgery, at least let me bring food. And I was very uncomfortable at the idea. I was thinking, Uhh….what if I look terrible? What if I smell terrible? What if I feel terrible. What if I don’t want to see anyone and I’m irritable? Will I have to pretend to be nice? I just didn’t know how I was going to feel afterward. My partner, Anthony, was going to be with me as well as one of my children. I was okay being a hot mess in front of them. But could I be a hot mess in front of this lovely, beautiful friend? I never had before. I’d always been a kind of put together mom at school (our children go to school together). But she is very important to me, so I met her invitation for deepening and said YES. I’m sure she felt my discomfort so she very generously left things in my hands and said that she could always have the food dropped off and not come over if I didn’t want to see anyone. But in the end, I did have her come over. I was on the couch and who KNOWS what I looked or smelled like. I know I FELT like I’d been run over by a truck. But she came and sat with us. It felt good to allow someone who I love so much see me in such a vulnerable state.

I used to think that to take a friendship or relationship to the next level, you kind of have to do something good and BIG together. Like last year, David and I went to Egypt and it did deepen our relationship. But going through something kind of ugly and messy together has deepened the relationship in a much more profound way and it has allowed me to share a part of myself that people seldom get to see. And so, that’s it. I just wanted to talk about friendship and how we have these people in our lives who we can talk about television shows with or other people with 👀 or just enjoy a nice evening out with. But these are also people we can show our proverbial third nipple to and in doing so there’s an alchemy that happens, a richness that I feel really really makes life better. That creates this palpable sense of belonging. I feel really honored to have had this experience. And it’s part of what makes me feel so positive about this goofy health thing that’s happening in my life. Had this not happened, my relationship with these two people that were already my best friends wouldn’t have deepened the way that it has. So I continue to sit with gratitude and float in love. And that’s all she wrote, folks.

Thank you you for listening to me. I love you guys. I’m feeling good. Tomorrow is Easter. I’m going to my boyfriend’s house…welll…his family’s house. It was funny when I was checking in at the hospital, he was my…I think they called it “supportive caregiver”…and the receptionist was like “Well, what’s your relationship?” And saying “boyfriend” at my age just feels so embarassing. So I simultaneously squeaked and cringed, “He’s my boyfriend?” And she was like, “Girl, we’re going to call him your life partner. I’m your officiant and from this moment on, I now pronounce you life partners.” And he is. I love him so much and I’m so excited to be sharing Easter with his family. Wishing you, dear reader, a Happy Easter, a Happy Passover and again, thanks for listening. I love you.

xo, atoosa

Atoosa Unedited
Atoosa Unedited
When your life gets bat sh*t crazy, I can help.
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Atoosa Rubenstein