Healing

A Leep Procedure is pretty common, but I somehow feel so alone in it. Maybe because I am uncomfortable talking about the reason why those cells were there in the first place.

I caught HPV at some point in my young adulthood. There are several different strands of this virus. Some give you genital warts…I got the kind that gives you cancer. I can’t say which one I would rather have. Neither, probably. There is no way to test for HPV in men, and since many of the strains have no symptoms in women, it is estimated that 80-90%  of sexually active people encounter and catch HPV at some point in their lives.

Despite all of this…I feel super ashamed of myself for catching this extremely common virus.

I guess I have been promiscuous. I don’t think it was ever my intention, but I learned early that the only way, the easiest way for me to get attention was to be “sexy”. Combine that with a C cup at age 10 and there was no other option I felt than to embrace that role. To own it. It was a sort of power I had. The only power I knew how to wield.

 

I wore this like an armor, but honestly, I was still very much a child when I began to explore my sexuality, and always with people who were old enough to know better.

Old enough to know that the relationship should be kept secret.

The first person I fell madly in love with was 21. I was 16. It’s been such a process to acknowledge that our relationship wasn’t “real”. That it was wrong. That he should have left me alone…like he said he would at the beginning. I don’t want to think of him in the same way as my abusers, but the truth is, that he took advantage of me too.

I kept searching for someone who wanted to spent time with me in the sunlight, but all I found was that I was only “good enough” to be an object. Only “good enough” to be a lover. Only “good enough” to take home in the dark. It’s what I was “built for” after all.

This is also a role I played. I pretended it didn’t bother me. That it made me independent. That I “belonged” to no one. That I was content with having multiple boyfriends, or lovers, or hopefuls waiting in the wings.

I gave my body looking for love, but always left the bed with nothing. Searched for self esteem in hands and mouths and drank myself stupid trying to numb myself into consent. If I had been a different person, it wouldn’t sound so depressing. I wish I could have faked my blasé attitude until it stuck. I always admired the friends I had who truly lived “free”, but for me, it became, like so many other things, just another form of self mutilation. Just another excuse to feel like there was “something wrong” with me. People wanted to have sex with me…but no one ever wanted to have a real relationship with me.

Even my current relationship began this way. It might have stayed that way had we not gotten pregnant. 10 years making love to one of my childhood friends and not a single date. Just a perfect child. Transitioning from mistress, side chick, whatever to main squeeze has been the only thing I have ever wanted, yet still I feel like this is all just a sham. That sooner or later he’ll realize I’m still not good enough to stand beside.

I really wish I had learned different lessons. That things had happened differently, but I am able to see this now. I am able to see that all of that shit I told myself about who I was and how “good” or “not good” I am or how I am just a slutty slut and will never be anything else, was all a bunch of bullshit anyway.

I did not catch HPV because I was promiscuous.

And it is ok even if I was slutty.

Being slutty doesn’t mean that I should have been treated like crap.

Because I am so worthy of love.

I always have been

So fucking worthy.

(Ps…sorry things have gotten real on this blog lately…part of my healing process…actual poems will return soon, I promise)

 

 

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I have never written about this before

TW: trauma

I wanted to share this story now as I am unpacking a lot of “stuff” surrounding my reproductive organs and my relationship with them.

Pap smears have never been something I look forward to. I feel like this is pretty common. It’s an uncomfortable, but necessary procedure. With the situation I am in now being a prime example of why you should be getting a pap (if you have a vagina) every year, paps can save your life and are such an important part of self care.

My relationship with the pap smear is, however, one that is triggering.

Without going into too much backstory and information, when I was a child and my dad would take care of me on the weekends, he would always ask me repeatedly if I had been touched inappropriately. My father had been told by a psychic friend of his that she believed I had been sexually molested by my older brothers. This never happened, but my dad was insistent on me admitting it was true.

When I was 12 years old, my father arrived at my middle school randomly and took me off campus. He did this often, and would usually drive me around and talk with me for an hour or two. But this time, he took me to a doctor’s office. He told me the doctor was just going to do a check up to make sure I was “alright”

I was a very well-read child. I had my first period the year before and knew exactly where I was and what was going to happen, but that didn’t make what happened feel any less invasive.

The doctor was a woman, and did not explain to me what was going on or what she was doing. She put the speculum inside me and I felt pain and tensed up, but she continued to try to force it in. I told her it hurt, and she still kept trying to force it.

I began crying and the doctor became very frustrated. She told me I was over-reacting and that this was a “normal” procedure and then instead of using the speculum to see inside of me, she put her fingers inside of my vagina and anus and felt around to “make sure my female organs were ok”

I was still crying when she left the room. She didn’t come back.

I had never had anyone touch my private areas before, let alone in a way that was so forceful and painful.

After the “examination”, my dad just dropped me off at school again, and I had to go back to my homeroom class as if nothing happened. I told one friend about what had happened later that day, and he laughed at me because I had to “show my pussy’ to a stranger (ah, the maturity of an 11 year old boy…). I didn’t tell anyone else.

I blocked this memory out for years, but it has left a deep impact on me and how I view not only my reproductive organs, but my own body autonomy and ability to have my voice be heard. As an adult in all sexual encounters I have never felt comfortable expressing what feels good or doesn’t feel good. I have seen my body as something that is not mine, and is only useful to someone else to do with what they please. I have a hard time feeling pleasure or thinking it’s ok to feel pleasure.

I don’t trust doctors, and this is probably the reason why. With this LEEP procedure coming up next week, I am trying to retrain my thinking that the experience doesn’t have to be negative. That it is helpful. That it is something that is good for me.

What happened to me was not ok. It was horrific. Sometimes I get so angry at my dad for doing that. For putting me in that position. He and I never talked about that experience, but I know that he would say he was just “trying to make sure I was safe”

I have never felt safe in a doctor’s office.

 

 

 

I’m ok but not ok

Yesterday my doctor called to inform me that I have CIN 3 abnormal cells on my cervix. This means basically that I have stage 0 of cervical cancer. It’s not cancer, but could be eventually, if left untreated. The precancerous cells are just on the top layer or the cervix and haven’t invaded the surrounding tissue.

I don’t know how to feel right now. This condition is treatable at this stage, but I worry about it becoming reoccurring. After the LEEP procedure I am going to have in a couple of weeks, everything should be fine, right?

There is a part of me that feels like unless I do a lot of life changes and continue to build different thought patterns that this won’t be the last time I am in this position.

Thank god I have health insurance right now. It could have progressed even more if I waited another year or two. I read online that it can sometimes only take 10 years for these cells to develop into full blown cancer.

The worst part of all of this is that I had an abnormal pap 6 or 7 years ago, even before I was pregnant with Raj. I should have taken care of it then. Back then I had to pay out of pocket, and the doctor told me that in most cases, the cells clear up on their own, so I didn’t even think about it.

I think a lot about how my genitals and my sexuality have been abused over the years…if somehow metaphysically this is the outcome. That somehow this is my fault. That if only I had not had certain experiences, I wouldn’t be in this position. It really is messing with me. Unraveling a lot of work I have done over the last few years.

I read somewhere else that the condition I have can be reoccurring. That the cells can come back. I worry in 5 or 10 years where I will be, and where I want to be. I think about how I want to have just one more child. I think a lot about changing my diet and cutting back on work and  taking better care of myself in a radical way. Sometimes I think I am doing a good job at taking care of myself, but then I realize I do an even better job at taking care of other people…

So I’m scared right now, I guess. I think life insurance policy and death wish list, and power of attorney forms and whether or not we can just get legally married already so all of that is just a given and I don’t have to worry about what would happen if something were to happen.

I’m probably putting the cart before the horse.

I’m going to be alright.

I guess maybe it’s a wake up call for things I have been ignoring. That cutting off all of these cells might be the last step in letting go of a lot of that pain and sexual abuse I experienced throughout my life. That right now I have the chance to change in radical new ways. That I can finally confront a lot of my stuffed down feelings about myself and my experiences. Sometimes I still feel like I’m judged for my past. That I carry a guilt with me for some of the choices I have made. As if that can change what happened.

Sometimes I think of my grandmother and how she died within 5 months of her cancer diagnosis. How I never really processed that experience and my experience in it. How I want to fight in ways she never did.

I don’t have cancer. What I have isn’t cancer yet, but I am, I don’t know, upset at myself for the idea that this could and can become cancer if I don’t take better care of myself. As if I am not important enough to take care of or something. That for so many years I haven’t taken care of myself, because I haven’t loved myself enough to do so.

How do I train myself that I am worthy and worth taking care of? That my needs are important? That I matter? Even now I feel guilty for sharing these thoughts and writing them down. I want to hide this experience away and brush it off as no big deal because I don’t know if I should feel grateful it isn’t cancer or worried that it might someday be cancer? Perspective is important.

 

 

 

I go straight from the colposcopy appointment

To the supermarket

And flirt

With the most attractive clerk I see

I realize

Life is short

That until the phone call comes

I can pretend

The weight of it all

Does not suffocate

Every step

That the cramping in my cervix

Is nothing

But an afterthought