dealing with pain and dysfunction


Dear Internets,

I’m going to be very awkward about writing here for awhile.  : (

I wish that weren’t the case, but it’s true.  If anything super ultra monumental happens (or the flipside, anything so inane that I wouldn’t mind sharing) I’ll blog it.  But it might take awhile to get back into the real entries.

If you have any questions or want advice or need someone to listen to you while you talk about your hurty vag, I’m all about it:  lal46@cornell.edu.  I just can’t do it publicly for a bit.  Of course I’ll still hang out at everyone else’s comment sections and various support groups though <3

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srs bzns.

(yes, the title is my effort to snarkily lash out against the way in which we tell our assault stories.  oh lulz, *sardonic grin* boys will be boys!  oh, ha ha, isn’t this an amusing anecdote about being sexually assaulted on a bus?)

This is the serious version of my last post.  A trigger warning applies to this entire post.  It makes me incredibly uncomfortable to talk about this openly.  If you are reading this as someone that knows me personally, please do not be offended that I typed this up instead of coming to talk to you about it.  There is no way that I could spit this out verbally.  I have had three therapists and have not come close to talking to them about it.  Until recently, I had not told myself.  What I repressed comes back to me in bits and pieces when I’m not ready for it.  What I remember I forced myself to define as “no big deal” or simply “part of growing up female.”  You will know if or when it is appropriate to discuss this in person with me.  I write this here because I feel that my past has contributed to my pelvic pain in ways that I am only just realizing.  I am using this space to work out my thoughts on this matter, and, like the rest of this blog, to help others with similar pain deal with their own issues.

In case anyone is not aware of how to properly handle this kind of discussion, here are a few pointers that you can use now and in the future.  First, victim blaming is never acceptable.  This can take many forms.  I know that I don’t get many comments around here, and I don’t have many readers.  But.  If anyone here engages in that kind of nasty rhetoric, I will ban them before they can blink.  If I know you in Real Life and you say anything even remotely victim-blamey online or in person, I will never talk to you again.  Trust me.  The whole wide world is full of rape apologists, and I do not choose to associate with them.  Ever.  Also, women have damn good reasons for not reporting rape.  It’s not helpful to make a survivor feel guilty, i.e. “it’s your duty to other women,” “think about everyone else he could be hurting,” etc.  Not helpful.  The only duty a survivor has is to herself.  Further, there is no typical victim and no typical reaction to assault.  There are no emotions that someone should feel, a right way to deal with abuse, or some foolproof guide on how to heal.  With that point comes one of the most important:  never tell a survivor how they should be feeling.  It is not anyone’s place to categorize assaults or put someone else’s experiences in a hierarchy.  Lastly, I’d like to officially strike both “it could have been so much worse” and “I’m lucky that I was only ______” from use.  None of us are lucky to be merely groped or only leered at.   We can’t rank how someone experiences violation or pain, so please do not try.

When first researching vulvodynia and vaginismus, almost every source stated that a history of sexual abuse/assault/rape is common amongst pelvic pain sufferers.  I thought, “how ridiculous, of course I’ve never been assaulted or raped” but the more I think about it, the less that is true.  Now it seems ridiculous and sad that I had internalized our culture’s pure vitriol for women and blamed myself for each and every attack.  I still do, in a way.  I’m going back and forth as to whether or not to use “attack” or “incident.”  Attack is an action that was performed upon me.  Incident is an occurance, a happening, a hm, how peculiar, the deliberate disappearing of the attacker.  Wording is very powerful—it allows us to convince ourselves of almost anything.

It can’t be rape if…  I didn’t actually fight back when…  It would have been rude to say no to…  It’s my fault that it hurts because…  It doesn’t count if you give in after being worn down…  He’ll stop if he notices I’m crying, probably…  I don’t deserve any better than…  It’s the least I can do for him since…  Coercion isn’t the same thing as…

Every gynecologist that managed to take me seriously would first ask about my history of sexual assault—some more tactfully and respectfully than others.  After my emphatic NO, NEVER! they’d dismiss my pain as all in my head and send me on my way.  I no longer think that “in your head” should be grounds for dismissal, though I did for a very long time.  This is why.

This is a roughly chronological account.  I have left out large swaths that I still can’t think about or just don’t want to have “out there” yet.

The large swath turned out to be my entire life.  I can’t do this.  But gather from this post, if nothing else, that the shame and fear and physical horror of assault leaves a mark.  I’m definitely beginning to realize that my pelvic pain is a part of that.  I haven’t come to terms with this and I’m not even close to being able to deal with it or dispose of it or move on in any way.  You wanna know why I’m so anxious and stressed out and my body hurts all the time?  Because every single day forces me to relive each and every assault upon my person.  Wanna know why I’m so mad?  Because in our culture it’s all a big fucking joke, and victims are the punchline.

Reading the news is like being attacked.  Going to the movies.  Magazine covers.  Conversation.  Culture.  “Herp derp I totally got raped by that test, d00dz.”  The whole goddamn internet.  Quick movements.  Incense.  Darkness.  Whiskey.  Waterbeds.  I’m so glad that waterbeds went out of style.  Music.  What’s disturbing is that I could add to this list weekly.  And it always changes.  Most of the time I’m just fine lying on a couch.  Sometimes the situation aligns so that it makes me want to scream at the top of my lungs.  One day it will feel so nice to be offered a hug, the next it will feel like strangulation.

It seems like these are just tiny little things that make me act out for no reason.  But to me, it is not tiny.  Everyday occurances are like the soundtrack to hell.  A particular song could be played at a coffee shop when someone with poor taste is in charge of the speakers, and it could ruin my day.  The connection to pelvic pain is so blindingly obvious to me now. My triggers (let’s say, a rape apologist commenting on a news item or some shitty AC/DC song) don’t just mentally set me back.  The pain flares and muscle spasms go right along with them.  It seemed ludicrous that my vaginismus could come from an emotional place rather than a physical one, at first.  But it does make sense.  A lifetime of fear will make one a bit tense, after all.

The most infuriating thing is that I now have this physical vestige of abuse.  Every time I want to use my body for pleasure and experience pain, my attackers are victimizing me all over again.  There’s nothing I can do to stay in control of myself.  I hate that it took some scientist to validate what I already knew about my life.  I felt crazy and helpless and out of control until reading that headline—but I knew all along that it was true.  I don’t ever again want to hear that I just need to buck up, champ, it’s not that bad.  I don’t choose stress and anxiety and not knowing how to handle life’s little problems.  Lots of people chose it for me a long time ago, and they keep choosing it for me over and over again.  It’s not as simple as “just ignore it” because every day I have to hear people make excuses for rapists, for attackers, for their friends who are let’s face it just not that kind of guy or maybe it was your cousin who knows but he volunteers for the youth group so he’d never do that kinda thing and what were you doing out so late anyway?  It’s the fucking music it’s the stars in July it’s a look in someone’s eye on the subway I can’t ignore it, it’s not going away. My brain has been pickled in cortisol since birth, I can’t shut it off.

I try so hard to just calm down, to try to convince myself that I’m overreacting and that everything is fine now, but I can’t do it.   I just can’t.  The spasms in relation to triggering circumstances are getting much, much worse and far more frequent.  I don’t know what this means.

The only way I know how to react to this is with anger, which I can and do express (but can’t often control).  What I don’t express is the profound sadness of it all.  That I hold tightly.

Though they weren’t right on purpose, those doctors that told me it was all in my head may have been onto something.


A New Theory

Maybe my vag is just scared of our culture and won’t come out of hiding.

This culture is a clusterfucktastrophe of woman-hating gay-bashing misogynistic bullshit and i’m up to my eyeballs in it and i pretty much can’t take it.

Culture is scared of teh queerz:  Amazon Rank

“Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society. It’s proved practically every day in our modern culture.”

“LOLZ OBSERVE AND REPORT JUST SHOWS CULTURAL NORMS, IF BITCHEZ GET DRUNK THEY GET SURPRISE SEX, IT’S OUR CULTURE DEAL WITH IT CUNT”

oh my god, this is just today, wtf, why doesn’t anyone else care about this.  orite, i just need to calm down and deal with it, CUNT.  get over it, it’s just your sense of self-worth and bodily autonomy.  DEAL WITH IT.  Doctors push you around?  Deal, cunt.  Get raped?  DEAL, cunt.  Have your mind and worth and sense of self torn to fucking shreds by reading a book or watching tv or going outside or listening to fratbros?  DEAL WITH IT, CUNT.  Oh, and don’t forget.  It’s probably all your fault.  Cunt.

And the most satisfying part?  Is how everyone can now call me overreacting or hysterical.

whateverrrrr patriarchy


Something less emotional

OMG I have no fucking clue what this new and intriguing pain is but oh, I could just climb the damn walls right now, I am so fidgety.

It’s really concentrated, in one little spot.  Like someone’s jabbing a huge needle into my pelvis.  It’s sort of like a really awful headache–you know the twingey ones where it feels like there’s an ice pick stuck in the back or side of your skull?  Yeah, like that, but in my crotch.  It feels a little better if I put pressure on it, um, just like a headache.  But… my crotch.  This is not a fun context in which to have my hand down my pants.  At least I’m at home and not at studio or something.


what i really need

is time to mourn all of the experiences i can’t have.

barring that, i need to strip off the insecurity and closemindedness and have some goddamn fun, at least just for one night.

i just left a very fun party because… well… i am not sure why.  i needed to get out of the whole college culture mindfuck for a minute.  the whole atmosphere is all about coyness and flirtation and that is really inappropriate for me to be participating in.  even if i weren’t in a relationship, i am so not equipped to deal with talking to people who are even remotely interested in sleeping with me, possibly, maybe.  the fun of it is sucked out by the feeling that i’m doing something wrong and constantly misleading people into thinking that i’m just another potential prospect.  i’m not trying to do that.  i can’t do that.  but that seems to kind of be the point for most of the people i talk to.  as an interesting aside, the band i just saw was called The Everyone’s Gonna Get Laid Tonight.

i couldn’t handle the feeling that i was not part of the same game as everyone else, so i left.  i came home to one of my roommates having loud sex.

i am, so far, unable to come to terms with my crushing jealousy of everyone around me.


It’s all about control, and I’ve got lots of it!

I’ve had Implanon for just over a week now, and I am so in love with it already.
I had my insertion done at the Cornell student health clinic, and it went really well.  My gynecologist there (who I actually really like, for a gynecologist) talked me out of Mirena and into Implanon.  I hadn’t really considered it because of the Norplant recall in the 90’s, but she explained how Implanon is different, and what the benefits and drawbacks are.  I set up my insertion appointment, which was supposed to be around the second day of my period.  The procedure was a small office visit, and the whole thing took about 15-20 minutes (not including the insurance fiasco–since no one’s heard of Implanon they threatened to not cover it, and at $853, I’m really glad I managed to get that sorted out).

Implanon is inserted into your upper arm of your non-dominant hand, where your arm rests against your side.  If you make a fist, you can feel where the bicep and tricep meet–it’s just around there.  First, she marked off the spot where she would insert it, and another point that would be about the end of the device, so I could see where it would be on my arm and how long it is.  Then I got a whole bunch of lidocaine shots to numb the area.  Anyway, there was also a nurse there that was holding my hand and asking me about spring break, so I didn’t really see the procedure.  That’s probably all for the best, but I really was thinking “Oh no, how will I tell all the details to the internet if I’m not watching carefully?!”

Once my arm was entirely numb, she inserted the rod and then had me feel it with my right hand to make sure it was there and that I knew what it felt like.  Then I was all bandaged up–really, it seemed like overkill–with steri-strips, gauze pads, and some of that huge medical wrap stuff, and it was all secured with that masking-tape-like material.  I hardly go out to parties, but it figures that the one night I wanted to, I’d have to keep this massive bandage on for 24 hours.  After I removed it in the morning though, I just replaced it with a little bacitracin and a regular band-aid.  I was supposed to ice it three times within 24 hours, but I had the insertion done in the morning and then had class all day.  It really didn’t swell too badly at all, and there was only minimal discomfort at any point.  It also didn’t bruise at all.  That’s… incredibly unusual, as I’ve bruised like crazy from all my piercings, and my doctor said to expect some nasty bruises.  There are a few little red spots, I assume from all the lidocaine injections, but they’re fading quickly.  There was a little stinging at the insertion site later that night, but nothing worse than any other cut.  I should also point out that I’m unable to take OTC painkillers due to stomach pain, and I still made it through the whole thing without any serious pain.  Or any pain at all, now that I think about it.

It’s absolutely fabulous to not have to think about birth control.  Every night at 9:30 (the time I used to forget my pill) I get real smug and feel like I’ve outsmarted someone.  I mean, I obviously don’t have much of a pregancy risk, but I definitely use it as period control (Sarah Haskins is all over this thread).  I haven’t noticed any side effects yet.  I might try to blame my awful skin on Implanon so I have an excuse better than genetics, but really, I just have super terrible skin.  My arm is still a little bit tender, but I can feel the rod under my skin and that’s pretty cool.  Other people can feel it if they’re really careful–I think I’ve only yelped at one person so far.  But I have to reiterate the best part:  I don’t have to think about this for THREE YEARS!  That’s such a relief!  No more worrying about when the pharmacy is open or if I can cover my co-pay or if I left my pill pack in the pocket of the coat that I’m not wearing or maybe another purse or… Yeah.  What a relief.  Plus, my doctor said that the average Implanon user that she sees will have a period about every 6-8 weeks.  That’s awfully thrilling–more time to frolic and play and enjoy life between cramps (which might be a little bit better, too).