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Two years ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I’d just had major abdominal surgery.

But why? I hear the three porn bots who routinely scour my blog to leave hilariously spammy messages crying in their mechanical voice(s). Why would you have surgery? Was it a boob job? A lobotomy? Did you actually find someone to give you a third arm?

No, no, I say, sitting back in my chair and slurping my coffee loudly. Nothing so dramatical.

I’d gone under the knife two years ago (right before a trip to Vegas!) to have a full abdominoplasty.

Well, I hear the porn bots beeping and booping, what on EARTH did you need that for? Are you just a vain bitch?

Yes and no, I reply, still slurping my coffee.

You see, I’m built with the approximate proportions of a daddy long-legs spider — all legs with practically no torso. That means that I’m freakish looking on a good day and while pregnant with my kids, that I carry them RIGHT out there — as in, my pregnant torso entered rooms a full five minutes before the rest of me waddled in. (I also appear to carry them in my ass, but that’s neither here nor there). The spider-like pregnancies left my abdominal muscles both screaming and groaning, the muscles actually weeping whenever I dared to do such things as “sit up.” Laying down, I could nearly sink my fist through the hole left in my abs and grab out my entrails, should I have been so inclined.

(thankfully, porn bots, I never was. I may wear a #1 finger for encased meats, but the thought of all those delicious beef lips and assholes wrapped in my own innards is semi off-putting.)

Let’s not even mention that three babies at 8 pounds a piece + 60 pounds of baby weight = loose skin I could probably have worn as a nice skin scarf, should I have chosen.

And I was born, not only with the bladder of a squirrel, but with something my mother affectionately refers to as The Sherrick Pot-Belly, which meant that even if I went the anorexic route, I’d still look 3 months pregnant.

I’d originally gone into the plastic surgeons to see about a boob job — these puppies are huge and with migraines and neck issues, I figured a reduction might be the ticket to a pain-free life (hey, after it’s been suggested that you inject botulism toxin into your fucking neck, the idea of a boob reduction seems almost… fun).

He took one look at my melons and informed me that insurance would scoff at my claim. Plus, he said, I’d probably end up looking freakish, unless I got a complete boob job. Which was something like 9+ hours on the OR table.

But he looked down and noted my gut and had me lay back. He sucked his breath in as he noted the gaping space between the abdominal muscles formerly known as mine, and suggested that I may benefit further from a full abdominoplasty.

(quick dance interlude:

Partial Abdominoplasty = mostly liposuction and removal of loose skin.

Complete Abdominoplasty = removes excess skin and reshapes the abdominal muscles in those who have had pregnancies like mine, wherein the muscles of the abdomen are separated.

/end scene)

He then suggested that fixing the core muscles of my abdomen may help with my neck and migraine issues. I could’ve kissed him. I’d always planned to have a partial abdominoplasty someday in the very distant future, but the suggestion of a life without pain made baby angels weep with the awesome.

The surgery was fine, as far as surgeries go — I didn’t die on the table or anything — and I even got some pretty nifty drains sticking out of either side of me, which made me kinda feel bionic and wish that I’d asked him to put in some steel plates or machines in my gut, further allowing me to become partially robotic.

The recovery, though, can best be described as excruciating. Turns out, that even my wonky abdominal muscles had been doing their thang, which meant that I spent many hours laying on the couch, trying to ascertain whether or not peeing myself was a better option than trying to get to the bathroom. It took weeks to be able to stand long enough to shower. It took nearly a year for me to regain full control of my muscles again.

But, I know you porn bots are trying to figure out, was the surgery worth it? Have your migraines stopped?

The answer is somewhere in the middle. The migraines are still there, but they’re slightly more manageable, which is FULL of the awesome. And the results, well, I’ll leave you to see them (I’m sorry I have no before snaps for you):

Two Years Post abdominoplasty

And no, this was not shot in softcore mode – I simply don’t own a full-length mirror.

Also: I am not colored like an oompa-loompa. Apparently, the lighting in my bedroom is mood-lighting. Which may explain why my cat opts to lick his bung on my bed rather than the floor.

My kids are all about superheros these days.

Specifically, Batman. Now, when I was a kid (cracks knuckles, grabs cane and tries to figure out how to use cell phone), I had almost zero interest in superheros. I had no imagination, and save for the Wonderwoman training bra I wore religiously — without, I should add, the need for it — I couldn’t care LESS about superheros.

It’s probably because I had no imagination and preferred digging in the dirt, which is shockingly similar to what I’m like these days. Gimmie worms and other creepy crawlers and an old copy of Grey’s Anatomy and I’m golden.

But my kids. No. They’re insistent upon this superhero thing, which is handy because some toy company was all, WE SHOULD BRING BACK BATMAN AND ALLLLL THE SUPERHEROS, which means that the kids are in toy heaven.

It also made Halloween shopping much easier:

Me: “Whatchu wanna be for Halloween, Alex? THE LAND SHARK?”

Alex: “Batman.”

Me (sighs): “Okay, Mimi, what about you? What do YOU want to be for Halloween?”

Mimi: “Batman.”

Alex: “Mama, what’s your costume going to be?”

Me: “Ummm….”your mom!”” I snickered as I said that, because while it’s true – YOUR MOM.

Alex: “No, that’s what you are EVERY day.”

Me: “Um…Twitter Fail Whale?”

Alex (flatly): “No.”

Me: “Fine, okay, what should I be?”

Alex and Mimi (in unison): “CATWOMAN.”

Okay, I thought, I could work with this shit. Until yesterday morning, when I awoke and realized that I owned almost nothing black (my brother went through a long-lasting black phase and I’ve been scarred ever since).

Hrms, I thought. Had it not been -2726 degrees last night, I’d have worn one of my thousands (okay three – but they were bridesmaids dresses) black dresses and gone all Glamor Shots Catwoman. Instead, after pouring through my closet, I decided that I could go as Cat-Burglar Catwoman. Just needed some black shit and some fucking eye makeup and fuck yeah! Catwoman/Cat-Burglar!

I grabbed a black v-neck shirt, some ugly black yoga pants, and decided that I’d bling the shit out of it after I picked up J from kindergarten. I could hardly wait to see his reaction (and by “hardly wait,” I mean, “I knew he was going to bitch”).

“Check it out, Al,” I showed him as we buckled up on our way from kindergarten to preschool. “I’m Catwoman!”

He looked at me doubtfully.

“No, you’re not,” he said. “You don’t have a tail, ears or ANYTHING. You need a costume.”

When I dropped him off at preschool and showed his sister, she was equally disdainful of my outfit. “Mama,” she said, hands on her hips, “you need to go to The Target Store and get a REAL costume.”

I sighed as I bid them farewell. I’d been hoping to avoid spending money on a costume — but Halloween is once a year and I knew it’d make them SO happy if were able to pull something together. Off to one of those stupid-looking costume boutiques I went, hoping for a fucking miracle. Who the balls goes shopping on HALLOWEEN?

(answer: me)

I went inside, and noted that all of the women’s costumes could easily double as hooker apparel – it was like walking into Sluts-r-Us, and if I’d had a kickin’ Halloween party to go to, well, that’d be another story entirely. Instead, I was going out WITH MY CHILDREN.

I found the Catwoman costume right away — it looked like one of those body suits interpretive dancers wear (Now, students, ACT LIKE THE SALAD! BE the salad!).

No.

Fucking.

Way.

Next to it, I noted that they had a Robin costume. Okay, I thought. Robin waits in the car anyway, and shit, this is better than looking like I might begin interpretive dancing as a microwave while we tricked and treated.

I scoured the store to see if I could find something more reasonable and/or less slutty, but no. This is the costume I found:

robin waits in the car

Which is bad enough, but I figured I could de-slut it a bit, considering I was taking my KIDS trick-or-treating and not going to a hooker convention. I decided to show it to a few friends so they could share in the horror, and was aghast to discover this:

robin waits in the car

Blech.

Batman “Secret Wishes” Robin Costume? Double gag. Especially since, given my way, I’d have gone as the Land Shark, considering NOT ONE OF MY CHILDREN IS INTO THAT COSTUME IDEA (mostly because they’re boring).

I’d warned Dave that my costume looked like it’d come from Tramps R Us, and showing him the link on Amazon, he just laughed at me. Through clenched fingers, I typed, “I’m ONLY doing this because it’ll make the kids happy.” He laughed harder.

I dressed myself, throwing a pair of pants on under the slut suit, and headed over to Dave’s house, doing the whole walk of shame up to the driveway, hoping my neighbors wouldn’t mistake me for a prostitute.

The kids, upon seeing me, screamed happily, “OH MOM, YOU LOOK AWESOME! LOOK YOU’RE ROBIN AND WE’RE BATMANS! THIS IS SO COOL!”

robin waits on the sidewalk

“Better than the Catwoman outfit, huh?” I asked them, as they tore into the candy Dave’d bought for the trick-or-treaters, knowing that plying them with chocolate is practically a Halloween law, and shit, I didn’t want to get all sued by the Halloween police.

“YES!” They chirped happily. I smiled, still feeling absurd.

I mean, how can you NOT if this is your outfit?

robin waits on the sidewalk

The glee is CLEARLY evident on my face. The very least the manufactures could’ve done is NOT give me the world’s most absurd cape. The thing was like two inches long and seriously, I know Robin waits in the car and shit, but really? Alfred should’ve made the dude a REAL cape.

Luckily, I managed to mostly cover myself up so I didn’t appear as though I, too, was on the prowl for some candy and/or offering a BJ:

Robin Waits On The Sidewalk

Thank the Good Lord Of Butter that Robin waits on the sidewalk.

Shortly after the whole nervous breakdown/divorce/get the nuts out of my house debacle, a friend of mine took my tearful ass out to catch a cup of coffee. Over coffee, he asked me simply: “What do YOU want?”

I sat there stunned, holding two packets of Equal, googling at him as though he’d suddenly grown a head from his shoulders.

“What I want?” I sputtered when I finally could make my vocal cords work again.

“Yeah,” he replied. “Becks, what do YOU want?”

Slowly, I shook my head side-to-side. No one had ever asked me what I wanted, unless they were looking for an answer like, “An Uncrustable,” or “John C. Mayer’s head on a platter so it cannot sing “Your Body Is A Wonderland EVER AGAIN.”

I didn’t answer him; I couldn’t.

Not because I didn’t want to respond to the question, but because I hadn’t thought about what I wanted in many years – that’s part of being a parent, a writer, a wife, the caretaker to many – you don’t have the option of putting yourself first. It’s not a dig at any of those roles, it simply is. How can you possibly nurse a migraine in a dark room with an icepack on your head if it’s going to lead to resentments from your partner or simply impossible – thanks to a gaggle of kids who’d prefer to poke you in the eyes and ask the same question 10382 times? The answer is that you can’t. Not often, anyway, and certainly not without a glistening pile of guilt.

I’ve been living on my own for a full month now. I have enough to pay rent (although that bitch Sandy is going to sorely affect my ability to freelance, considering NYC apparently looks like a zombie apocalypse has swept through it), which makes me beyond proud. I did it. I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to do it alone, but I was wrong – the fear is a lying liar who lies.

In one month, I’ve spent more time thinking about the future I want to have, The Happyness I need to find, and what happens next than I have in 9 years. I’d put all plans for having my own life on a shelf, just out of reach, once I got married to a workaholic, popped out two more kids, and began blogging as a way to find the community, the friends I so desperately craved.

It was a full life, but it was a lonely one.

That’s not to say I have regrets – I don’t. But I’m left grasping at straws and rediscovering who Becky Sherrick Harks really is, beyond a mother, freelance writer, leader of a non-profit and blogger. Certainly these jobs I cherish, but we all know, Pranksters, that there’s more to be done. I don’t want to be an old woman, sitting on the porch, wishing she’d taken that risk, chased that dream, followed her heart.

So I won’t.

Divorce doesn’t mean that my life is over; that I’ll never find love again, I’ll be stuck in front of the TV night after night watching Dexter reruns, pretending to be married to men from television. Divorce doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly going to become a crazy cat lady or hoarder or a recluse who collects her pee in jars. The things that have changed are those that needed to be changed in order for the next part of my life to begin. It’s time for me to find those dreams left trapped in a jar (clarification: not pee-filled jars) on a shelf somewhere, dust off the cobwebs and figure out what, exactly, I want to do with the next chapter of my life.

This is my life to live. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow or next week. I don’t have any way of knowing if the dreams I once had will have stood the test of time. If they have, I will chase my heart. If they have not, I will find a new dream. Life has a weird way of working out like that.

I can hardly wait to see where it takes me.

P.S. Giving away a copy of my book here.

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