My story begins in the middle of a journey. Perhaps similar to yours. Perhaps different. It is my story of coming to be a woman.
A journey within the journey begins.
A few days before my 25th birthday I walked into the doctor’s office for my annual check-up. It was a routine exam, one I’ve been doing since 18 years old. “Hi, I’m Dr So-and-so…” progressing to a series of questions about my health, sexual history, and partners. Doctor leaves. I undress from the waist down, pulling the stale white sheet across my lap. He walks in unemotional, and goes straight to work. Feet in the stirrups. White ceiling. Cold speculum. Pinch. Pinch. Ouch. Finger insertion. Ok, done. Doctor leaves. Dress. They will call if anything is abnormal.
In the previous 6 years, there had been no follow-up. It was as if the exam had never happened. This time is different. This time, three days before my 25th birthday, the phone rings. “Abnormal.” Excuse me? “It might be an error.” Come again? “We want you to come back up to make sure.” I hang up. Surely it’s just an error. A few days later I walk in to the Doctor’s office again. Stirrups. Cold speculum. Pinch. Results in 3 days.
Three days later and they’re calling me for yet another visit. I walk in to the office and the Doctor explains the condition: Cervical dysplasia. Stage 3. One stage away from cancer. His face blurs, the words run together. Dysplasia. Not cancer. Yet. Procedure. Colposcopy. Biopsy. Blah. Blah. Blah. I leave. Numb.
I’m only 25.
Countdown. Two days before the procedure the Doctor calls me at work. “Do you have anyone who can come in with you?” No, I’m on my own. A hundred miles from home. “Do you want children? Have you thought of kids?” Kids? I’m 25…. “If, and just if, the tumor spreads and it gets worse, now would be the best time to have children.” Children. I’m fresh out of college. Living away from home, independent, my first studio. No boyfriend. Children? I never really thought of having children, but the possibility that the option might be taken away from me, stripping me of my free will to decide? My throat tightens, my eyes burn, my stomach turns to stone. No, I don’t want children now. But someday?
“Col-pos-copy is the direct examination of your genital area, including the cervix, vagina and vaginal opening, using a special lighted microscope called a col-po-scope. The patient lies down on a table. Knees bent. Feet in stirrups. Insertion of speculum. A saltwater solution cleans the cervix. Acetic acid solution applied with cotton ball reveals abnormal cells. Tissue removed. Expect cramping, bleeding, and vaginal discharge. Do not insert anything into your vagina for at least one week.”
The day of the appointment I have a session with my Reiki teacher. She tells me the dysplasia occurred because I had ignored my sexual desires. The cervix, the second chakra, is the area that stores our sexual energy. My body was calling out for help, calling out for me to put my attention on my sex. Now that I have my attention on it, she promises, it will be ok. This is how my body is telling me what it wants.
I walk into the doctor’s office feeling light, clear and grounded. I am ready to do this, to get this thing out of my body. I get on the table and the doctor goes to work. Cold speculum, again, but the heat from the lamp warms my pussy and I relax. Instruments clang below. I take a deep breath in, counting to myself, feeling the pulling and tugging at my core, as one-eighth of my cervix is removed. One-eighth of my cervix, but also of the yes and no, the isolation, the desires I had suppressed for so long. One-eighth of my mother’s guilt. One-eighth of the shame women learn, the shame that leaves our sex voiceless and disconnected.
Immediately after my procedure I drive home. As soon as I get there, my phone rings. It’s Diana. Oh yes, I remember. I had gotten her name from someone. She leads workshops in sexuality. She teaches women how to be fully orgasmic.
My next journey begins—a journey within a journey.
One stepping stone leads to another leads to OneTaste, a community devoted to exploring and opening up the realm of sexuality. One Thursday evening, a month after my surgery, I walk through the door.
Several months and several courses later, I am opening. My orgasm, my truth, and my voice are coming alive. I am finally experiencing the connection and intimacy I’d been looking for; the connection and intimacy I thought men’s affection and sex would provide but never did.
I take a course designed specifically for women: women connecting to our bodies, our desires, our sex, ourselves. It is gorgeous to witness other women sharing their journeys, their doubts, their fears. I am suddenly not so alone in the world. One of the activities includes us getting to know our pussies. They are, we are told, the centerpiece of our sex. And—this is new to me—the source of our power.
I realize I’ve always held a fear that my pussy wasn’t normal. But there I see what other women look like, hear what they feel like, and I see I was wrong. . Suddenly I feel proud of my pussy. She is beautiful and unique.
At the end of the course the facilitators asked us to write a love letter to our pussy. A love letter to my pussy? But I write. We all write. We share, we laugh, we cry. And each of us promises our pussy that we will let her out. We will let her have what she wants, without shame or guilt. We will feed her when she’s hungry, and listen to her when she has something to say. This course permanently changes my relationship to my pussy.
Another journey begins within the journey.
So, here I am today. Five years and 1 month after the biopsy, 30 years old. I’m happy. Connected to my body in a way that I didn’t know was possible. I live in a practice community, devoted to a mindful sexuality practice called Orgasmic Meditation. I’m one of the lead instructors. I teach, coach and train. Men and women who want to open their orgasm, couples who want deeper intimacy in their lives and their relationships. Just five years later and I am their guide on the journey, the one who helps them navigate the terrain of their sexuality.
And I am still on my own journey. I am still getting to know my pussy, her hunger and her desire. It is a journey that never ends, a journey I hope you will join. You can start today, right here. The first step? Why not write a love letter to your pussy. Meet her. Tell her everything. Then share it, and see what happens. Here’s how.
Friday, May 21, 2010