When Being Female is Abusive

uterusI am in an abusive relationship with my uterus. I only just realized this which is so often the way in any kind of abusive situation. The signs are all there, but it’s a foreign language and usually translates as, “wah, wah, wah,” much like Charlie Brown’s teacher. So, even though the message was there, I didn’t see it for what it was.

It started simply enough. I can sum it up in one word … cramps. One minute I was fine, playing Star Wars or King of the Hill on the playground. My uterus and I on friendly terms, the next it would attack for no apparent reason. The pain would hit full force. There’d be no lead up. No warning. One minute, I’m fine, the next I’m brought to my knees, hunched over and whimpering. I’d beg and plead for mercy, promise to be better if only the pain would stop. But this only seemed to enrage my uterus further until the pain was so bad I would be puking and the tears would be mixing with the snot now running down my face.

I didn’t understand why this happened to me. My sisters and mother didn’t seem to have this same pain. So, I rationalized, I must be being punished in some way. Eventually, someone would notice my distress and send me to the nurse where I would languish, moaning and writhing because the nurses weren’t allowed to administer pain killers and my mother was in no rush to come to my aid.

The message I received was clear. Suck it up. Be strong. If I wasn’t so weak, this wouldn’t happen. So, like a good girl. I set about to do just that. I learned to appease my uterus. I took narcotic, prescription pain killers even though I was only 13 and used hot water bottles religiously. I massaged, pampered, and catered to my uterus trying to keep the unprovoked attacks at bay. I learned to appease my uterus’ every whim. For a while, it worked. But, as with any abusive entity, they only go dormant. They don’t truly change and when they finally strike again, you’re never prepared.

Last year, my uterus tried to kill me. It was the final straw. After three decades of enslaving myself to satisfy its mercurial nature, my uterus repaid me by attacking me so viciously only emergency hospitalization saved my life. I bled and bled and bled until I almost died and required transfusions and surgery to survive.

The authorities were sympathetic. They’d seen this type of domestic dispute before. They made it clear that I was going to have to make a decision. My abuser was not going to just change its ways. I needed to decide what I wanted to do to seize control of my life back. I chose to liberate myself and gave the authorities permission to cage my abuser.

Having taken the necessary steps to break up with my uterus, I thought I was safe. I thought this unhealthy relationship was finally over. That I’d gotten out intact.

I thought wrong.

Just this week, I found out that my uterus has been lying in wait, stalking me, waiting to launch it’s final attack. As a result, I’m now faced with a decision that no woman wants to make. Should I go ahead and remove my uterus, excise my abuser once and for all, or should I once again cage it and hope it goes away.

All metaphors aside, my doctor’s have informed me I have tennis ball-sized fibroid growing in my uterine wall. The pain, though intermittent, is excruciating when it hits. There’s no pattern to it, so I’m never prepared and it’s like getting kicked in the stomach. The fibroid is pressing on my other internal organs and causing me all kinds of problems. It has to go. The only question is how.

There is a lesser procedure I could have, a myomectomy, which will leave my uterus intact, but offer me no protection against the fibroids returning. A hysterectomy solves my problem once and for all, but I find myself reluctant to do it. I wonder if I’ve got some kind of battered woman’s syndrome going on with my uterus, but it feels like I’ll be neutering myself if I have my reproductive organs removed.

This is especially painful as I feel as if I’ve only just made peace with my feminine identity after fighting it my whole life. Though, as I write this I see, that my experience with being female has been riddled with pain, so it’s no wonder I rejected that aspect of my identity as long as I did. It was only after I thought I’d stopped the attacks that I was able to reconcile with my inherent femininity.

I think, in my heart, I know I’m not willing to have a hysterectomy. I’m not emotionally ready to do it, but damn I’m tired of this. Tired of dreading the first week of each month, tired of feeling beaten up and raw from the inside out, tired of the roadmap of scars that criss-cross my abdomen spreading and growing. There’s the C-Section scar that dissects my pubic hair, the various and sundry laparoscopy scars from three separate procedures that failed to end the relentless abuse.

I’m just fucking tired.

11 thoughts on “When Being Female is Abusive

  1. Dear Elene,
    I had a uterus that prolapsed over on its side. Usually they drop down through the vagina. No not mine, I did not have to make the decision. I must admit that by not having a cycle every month, I feel much better, this was 14 years ago. I stand tall with my head held high, proud to say I don’t have a uterus. Since they removed the uterus including the cervix, I can’t get cervical cancer, and no pap smears Yeah!
    In all seriousness seriously weigh your options and do what is in your heart My Friend.
    Your Friend,
    Anastasia 😄

    • Anastasia – Thank you for sharing. I understand entirely, what you’re saying. I think if I were older, I’d be more amenable. What concerns me with the hysterectomy – emotional issues aside – is the hormone treatments. My mother was one of the people genetically predisposed to breast cancer as a result of hormone therapy and I’m concerned I would be trading the frying pan for the fire.

      Decisions, decisions 🙂

      Regards,
      E

      • Dearest Elene,
        I appreciate your concerns regarding hormone replacement. Did your Physician suggest just removing your uterus? Or did they suggest the removal of your ovaries & tubes? By having just the uterus removed you will still have your ovaries to produce estrogen. As mentioned I had my uterus removed in 2000. In 2011 I had a mass on top of my bladder and left ovary. Tank goodness they were Non-malignant. I now only have my right ovary. Both tubes were removed also. My Oncologist Gyn explained that cancer can be prevalent at the “end” of the tubes. My estrogen levels are low, not enough to take anything supplemental. I personally Will Not Take Any Estrogen. I hope I was able to help. Please feel free to ask any questions.
        Your Friend,
        Anastasia 😄

  2. Elene- This is a deep seeded and personal choice. So I will only relay my own story and urge you to trust your gut. I had a hysterectomy due to fibroid tumors 7+ years ago. I had two grapefruit size fibroids, the twins I called them. Those that know me best will tell you I have a black sense of humor. Their location made saving the uterus impossible. Thankfully I had already come to the conclusion that I didn’t want kids-So it was a no brainer for me. And not having a cycle honestly is liberating.

    Now I can’t say I didn’t have any moments like hearing my mother-in-law refer to me as barren. It twinged. Although factual it isn’t how I feel. So I have to say do not, I repeat do not allow the lack of a uterus make you feel any less feminine. And besides I always believe extricating yourself completely from an abusive relationship is the best course of action. Aargh- there I go espousing my bias.

    Good luck!

    • Thank you. I appreciate what you’re saying so very much. It’s funny, when I was pregnant, there were all these forums on line, support groups for women who gave birth via C-Section. They were all talking about how they felt less like a mother because they hadn’t had a vaginal birth. I couldn’t relate. The baby was out, that’s all that mattered. I never once questioned being a mother.

      So, I’m surprised at my reaction to this. I always figured I’d just roll with the punches, but it’s hitting me harder than I anticipated.

      Thank you again for sharing!

      E.S.

  3. I’m awed by how as women we see our femininity. It is no more tied to my womb as my ability to love is a reflection of my physical heart.

    Above I saw you have concerns regarding hormone treatments. I have BC family history as well and estrogen is not an option. I still have my ovaries so this helps greatly. I had a few night sweats following the procedure but I got them to disappear using an herbal remedy for 4 months.

    All medical procedures come with risks and consequences. They change things. And there is no way to calculate all the potential outcomes. But I must say I’m so glad I did it.

  4. Oh my. I can see why this would be a difficult decision. I must agree with the above comments, in wondering if you must have a full hysterectomy, or if you can keep your ovaries, which should eliminate the need for hormones, and also in thinking it’s our brains that make us women, not our bodies.
    I know several people who’ve had the procedure, and I assure you, they are still vibrant examples of femininity.
    I’m pained for you. Best of luck with your decision.

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