Rhymes with Christmas

Here we go. I wanted to write about this when I was totally healed and good and there was a happy ending because I like happy endings. But, we’re going to go with a sort of content somewhere-in-the-middle.

I have a condition called Vaginismus. It rhymes with Christmas, but it’s not even close to joyful. There’s a lot to say, but I’m going to try and make this post a quick-ish rundown. Vaginismus is when the muscles in your pelvic floor are so tight, they can’t relax. Imagine having a clenched fist that you can’t unclench, because you’ve never known what it felt like to be unclenched. You can’t hold anything in it. It won’t open. Some treatments for Vaginismus recommend contracting and relaxing your muscles repeatedly. Mine was to the point where I couldn’t contract anymore and had to focus on just relaxing. When I tried to contract my eyebrows would go up, there just wasn’t anything left to contract.

So how do you learn to relax those muscles? In my experience, if you go to an OBGYN they yell at you, yes, literally yelled, “just relax, just relax!” …Which makes it really easy to relax. Or you go to another one that shakes his head, says, “Try relaxing” and prescribes you some anti-anxiety medicine. Or you go to a doctor who doesn’t believe what you’re saying is even true and that you’re just fine.

No tampons, nothing else can enter. When I was a thirteen-year-old girl trying to use tampons, I thought I was just an idiot who couldn’t find my vagina. No combination of mirrors and flashlights helped me find that elusive hole…Because essentially, it wasn’t there.

As you can imagine, it caused more problems as I got older and wanted other things to go in that elusive hole. Do not pass go, do not collect anything good or fun or convenient in your life.

Some people have less severe cases that result in painful sex. For me, it was just impossible. And also painful. The symptoms vary, but if you’re having pain know there are probably answers.

And the only reason I’m writing this now is because I think the best thing I can do is create awareness, even if it’s with my limited audience. I couldn’t find anything useful online. A lot more of, “just relax” and if you’re relaxed and in the mood enough, it’ll just work. Well, it didn’t work. There’s a lot of bad information out there.

My physical therapist put it best, I think, when she said, “I don’t care how ‘relaxed’ you are, I want you to get rid of all this tension.”

I did not know pelvic floor physical therapists were a thing. I went to a sex therapist because the general consensus is that it’s all in your head. She had the sense to send me to a PT to rule out the physical first. That’s when I started to get answers.

Side note: Vaginismus can be caused by trauma or shameful thoughts surrounding sex and many treatments involve a combination of mental and physical therapy. For my case, I found it was mostly physical. But usually, it’s a two-prong approach to treatment.

What is going to a pelvic physical therapist like? Slightly traumatizing and emotionally draining. But I love mine because she treated me like an old friend. Somehow, perhaps because the nature of her job is so awkward, she was able to joke around while her finger went where nothing had gone before. We’re talking internal physical therapy here. It’s a whole new ball game. She did massage on the outside as well. She said these tension problems contributed to/were connected to other problems I’ve had as long as I can remember, such as stomach issues, sore shoulders, tension headaches, etc. She told me I need to practice relaxing my ears and my butt cheeks. She asked me if I clenched my jaw. I said, no. The next week I paid attention and it turns out, yes, I definitely do. Aren’t bodies fascinating? Everything is connected.

The thing with the physical therapist was she only went as far as I was comfortable, then helped me relax, and the proceeded, then stopped. It was a much better experience than I had had with other doctors. A lot of times it seems like just forcing it or pushing through the pain is a solution, but your body will fight back against that, because its job is to protect you from painful things. I was annoyed with it, but it was just doing its job.

I’m writing this because I was too embarrassed to get help and as a result, I suffered too long and too much. I want girls to know that not being able to use a tampon might not just mean you’re geographically-biologically challenged. I want OBGYNs to recognize this as a possibility. Apparently, most aren’t trained in muscular-skeletal issues, but they are who most people go to first when they have vaginal issues. It may feel like there are no answers because you’re looking in the wrong place.

Women’s reproductive health is hard. It’s all up there. We can’t see it. Even supposed experts don’t seem to know much about it. There are answers out there but you have to dig to find them, but there are resources, for vaginismus at least, a lot of other pelvic floor disorders or sexual dysfunctions don’t even have names. Some people are in pain constantly. Some people can’t wear tight pants or stand up for long periods of time. It’s time to stop neglecting our pelvises. We’ve got a lot of work to do, research-wise. It’s the core of our body. It’s not just sexual health, it’s overall health. It affects women and the people who love them.

We won’t get into it now, but here’s a quick reminder about part of the reason we don’t know much about female sexual disorders: “PubMed has 393 clinical trials studying dyspareunia. Vaginismus? 10. Vulvodynia? 43. Erectile dysfunction? 1,954.” (This is a good article).

Once someone told me this thing had a name my Google searches got more productive. I cried as I read stories of people who had struggled with the same thing. I was/am far from alone. If you’re struggling with something similar, you are not alone. One group calls Vaginismus a “private pain.” It’s an area we have deemed private, but you do not have to suffer privately.

My first gynecologist appointment I was in pain for over a week after. People will say that’s normal. Or they won’t say anything at all.

It’s not normal. Pain is not normal.

It hurts your body. And it hurts your self-esteem.

Here’s someone else’s story that resonated with me:
“I always felt like I was damaged goods. I looked normal on the outside, but I didn’t feel worthy because I couldn’t do the most basic thing that everyone else could do. Because it’s not something that’s all over the newspapers, I just had no idea where to get help. I just blamed myself. If I was a guy, I’d know what was wrong. We all talk about their erectile problems; we know there are pills for it. When I hear couples say that they can’t have kids, I often wonder if this is why. It’s not something you can ask someone.
When you leave the office where I was treated, you’re given this little magical pink bag, which had our “homework” assignments in it. I remember in the waiting room, whenever I would see a woman come out with one, I’d wonder: Does she have what I have? But nobody would speak up. There was such a taboo around it even though it was clear we are all suffering from the same thing. I wonder if those other women wanted to talk to each other as much as I did.” (What It’s Like to Have Severe Vaginismus)

I’m done not talking about it. I’m no expert. But I can try and point you in the right direction if you need help.

Letters to Heaven

Dear God,

Give me your strength. All of it. I know you have all power so give it to me. Open my heart wide open and fill it with love. Fill it with so much love it cannot feel hate. Take the hate I have away on the wind. Let the feelings I have pass through me and pass on. Give me the power and strength I need to use that love to change the world. To change someone’s world. Let me know what talents I have and how to use them. Bless the people I love with the same strength and love and the strength to overcome. Help me to move forward. Give me bravery and vulnerability and help me to better understand how those two are intertwined.

Dear Norah Ephron,

Give me the creativity and whimsy to write something like When Harry Met Sally. Guide my pen and my mind to make people laugh and help people see the ups and downs in love. Help my jaded heart use my experiences for good and for creating. Guide me to Mindy Kaling (and/or my own Matt Warburton) so we can worship you together. The world misses you. Help me fill that void that 90s RomComs left that has only slightly been filled by films like Bridget Jones’s Baby. I want to write movies and books and plays. Make me just like you, in my own way.

Dear Kate Spade,

How do we help people who have the shadow of depression as a constant companion? I can empathize and I still don’t know what would help, what can we do? You spent your life creating things that brought whimsy and joy to the world. You and Robin Williams spent so much of your life making people smile while a torment raged inside. How do we stop equating outward success with inner peace? How do we help teenagers or other people who have even less resources? How can we convince people life is worth living when it gets so hard sometimes? Too many people and too many artists are taking their own lives and leaving us without all the goodness they have to share. And it makes me feel so helpless. So please get Robin, Van Gogh, Marilyn, Hemingway, Woolfe, and the countless young actors and musicians together and come up with a solution and let me know. Thanks.

22:22-22:32

I told myself that if I made it through today I would reward myself with writing something I wanted to write…But what do I want to write? It’s 22:22 right now as I look at the clock so I can force myself to write for ten minutes without stopping.

Basically these days I just have Hamilton lyrics going through my head. So when I think, what do I want to talk about? I want to talk about Partisan fighting, grab a pen start writing. 

I don’t really want to talk about partisan fighting. I want to talk about nothing. I want to talk about how I hate my transcription job and the main reason is that it makes me do a double space after a period so writing this I am overthinking how many spaces to do after a period because I’m a one space girl. I’m thinking about how grammerly is correcting me as I go, including how I misspelled Grammarly…and misspelled.

Sometimes I feel stuck. Do you ever feel that? Like, you want to change something about yourself or your life so badly, but you just can’t. And you don’t know why. And you go searching for answers. And sometimes you don’t find the answers. Sometimes you don’t even have the words to explain how you’re feeling or what’s wrong. Sometimes you can’t possibly know what is causing what which is causing something else.

I wish I was a perfect person. I wish I could float through life without ever offending anyone or accidentally being mean. I wish I was pure and clear as glass. I wish I communicated what I felt. I wish I knew what I was feeling enough to even begin to communicate it. I wish I could be more vulnerable. I wish being vulnerable didn’t hurt. I wish hurting didn’t lead to so much growth. I wish I didn’t believe growing was part of life.

I wish everything worked out how I wanted it to. I wish I didn’t keep getting rejected by things and people I want to accept me. I wish being brave wasn’t so hard. I wish I was strong enough to not be shattered by every rejection.  When most of them aren’t personal. And the ones that are personal are one person’s opinion.

Ten minutes is a long time.

I am not a perfect person. I’m messy. Figuratively and literally. I feel too much and not enough. I’m so emotional and yet somehow still closed off. My main goal in life is just to help people and I don’t even do it all that well. My heart is broken. My brain feels fuzzy. My body is literally a tense mess that can’t do all the things I want it to. I don’t deserve anything from anybody. I think I’ll get everything I want in life, but I also have a low self-esteem. I mess up every single day. I don’t even want to be around me sometimes. But when my heart stops racing and I breathe in and out I remember and realize that I do love myself and I am worth something.

And then I feel like I’m not allowed to feel those feelings. Because, logically, I’m worth nothing. I canceled my life insurance policy, because who cares. People say they’ll hire me, then don’t. People say they’ll be there for me always, then don’t. And I’m the common denominator.

I didn’t mean to end this on a downer, but that’s ten minutes.

Give yourself permission to feel what you need to feel. Especially if that feeling is that you’re good enough. You’re allowed to feel that. For some reason, we’re wired or taught to think we can’t love ourselves with our flaws. We can, I just don’t know how yet.

Stuff for Your Body

I can’t think of anything to write about today so here are some products I love.  I love telling people about new, random things I love, but these items are actually ones that were recommended to me by friends.

Here are three things you can use to treat yourself and your body to some at-home luxury [click on photos to purchase].

1. Peanut Massager

Better than a regular massager because when you lay on it it can go on either side of your spine.  It is made of “soft yet dense silicone material” and comes in fun colors! It’s my best friend.


2. Crystal Natural Deodorant

I hate deodorant because every body is so different and I have tried roughly one million different natural/aluminum-free deodorants. But I love this one. I have no idea what is happening in the image on the container, but it gets the job done. The luxury part of this is that you don’t smell.


3. Silk Pillowcase

Not only does it feel luxurious, it’s good for your skin and hair. They’re less abrasive and they don’t try and suck the moisture out of you like other pillowcases. It’s probably the easiest thing you can do for your skin and hair and it’ll make you love sleeping even more than you already do.

Who You Are Right Now

Everyday. Ten Minutes. No stopping. Barely edited.

“There is no need to do anything but rest in the fullness of who you are right now.”

This is what a tarot card said to me last night, but it’s also pretty basic wisdom.

Is there anything scarier than being happy where we are? We are meant to always be striving to be better, to be improving, to be progressing. But what about being where we are?

It’s so much easier to look at what we don’t have, what isn’t perfect, what we’ve lost, what we’ve failed at. It feels productive to beat ourselves up. To keep “shoulding” ourselves. But maybe, everything is okay. We are always whole, even when we are broken.

“There is no need to do anything but rest in the fullness of who you are right now.”

I understand this intellectually and I see the truth of this statement but how do I actually feel it, how do I apply it to myself?

I feel restless in my own skin. It itches. I don’t like who I am physically. Not because of how I look, though sometimes it’s that too, but because I live in a body that doesn’t work how I want it to. Constant pain. Lack of coordination. Organs and muscles not functioning right. All things I can work on, but I’m not where or how I want to be now.

I can’t remember the last time I truly felt “good enough” just the way I was. In theory, I get it, I’m awesome and capable. But in practice, I’m just not enough.

“There is no need to do anything but rest in the fullness of who you are right now.”

I don’t feel full, I feel empty. But there are moments of calm when I feel like I can rest in the emptiness of who I am right now.

#3

Everyday. Ten Minutes. No stopping. Barely edited.

It’s only day three and too soon to give up. I had a haunting dream last night. And it haunted me all day. A little girl was mad, because things hadn’t gone her way. Is she my subconscious or is she someone real? She said I was supposed to be her mother. That I had to make things right and find her. I promised I would. I would find her, wherever she is. She said she didn’t know where she was going now. I told her I would find her. I would adopt her if she ended up in the wrong place or I would bring her into this world with my own body. Somehow. I don’t know if she’s already here somewhere or if she’s still waiting.

I have complicated feelings about motherhood. Because I know it’s in the cards for me. But I just don’t know how. There are many ways to be a mother.

I had visions of all the places this girl could be born. In Syria, in Africa, in Detroit, in Haiti, in Mexico, next door, or with me in a hospital with any number of men who could be her father. Any path could bring her to me.

Or maybe she is me. The me that is young, and wild, and free. Little girls are the strongest kind of people I know. They’re creative and resilient. They don’t mind skin knees and they hang upside down.

I’m afraid of motherhood. I don’t know if I want to have a little girl because I want to be a little girl again. I don’t want to worry what people think. I want to wear leggings and oversized t-shirts and pigtails.

I want to laugh and invent games with my friends and check out piles of books from the library.

I want to roll in the grass with my dog. I want the world where the only thing I had to blog about was puppies and the cast of Harry Potter. And quizzes about what kind of fruit I am.

I’m lucky because my childhood is not dead. My childhood friends are still close. Connected through social media and visits once or twice a year but always in my heart.

Little girls bend and do the splits like it’s nothing. Well, not me, I’ve never been able to touch my toes. Not even in grade school. But still, the sentiment of flexibility is there. But I’ve always had too much tension.

My body is full of tension and it finally caught up to me. It keeps me from doing all the things I want to. I don’t know if my small frame and strained muscles will ever be a home for new life. I never quite feel comfortable or free. But that’s a feeling that can come from within, despite the physical pain, we can be comfortable with ourselves.

I bought a house.

Everyday. Ten Minutes. No stopping. Unedited.
I don’t like poetry, but I do like spacing out lines…

I bought a house
Because I was suddenly homeless
So it seemed like the smart thing to do.

It has a great backyard
With a broken fence
And the cutest rooms
With slanted floors
And unsafe windows

Many things were surprisingly easy to fix
And many things are still broken

I live in a broken house
But I am broken too
And it was there for me
When I needed a roof

I bought a house
With a driveway that’s all cracked
And a garage door that won’t close
Or once it’s closed, it won’t open

The cabinets are ugly
But basically new
The lighting is fancy
And hard to replace
But easier when
You actually buy the right bulb

I was mad at first
That I left my nice house
For this.
It’s old and unloved
And garbage was left behind
That the water isn’t soft
And makes my hair a mess

But now I see
That this broken house is just like me
I moved in and was broken
And some things in me are easy to fix
And some are now permanently slanted
The foundation has changed
But that doesn’t mean
I can’t hold myself up

They tore up the walls
And dug up the ground
To make the windows bigger
“The wound is the place
Where the light enters you.”

This place is not permanent
Not a forever home
Because there’s no forever
No certainty in life anymore

But it is a place that was there
When I needed it most

And how can I be mad at this
imperfect house
When it’s
just
like
me?