dealing with pain and dysfunction


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the society=bullshit category.

Well, “I” think you’re an “asshole”

Story of my life, I have another raging yeast infection.  I got a weird strain of strep throat and a doctor at the student health center gave me 500mg of penicillin 2x a day for 10 days.  On the third day, the yeasties started.  On the fourth day, I wanted to die, it was my birthday, and I decided that my present to myself would be to stop taking the antibiotics.  I’ve been eating tons of plain yogurt, using Yeastaway, and taking AZO yeast 3x daily since Saturday.  Nothing is working.

On Monday night, I couldn’t take it anymore.  I went to an urgent care center that’s associated with the local hospital and waited two hours so someone would prescribe me Diflucan (for any non-USians/lucky ones who’ve avoided yeast/doodz, that’s an oral antifungal tablet that you take in a single dose).  Of course, no one was willing to trust me and just write the goddamned prescription so we could all go home.  Oh, no.  They had to go through the whole schpeil, with the questioning, the pelvic exam, the swab, and on and on and on.  Even though I know beyond a shadow of a doubt what is wrong with me and all I need from them is a prescription.

They asked if I had done anything over-the-counter for it, and I told them about what I’ve done so far.  When I said that I had been using yogurt, both the doctor and nurse looked at me like I’m a particularly stupid child, and in a very slow, condescending voice, told me that I “shouldn’t be eating dairy” even though every woman ever knows that plain yogurt will help a yeast infection.  They hadn’t heard of AZO or Yeastaway, so I started listing some of the ingredients and mentioned that they were homeopathic remedies.  In my chart they put a note about “so-called ‘homeopathic’ treatments,” scare-quotes and all.  UGH.  I hate visiting doctors.  Oh, and by the way, the Diflucan hasn’t done jack shit, so they can’t even be all high and mighty about being better than my so-called homeopathy.  While I’m kind of smug about the failure of western medicine, I’m still mighty pissed about this still-raging infection and that the strep has come back because I didn’t finish the antibiotics.

Just for the record, I’d rather have my throat be on fire than my vagina, any day.  Poor thing’s had enough trouble in its life, I’ll just take the strep for now.

Of course, no doctor’s visit would be complete without a little slut-shaming, so they made sure to ask me about recent sexual activity and then made a big show of doing an STI screening.  Naturally, they had to point out that with “so many” recent partners I was obviously a “huge risk” and after hearing that they’d need to double-check to make sure it wasn’t anything “nasty” like herpes.  WOW.  Really?  I was pretty mad at the time, but typing it out, I’m just stunned.  When “so-called professionals” (see what I did there) are calling STD/STIs “nasty,” you can’t deny our society’s ridiculous mischaracterization and stigmatization of sexual healthcare.  If I had been my 16 year old self I would have just bolted out the door the second they insinuated that I’m “nasty.”  Way to make people comfortable with being tested, “assholes.”

Also, since I’m obvs a huge fucking slut (my grandmother knew all along, it’s now been confirmed by doctors), I’m super pissed that this stupid infection isn’t going away.  Nobody can have any fun with a yeast infection.  Sigh.

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Consent and Vulvodynia

Of the handful of times I’ve had penetrative sex, I’d say the majority were nonconsentual.  I’d now like to qualify this to point out that the vast majority of times I’ve had penetrative sex were with my first boyfriend.  I don’t want to feel like I’m required to protect the feelings of previous sexual partners or prevent someone from feeling uncomfortable about this subject matter.  Because really, you should feel uncomfortable.  I feel uncomfortable.

Naturally, I’m using the more feminist approach to consent, often called “enthusiastic consent” or “yes means yes” (as recently popularized by the 2008 anthology, Yes Means Yes:  Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape).  In the enthusastic consent model, it is assumed that the “neutral state” of sexual partners is nonconsent, and sexual activity should only go forward if both partners are clearly and enthusiastically consenting.  This is opposed to our society’s current model, in which partners are always assumed to be in a state of consent, and sexual activity will go forward until a forceful “no” is heard.  More simply, enthusiastic consent means that consent is not the absence of “no” but the presence of “yes.”

I’d like to discuss my experiences with consent while suffering from vulvodynia and vaginismus.

There have been many times when I had sex because I thought I had to.  Because I hadn’t been diagnosed and thought that saying no would mean I was admitting that the pain was real and that there was something wrong with me.  Because I thought this time maybe it wouldn’t hurt–but when it did, I thought I wasn’t allowed to say no since we had already started.  Because saying no would make me a bad girlfriend.

In our current model of consent, there’s nothing wrong with this.  I didn’t say no, so that makes it okay.  Move along, nothing to see here.  But I was definitely not an enthusiastic participant in these encounters.  Most of the time I would cry.  I was good at hiding it, though, so he wouldn’t notice and feel badly about himself.  Every time I would dig my nails into the palms of my hands until I drew blood, just so I’d have a different pain to focus on.  Every time I would go to the bathroom afterwards I would sit on the toilet to pee and it would just be the most excruciating, searing pain.  I had to do it though, or else I’d have a couple weeks of agony with a UTI.  I’d sit there slumped over, my face at my ankles, and cry and cry and cry.  How could I be so weak?  Why couldn’t I just force out the necessary NO that was required to stop this from happening?

For me, pelvic pain has added a terrible layer of complication to how I think about consent.  How can I be an enthusiastic participant in anything that is hurtful?*  Besides that, my own fear of repercussions from saying no muddle things further.  It can’t be rape if I hide what pain I’m in, if I pretend like I’m okay, if I act like I’m into it, am I right?  Who knows.

The encounters that are most confusing to me are the ones that I instigated.  Where I’d talk them into it, they wouldn’t want to hurt me but I’d insist.  The times that I was enthusiastic, but for the wrong reasons.  What does it mean when I’m the one coercing, I’m the one forcing and rationalizing.  I’ve had doctors tell me that I was making up my pain in my head or that deserved pelvic pain, and I believed them.  On the outside I’d get real indignant about it, but really, I thought they were right.  If I was making it up, I could force myself out of it.  If I deserved it, well, why not have sex?  It’d make me a “real” girlfriend and I’d get what I deserved while I was crying in the bathroom.

I guess I had a lot of different reasons for instigating, now that I think about it.  The fear of hurting me led to a lot of rejection.  The fear of being hurt led to far more, of course.  Sometimes I’d get so furious and angry about having to constantly reject someone I loved or about being rejected by someone I loved.  So I’d force myself to have sex, I’d think that maybe this time it’d be different and if it wasn’t, once again, I deserved it.  Sometimes I’d get so distraught over my disappearing sex drive that I’d instigate in order to prove that I was Clearly Okay and obviously I Still Love You, or else why would I do this?  Typing this up now makes me feel delusional.  Sometimes I’d get so far in denial that I’d think I had magically overcome vulvodynia and this time was it and sex was going to be delightful and so I’d instigate, and once again end up crying in the bathroom.

And what I’ve been up to recently, though I kind of hate myself for it, is just how I’m proving to myself that I’m normal.  Well, normal-ish, at least.  I’ve spent so long feeling completely and utterly fucked up and broken that I’m just trying to make myself believe that I can be just like everyone else.  I guess it’s that and a combination of being crushingly lonely, but even people with totally functional vaginas can be lonely.  I feel like it might be a different kind of lonely though, the kind that we have.  A lonely that is worried about being lonely forever.  There’s a woman in an online support group I’m in who’s worried she might never get married, might never have kids.  It breaks my heart over and over again.  That kind of lonely.

There are millions of reasons why people have sex.  It’s just the more that I think about it, the more I hate my reasons.  I don’t know if that means that I should stop or go to therapy or have sex with someone I’m in love with or just take some sleeping pills and shut the fuck up already.  I don’t know.

Though I believe in enthusiastic consent on a general level, I’m not yet to the point of feeling that I, myself, am deserving of it.  I need to fix this part.  I wrote this earlier and I don’t know what I meant by it.  I think it’s something like this:  I really want to believe in enthusastic consent, I really do.  I like the notion of it, it makes sense, it’s egalitarian, it starts to dismantle the rape culture in which we all live.  But in recounting my experiences and my reasons for having sex, I’m drawing a box around myself that positions my consent as different.  That’s the part I’m uncomfortable with.  How can I do that?  Why would I feel that my enthusiasm isn’t as important?  I just can’t make myself believe that some of the awful reasons why I’ve had sex fit into a new definition of consent.  So, what?  Have I raped myself, then?  That doesn’t make a damn bit of sense.  None of this does.  Once again, I’m going to end up coming back to this.

I’m going to end up adding to or editing this post over time, but I feel the need to get out what I can immediately.

*Use of “hurtful” is an attempt to differentiate from “painful” as pain can be both consentual and welcome


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


Oh, whatev.

I have no idea why or how this came up, but my four roommates are having a very loud conversation about the use of numbing agents during sex.  Cue a whole lot of really stupid, ignorant shit!  I wish that the living room weren’t between my bed and the door, I’ve gotta get out of here.  At least it isn’t my friends spewing ridiculous nonsense this time, I guess I can take comfort in the fact that these people know absolutely nothing of my sex life (or lack thereof).  Actually, no.  I think that it might piss me off even more that I’m not okay with throwing open my bedroom door and exclaiming:

There are perfectly legitimate uses for numbing agents during sexual activity!!  Here, let me explain to you why it could possibly be useful and not “fucking weird/gross/tingly.”

Goddamnit.  I already feel fucking weird and gross (thankfully, not tingly in any negative sense…).  I don’t really appreciate the people in my house stating it, even if they don’t realize what they’re saying and why it could possibly make the weird new subletter girl uncomfortable and sad.