Whenever I would read about a woman whose husband was leading a double life, I’d think she had to be a totally clueless moron, but then I became that woman.
I realized women aren’t morons — sociopaths are just incredible liars. A lot of people use the word sociopath freely when, quite frankly, they are just referring to assholes. I’ve come across many assholes in my life but only one true sociopath. Unfortunately, he was my husband. The man I built a life with for over a decade, had a 1-year-old baby girl with and thought I knew better than anyone in the world, I didn’t know at all. On a normal day, finding out your husband was paying to have sex with transsexual prostitutes is the kind of news that could be very upsetting, but nothing could trump the child porn I found on his computer. I kicked my husband out of the house and became a single mom. I also secretly started working with the police to protect my baby girl and other children from men like my ex.
For the next few months, my life was filled with over-the-top, high stakes drama. My only salvation was watching preschool TV with my daughter; Nick Jr. became my new best friend. Slowly the fog started to clear a bit and I made the decision to start dating again. Somehow, I felt like if I was good enough to put on some lipstick and go on a date, my life wasn’t completely broken.
I was finally starting to get my mojo back when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I made the decision to get a double mastectomy. I cried when the doctor informed me the whole process would take at least six months, culminating with my cherries on top. “I didn’t know there would be these scars going across my breasts! I thought I’d be coming out with a boob job,” I shrieked.
“No, Lisa, after your breasts are removed, we just start the reconstructive surgery. I go in and put expanders where your breasts once were, that stretch out your skin. A few months later, we do the implant surgery. When that heals, I make nipples from your scar tissue, wait for them to heal, tattoo them and then we’re done.”
To which I replied, “I’m a single mom, my ex is a pedophile and I just started dating again!” I had finally gotten used to giving that disclosure and now I have to say I’m losing my breasts, too? Who’s gonna want to date me?
My first few days in the hospital were a beautiful morphine-colored blur. By day four, I was a little more lucid. I looked down at where my breasts once were, and there were these two little baby anthills. In the middle of my anthills, there were lines going across. I started to see these lines as my war wounds, and they didn’t look as bad as I expected.
I made the decision to not let little things like reconstructive breast surgery, not having nipples and having scars get in the way of my dating life. But I knew that I would have to give a disclosure before I took off my top so someone wouldn’t be surprised. I made a habit of telling everyone on the first date that I was a single mom, my ex is a pedophile and I just had my breasts removed so I’m under reconstruction. My aunt thought I was crazy to disclose so much. I just knew I couldn’t do dating small talk, and if it scared someone away, so be it.
For the next two years I went on over 50 first dates under reconstruction. I became a player in the most superficial city in the world and my line was “I have no nipples.” The dating became my romantic comedy that helped me get through the tragic, dramatic, psychological thriller my life had become.
The first guy I slept with in my reconstructive state, when I told him about my situation, asked me if I had any nipples yet and I said no, “I’m just like Barbie.” I showed him my breasts, we had great sex and were involved for four months. He said to me, “You know what’s so sexy about you? It’s how comfortable you are in your body.”
He was right. I felt sexier and more comfortable in my body than I had ever been! Look, I don’t have nipples, you think a little cellulite is gonna bring me down? There was something so unexpectedly liberating about not having nipples. It’s like any ideal of perfection I could have ever hoped for, went out the window with my breasts.
“Hi, I’m Lisa. I’m a single mom, my ex is a pedophile and I don’t have nipples yet. I’m under reconstruction. Nice to meet you.” This was also the line I used when I met my current husband. I am now cancer-free and got married this year to the amazing man I met on my nipple-less dating spree. He is a wonderful husband and father to my daughter.
I once heard someone say, “Life isn’t about surviving the storm, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” I’m happier and more content in my life than I’ve ever been. And so much of what I’ve learned over the last few years wasn’t in spite of the storm, but because of it. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
Lisa’s final show, “Dating in L.A. With No Nipples,” is this Wednesday and all proceeds benefit StandUp2Cancer.