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.