5 Things I Have Learned From the Nippleless


Last year I was posting a lot of naked content (because I could not afford photoshoot wardrobe and boobs never go out of style).

Instagram doesn’t like that and didn’t hesitate to tell me.

While in one of my adult timeouts, I began contemplating how to beat the boob bullshit.

I landed on the idea that it would be easier to find a human without nipples than it would be to change Instagram’s assessment of areola.

Turns out I was right.

Big Brother or Zuckerberg or Jibbers must have been listening very carefully that evening (as I silently said all of this to myself) because about an hour after conceiving this concept, Priya popped up in my feed.

I like to think of myself as a exoteric esoteric and prefer to pair logic with life (because they often go hand in hand). But there are still so many questions surrounding what, why and how that leave room for the mind to wander.

What is the meaning of it all?

If there is one, why does suffering exist?

How does one sock always go missing from the dryer?

I love questions because avoidance is my favourite pass time. But sometimes you have to take things for what they are.

Meeting Priya Mistry has been one of those experiences.

I showed up to a random coffee date with an internet stranger and no expectations and left with an entirely different perception on pain.

The person across from me told me one of the most horrific stories I’ve ever heard of total medical system failure that I could never do justice in attempting to recount and KEEP INSISTING SHE NEEDS TO WRITE DOWN. She hasn’t written that out yet, but she does blog.

But she also had one of those almost annoyingly upbeat demeanours. That full teeth smile kind where you know they feel that happiness all the way from the outside in and you kinda want to step on their shoes to dull it a bit.

Just me?

She told me tales of radiated iodine and transatlantic treatment trips to trip and medicated tumour cooking mistletoe .

Coupled with intense isolation, excruciating physical and mental pain and the inevitable financial strain.

All with that same smile.

I kept trying to access her pain and she had no interest in really showing it to me. Not because it didn’t exist but because it wasn’t the important part - I just didn’t understand that yet.

She never denied its existence, but she never spent a moment living in it in front of me.

Then we did this:

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And then a lot of things changed for the both of us. We said something we hadn’t intended to say to a group of people we didn’t know were listening:

You are not your damage

I have always known and believed that, but was then presented with the opportunity and people wanting to see if they could feel the same.

I have since seen bodies and brains that have been brutalized - I say that with the utmost respect and admiration for those forced to wear the longterm marks of momentary negligence by both mother nature and man kind.

I have seen such a small fraction of the inhumane ways the sick and their support are treated.

I used to think I was among them and that my persisting pain and problems, mental and physical, are what helped me to relate to them.

But that’s not true and such a discredit to their strength - because the people I have met are in pain, but have no space for suffering.

They simply were not afforded the luxury of time to suffer and therefore they cannot.

I often complain that I hold my whole life in my hands because I work, live and function largely by myself.

I am far from lonely, but you will often find me alone; a choice made for self-preservation that comes with the downside of the unbridled growth responsibility.

And complaining can be such a cathartic pass time; better out than in we tell ourselves.

And then I found myself in rooms (because I put myself there) with people who had every right to complain.

As someone that has only seen the aftermath but never experienced the process, I would personally describe a mastectomy as having your tits ripped off.

How can you complain about pain when the person across from you has been psychologically and physically tortured, but sits there with a smile and continues to look like in the face and say “bring it”?

The answer is you can’t. The answer is you shut the fuck up and really try and take it in because they clearly have something you don’t because if someone came up to me and said “I’m going to rip your tits off and drain your bank account”, I’m not sure I’d ever feel like smiling again.

Yes seeing someone sicker than yourself reduces to the same conclusion as the starving kid in Africa debate; suffering is subjective and the greatest suffering you can only ever really understand is your own.

But by trying to genuinely see someone else’s, you may decrease the power of your own.

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I will always have pain because I can see my own asshole and that isn’t meant to be physically possible. But I can follow the amazing examples I have been presented with and choose not to suffer.

5 Things I Have Learned From the Nippleless

5. Pain is a matter of perception

Your life will change again and again and we will all go through cycles of suffering and success. What you choose to carry with you is often predetermined, but how heavy it feels is up to you.

4. Pain doesn’t (have to) mean pills

You can intervene on mental, physical and emotional pain in so many ways before taking a pill. When trying to correct a problem, we want to move right to solution versus work through research. Think about the fundamentals of pharmaceuticals - what are they?

Just another thing we have the option to ingest.

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We also ingest food and water. Pharmaceuticals can do a lot for us, but we did a lot before them too and we are too quick to “unintentionally forget” that their existence does not mean self maintenance is no longer mandatory.

3. Own the part you play

To find something that works, first you need to stop doing everything you’ve been doing while nothing has been working because chances are you’re causing some of your own pain.

Self awareness is earned, not granted.

We are mostly water, food fuels your mood and your mind is more powerful than you’re physically capable of understanding - but if you haven’t accepted that what you put into your body is what you’ll get out of your body, either physically or metaphysically, then you haven’t started giving a shit about what happens to your body.

2. Participate in your Pain

I know people that professionally get the shit kicked out of them on a semi daily basis.

I know people that elect to get the shit kicked out of them on a semi nightly basis.

I know people that had no say but to get the shit kicked out of them on a minute to minute basis.

What they all have in common is submission to the individual process. That does not mean “don’t fight”, but acceptance of what you can do and also what you do to yourself.

There are the things you can control and the things you can’t control - and then there are the things you don’t know you can’t control and the things you think you can’t control but actually can. Causation and causality are confusing cunts.

Are you doing what you can to improve your circumstance?

Are you doing things to make your circumstance worse?

Are you subconsciously sabotaging yourself?

Are you consciously sabotaging yourself?

Do you have access to the tools you need? Do you use them?

Remember your last good day - break it down into the smallest pieces you can.

Remember your last bad day - do the same.

And then ask yourself:

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1. You are not your damage

No matter what life has done to you, you are not that.

Life will continue to happen to you and you will continue to be an independent entity from your experiences.

You will be shaped and changed by them, but you are not them.

You can be a victim and survivor without surrendering your status as a human.

You can be mentally scarred and still strong.

You can be physically scarred and still sexy.

And if you doubt that, give me the chance to prove you wrong.

Taylor Oakes