I feel like I am coming out of the closet just thinking of writing this blog post. How much I need it and why. How much I need for someone, somewhere, to potentially sympathize.
It is just sounding more hypocritical by the second, using a blog as a personal diary of sorts and systematically and very much intentionally avoiding the big elephant in the room which is my life, my interactions and my sexuality and sense of self. The big elephant in the room is called vaginismus. There, I said it. Fuck it. I’m coming way out this time.
This is what vaginismus is, basically and painfully succinctly. What it means to you, what it feels like for you, how it melts into most aspects of your daily life is not featured in any sort of professional or medical website. But that website was my starting point in trying to understand it, so let it be yours too, I guess.
Why am I even going there, you ask? First of all, because I can. But really, it is a fairly common thing for women – and some men, of course – to have, most people don’t know what it is or that it even exists (ever heard/thought ‘Maybe I am just too tight’? it is probably some mild or not-so-mild case of vaginismus), and it is just so related to gender issues, sexuality, sex ed and awareness, feminism and MY LIFE AND HEALTH AND WELLBEING, that it had to be said here in my beautiful baby, this tiny corner of cyberspace. Also, because it is a muscle contraction. Yes, down there, but IT’S A FRIGGIN MUSCLE CONTRACTION, and not much else. So part of how I try to deal is to take the foggy, sexual, iffy, censored, unladylike-to-talk-about nonsense out of the equation.
Why in English? I don’t really know. Very possibly because I feel more detached when speaking English, and am much more able to talk about this. Very possibly I feel less vulnerable this way. Very possibly because I don’t think anything has ever singlehandedly threatened my self-esteem, sense of self and worth as much as this thing that is going on with my body right now. So here it goes.
I will not sugar-coat it, it has been hell. Sometimes. Sometimes I just don’t think about it, or see it as a small stain in the blanket of awesomeness that thankfully has been my life the past few years. The catch is, though, to get better you have to work for it, and if you work for it, you necessarily have to think about it. It is a part of your daily routine, a quiet little place for you to evaluate your womanness. Sometimes I just consider giving it all up and becoming a nun – do nuns play with themselves, though? I bet they do –, ‘cause I don’t see a way out anytime soon. Sometimes it feels like running on a treadmill trying to get to the donut (yes, I did just compare sex to a delicious, delicious donut) without realizing that it is a GODDAMN TREADMILL and you won’t get there, ever.
Sometimes it is slightly better, I see some progress. Some days are so nice that not even that brings me down, not even a bit. Some days I am particularly confident and empowered and it doesn’t affect me at all: “I am who I am and I happen to have this thing and it will go away eventually and I am no less of a human being, or a woman or a friggin sexy, sexy tiger because of the awkward workings of my V. And on that note, whatever. Vagina. I said the word. Vagina vagina vagina. It is not a dirty word, it is not a dirty subject. It is my blog, and I will say vagina if I want to – now sing along.”
But most of the days are hell on that front. It is a struggle. And because of the world we live in, where we hide our disabilities by all means if we can, it is one lonely struggle. It is fairly easy, too, to hide it. No one is ever troubled by it – well, not on a daily basis anyway *insert awkward wink here* – and there are no physical indicators of it either. Still, sometimes I wish I could freely wear a sign that read “I have vaginismus. Please hug me and then very quietly walk away.”
I won’t talk about the most obvious, direct implication of this condition. Yes, it makes sex from tricky to impossible. Yes, that stings like a bitch at times. But it is the implications after that which bring me down most often. Believe it or not we can live without a D just fine.
It is all the ancient, stuck, horrible ideas that hurt the most. It is feeling the need to make up for having vaginismus, the need to perform better as a woman in every other way of your daily life to compensate for that one lack of performance. It is the fear to go on a date because you want to but you can’t and you don’t feel like running away from the guy just yet. It is feeling the need to look better because that aspect of you is pretty darn ugly. It is searching everywhere for acceptance and confidence, ‘cause you know it sure aint there. It is feeling broken, betrayed by your own body, it is being ripped in two by your femininity.
As if one part of your body defined who you are. As if women had to perform or else. As if penetration was all there was to sex, and sex was all there was to intimacy or to relationships. As if it was my fault somehow. As if my beauty or worth relied on what a couple of muscles do or fail to do. As if, as if, as if. Bleh.
I should not feel defined by vaginismus, and yet very often I do. And I am pissed off about it, too, so much. A society whose pressures and anxieties and expectations helped build up this problem inside my body and also make the fully-blown condition worse; a society with huge double standards, ill-directed obsession with sex, oppressive and violent views of sexuality that are skin-deep: this is what brings me down.
But I will continue trying to own it, tackle it, learn from it. And I will keep getting better.
All I ask for reading the unnecessary but kind of REALLY necessary blog post about my personal issues, all I could ask is to inform others about the existence of vaginismus– most doctors (especially over 40) don’t know it even exists or, if they do, who should they refer the patients to. If you think you have it, talk about it, read about it, seek a physiotherapist. If in your gal talks (we all know we have them) you come across a friend who might have it, refer them to the right places.
Anyhoo, that is all, folks.