Have you ever gone through something which makes you feel absolutely alone only to have one conversation with a friend to find out that you’re not alone?
Experiencing my first prolapse and the partial hysterectomy was incredibly difficult. I was in my late 20s and truly felt like a failure at womanhood. I had difficulties with intimacy, my husband at the time thought I was having an affair because I couldn’t be intimate with him. I had to comfort and assure him that he was perfect and ok, it was “just me.” Meanwhile, I was in turmoil. I didn’t feel like a young woman in her prime. I lost the one organ that truly belonged to the woman. I mourned the loss of my uterus like we mourn the loss of a loved one, but I didn’t shed a tear in front of anyone.
At first, I denied how the hysterectomy made me feel. I’ve said it many times and it’s in my posts, I joke about my life constantly. I can describe the most painful thing in my life in a way that brings you to tears – tears of laughter. I hid the way my prolapse, hysterectomy, complications and the isolation I felt with jokes and more isolation. In fact, it wasn’t until I started blogging almost a year ago that many people in my life even knew I experienced the prolapses and had hysterectomy at a young age.
Time to listen
Over the years, I know I avoided the gynecologist and ignored the pain that continued. I had scar tissue and other problems that still made my life as a woman difficult, embarrassing even.
Through opening up about my lack of perfect health, many women have approached me with similar stories of what they have experienced over the years. At first it felt a little strange to have women I didn’t personally know reach out. I wasn’t sure how to react until I figured out that my true opportunity was to listen. It’s overwhelming, really. With many, a virtual hug is all that’s possible but there are people in my daily circle with whom I’ve shared a few stories, laughed and choked back a tear or two and given a real hug.
What makes us vulnerable
Last week, a colleague who has become a good friend over the last year opened up to me about an intimate problem she is having that is very similar to what I’ve been going through the last seventeen years. Neither of us had been able to have comfortable intimacy due to health problems and agreed it sucked.
Because she is a colleague, I really had to figure out how far I could go in our conversation. I have a habit of shocking people and since we work together, I didn’t want to scar her image of me! As our conversation continued, I thought “screw it,” this is the era of #metoo. Why can’t that also apply to the areas of life that make us vulnerable, hostage and victims of society? I told her stories that had her laughing loudly, leaning towards me with empathy and acknowledging that she is also going through something similar.
As we sat at the wine bar, the Christmas decorations in a beautiful bokeh behind her, I listed while my friend described what she’s going through and the path she’s been on to figure out what the problem is. We had so much in common through our pain, it was amazing. We both viewed each other as women who look healthy, are successful at what we set out to achieve and that sexual satisfaction or the ability to feel like a ‘true woman’ came naturally. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
To any stranger in the bar watching us talk, we looked like two women who found the best deals on Christmas gifts because as we talked, our faces lit up with mutual understanding. What we were doing was way better than sharing shopping stories, our souls were connecting on a very personal and painful topic. It felt good to connect on this level. We shared a lot of intimate details that we had in common, it felt like we had a million ‘a-ha’ moments in a matter of seconds. It honestly let us know we are not alone!
Apparently, one third of women have painful intercourse, but hardly any women open up about it. I’m not talking about the obvious reasons for painful intercourse like lack of lubrication. I am talking about the constant and severe pain that pretty much writes off sexual intimacy completely. Through my prolapse issues and the scar tissue on the vaginal wall, sexual intimacy was virtually impossible and my relationship suffered. It would have been great if KY could have saved me, but unfortunately my problems required surgeries, patience and a lot of soul searching to heal. The soul searching side of things makes me question why we aren’t talking to each other. There is strength in coming together. I lived years in shame and embarrassment and I can’t really figure out why.
I used to think that not talking about these things made me a stronger woman. Since I took the huge step forward to open up and talk about what I’ve been going through on my blog, I have a newfound strength and peace. No longer do I have the “why me” moments. Now I feel like I have a “sister” around the corner and a #youtoo feeling when someone opens up and shares their story with me. The bonding I am experiencing through listening to others share their experiences with me has been helping me to heal from my years of suffering.
Ladies, I know it might be hard to fathom at first, but if you are experiencing a hysterectomy, painful intercourse, a prolapse or anything that makes you feel you’re alone – reach out and talk to someone. As I’ve learned, you can bond over faulty vaginas in a bar through the slightest reference in a conversation!