Throughout our lives we set goals and we take the necessary steps to accomplish them. But, what if you had a goal that you yourself don’t have control over, but instead it is your subconscious mind that’s controlling it. How do you help yourself, how do you deliver information to that part of your mind? That’s what vaginismus is, it’s an involuntary control muscle contraction, that prevents you from allowing any sort of insertion.
I couldn’t control the inner child me in that couldn’t forget the fear of being sexually abused. At a young age, I kept this to myself and didn’t tell anyone because of the fear of losing family and friends and being judged. I blamed myself for that experience, and didn’t have the courage to even speak to a counselor about it. Little did I know that experiences that you keep bottled up always appear later in your life as a lesson.
When I was 22, my husband and I decided to get married right out of university, with our parents’ consent. Both of us had already drawn out our future together. We were also tired of the commute due to our long-distance relationship. Relationships alone have their ups and downs, but marriage brought on new challenges for us. Marriage was supposed to be a period of blissfulness and happiness, but although we were able to show others we were happy, we were struggling because of what I felt was my disadvantage.
It took several slamming doors and crying nights before we took the next step and decided to see a professional. I didn’t realize that my ‘vaginismus’ issue was hurting not just the relationship, but my husband’s self-esteem. I didn’t know where to begin and who to go for help, and couldn’t figure out what was causing this issue. I didn’t even have friends that I could talk to about sex as none of them were married yet. I remember reading the letter that the doctor had faxed to the gynecologist, “unable to consummate marriage”. Reading those words hurt so much and I found myself constantly repeating the words in my mind, because in my mind I felt like she wrote, “failed marriage”.
The first gynecologist appointment, my husband and I went together but I wasn’t comfortable with him joining me to speak to the gynecologist. I was choking back tears as I sat in her office. She first sat me down and asked me a few questions to find out what the causes were. When she asked me if I was sexually abused, my quick automatic response was “nope”. I wasn’t being honest and I didn’t want to be judged. At that moment I couldn’t stop thinking of all the ways I have hidden this thought and experience of being abused, and then wondering ‘how did she know?’. I didn’t tell my husband what she had asked, but felt like I was digging deeper into an issue that I never wanted to uncover. The repressed feelings that I wanted to keep hidden were slowly being brought to the surface. I felt alone with my thoughts, and didn’t know who I could open up to, it wasn’t something I wanted to remember, and the feeling wasn’t something I wanted to talk about.
Based on the gynecologist’s assessment, she sent me to a pelvic support physiotherapist. The bi-weekly sessions I had at the physiotherapist’s office, started off really rough, as I was extremely uncomfortable showing anyone the lower part of my body. I would cringe in pain with the thought of what I had to experience, which is normally a joyful experience for most females. It was the most embarrassing feeling to be lying there to have someone assess me, and help me through the process of letting go of fear, as the feeling of fear was forcing my body to automatically tighten the parts of my body that I never thought I had control over.
I also started doing my own search and felt the need to finally speak to a counselor. Sitting at the counselor’s office I felt like a victim. I was hesitant as I was not sure whether I was ready to bring those experiences back into my reality. Although I was an adult, I was still afraid that if I told her what I experienced, she may just tell someone or take action and reveal this secret, when I have spent so many years hiding it deep inside. As a child, I was scared that telling someone would tear my life apart, because the school would interfere and take action and everyone would be able to judge me. I had to remind myself that I’m married now and I’m no longer that child that had to bottle up all my feelings; I can finally let it all out. As I slowly went over my experience with the counselor, I spent an hour just crying, and letting go of all the pain I had tangled in my heart. It didn’t end there as I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was as though I was re-living it all over again. It took several days of just dealing with the pain, forgiving myself, and reminding myself that it was not my fault, it was something that affected me and it was time to let it go.
I realized that letting something like this ‘go’ does not mean that you completely forget about it.. In order to move on, I had to forgive myself and the abuser, as this experience was only building fear, frustration, and anger, but that wasn’t helping me move forward. I had to forgive my abuser, and talk to my inner child and try to put things into perspective. I had to remind myself that sometimes the abuser themselves have been abused, and did not come from a healthy environment. This does not mean that the abuser should not face legal issues, but it is important to remember that for those that have been affected, letting family or an authority figure know who the abuser is, doesn’t automatically solve the situation. I still had to recover from the experiences, and the thought processes that I had now formed with sexual activity. Any sort of sexual activity, brought memories of my abused experience, and in order to get past this, I had to forgive myself and the abuser.
Once I learned to forgive, I was able to attend the physiotherapist’s office with more confidence, as I was slowly making progress with learning to gradually relax and not tense my entire body in fear. I was able to control how my body reacted to insertions, and learn to let go of the automatic responses that my body would have based on my subconscious experience.
During this entire journey, I was grateful that my husband was not only supportive, but very patient. This was not just my journey but his as well, as he had to continue to encourage me, and celebrate some of the small victories. This isn’t something that is completely solved, as I still continue to work on my fear, but the biggest victory for me was when I was finally able to conceive. This situation allowed me to understand that I am not my experiences. I am not the abused, that was just an experience that taught me to grow. In order to liberate myself from the experience it was important to remember that this experience helped me be a better version of myself, and now I can focus on helping others who have gone through the same experiences.
It is difficult to go through such experiences alone, as the thought process replays in your head over and over again, until a positive thought of moving forward enters our thoughts. Speaking to others about this issue not only lets you free yourself, but also allows you to accept other ways of approaching this experience. For those that are facing similar issues and want someone to talk to please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Once there is a distance between you and your thought process, a new freedom is born. With this freedom, a new perception arises.” –Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev