Closeted

Yesterday, I had a bit of a revelation.  I am totally in the closet.  Not in the traditional homosexual kinda way.  But in a similar way, in that I feel like I’m harbouring a pretty big secret. A secret that I really don’t want to tell most people.

I’m a virgin.  And I’m 32. And I have panic attacks in my vagina.

I was talking to my counselor about this yesterday, and it really is pretty difficult to keep this vag thing a secret.  But I do it because I don’t really think most people would understand.  And I’m having to do it all the time.

I don’t tell people I’m going to an appointment with my counselor.  I say that I’m going to a “meeting.” I don’t tell people that I’m going to a pelvic physio appointment.  I tell them that I need physio for my shoulder.

My husband’s in on it too.  He doesn’t tell the people he works with that he’s going with me to see our sex therapist.  Instead he makes up something about a mortgage broker or investment advisor.

When people ask when we’re going to start a family, we don’t tell the truth.  We say that we still have things we want to do with our lives before we have kids.

When friends talk about sex, I just smile and nod along with them, and pretend like I know exactly what it’s like.

But I’m in the closet.

It’s not that I’m uncomfortable telling people.  I have no problem talking about it.  But I want people to understand.  I want to be heard.  I want people to be okay with being ignorant about it. I want them to ask questions.

I don’t to be the subject of gossip behind my back.  I don’t want people to think I’m weird, or selfish, or crazy.

I guess that’s why I’m talking about it here.  I hope that one day this vag stuff will be a bit more mainstream and we can stop hiding.

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Cookie Monster

Well – it works!

In my last post, I mentioned that I had ordered a new toy from Womyn’s Ware, at the request of my pelvic physiotherapist.  Hubby and I picked out a charming metallic blue silicone dildo, that looked to be one size up from dilator #6 but not quite as “OH MY GOD” as size #7. I chose to go with the fancy blue one ’cause it just seemed….icky….to order a toy that’s skin-coloured, y’know?

Anyways, when we left off, I was about to head into my physio appointment with the new blue toy tucked discreetly in my purse. And I’m pleased to report – it wasn’t horrifying!! It was definitely interesting to work with something a bit bigger and more “lifelike,” complete with a few bumps and ridges.  But all things considered, it actually went in quite easily.

My physiotherapist was pretty cute about the whole thing.  She’s already one of the most adorable people on the planet, but her face just lit up when I got the whole thing inside me – and easily.  I think she expected me to be a bit more elated, but as someone who gets easily worked up and tense due to any strong emotion – happy, sad, thrilled, angry – I tried to remain calm and relaxed.  I knew that if I actually spent a few seconds to consider what was happening, I probably would have burst into tears.

So, instead of doing that in her office, I did that on my drive home. Tears of joy, mind you.  6 months ago, I never would have thought that I could have gotten to this point. Never.

Anyways, my physio and I decided that my toy needed a name (other than “giant blue dildo”).  Hubby somehow started referring to it as the “blue monster.”  I jokingly suggested the “cookie monster,” which is somehow ridiculous and fitting at the same time. It’s light-hearted and a bit twisted, just like me.

I think it’ll stick. :)

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Space Invaders

I’ve been a bad kid.  I haven’t been doing my homework as much as I should (my pelvic physio homework with my dilators).

Things have changed around my house recently.  Normally, my husband and I live alone.  But my older brother is currently living with us for 6 weeks while he takes a course.  He’s not a terrible roommate and we generally don’t mind having him around.  It’s just that…..I don’t really want to sit around the house, inserting dilators into my vag, knowing that my brother is watching a Star Trek re-run in the next room.  It’s just not comfortable, y’know?

And yes, I know I can shut the door to my bedroom.  And I realize it’s quite unlikely that he’ll disturb me.  But I still don’t want to deal with the off chance that he’ll need to knock on my door to ask me a question, and I won’t be able to get up to answer the door.  It’s awkward.

So, I’ve tried to do my homework a few times during the day (I work from home), while my bro is away at school.  But this means that hubby can’t be part of the magic ’cause he’s at work. So, it’s become a solitary practice lately, which is not altogether terrible, but can get a bit tiring and boring.

Anyways, I’m off to see my physio this afternoon, and I’m hoping I haven’t brought on any set-backs due to my lack of practicing.  But I’m excited to go today because I’m armed with a new toy.  For some reason, my set of dilators has a rather terrifying difference in size between #6 and #7.  #7 is the last and personally, I think it looks inhumanly huge.  But after careful measurement, it turns out hubby is close to the same size (smaller, but close). I know I should be thinking “Lucky me!” but really, it’s more of a sick joke that the universe is playing on me :)

Long story short, my phsyio asked me to go find a new toy that is somewhere between the size of #6 and #7.  Hubby and I spent some quality time surfing the web and decided on a crazy metallic blue silicone dildo from Womyn’s Ware, which just came in the mail the other day (embarrassingly enough, my brother signed for the package and although it was fairly non-descript, I’m hoping he didn’t put two and two together when he saw that the return address was “Womyn’s Ware”!).

So, today we’ll be exploring the joys of metallic blue silicone at my physio session.  I’ll be sure to report back!

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Too Much Information?

Wanna know my biggest pet peeve?

“When are you guys going to have kids?”

I know people mean well, and I know that they are just curious.  I get that.  But it does get exhausting making the same paper-thin excuses.  I can only tell people that “we’re  taking time to travel first” or “I’m still figuring out what to be when I grow up” or “there are still things we want to do personally” for so long.

What I really want to say is, “Well, the truth is, my vagina is being a bit of a scaredy-cat.  In fact, she’s such a scaredy cat that she doesn’t want to have anything to do with hubby’s penis, and has a panic attack anytime  it comes near here, making it fairly difficult for us to pro-create.  Yes, we’re working on this.  Yes, I’m in therapy.  Yes, I know it sounds unreal.  Yes, it is unbelievably frustrating. And having you remind me that we’re NOT having kids yet, (or even sex at all), really does help the situation. Thank you for that.”

*Sigh*

It might be time for me to stop referring to my va-jay-jay as a scaredy cat. I’m sure that’s not helping things.

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Tampon Talk

As I mention in my last post, I just joined the Vaginismus Support Group (a Yahoo group created to support women who struggle with vaginismus).  This morning, I read through and replied to a post from a newbie who had just been diagnosed with vaginismus and was reminded about my first experience with a tampon.

Oh, tampons! They seemed almost mythical to me as a teenager.  I heard other girls talking about using them, but when I tried, I just couldn’t seem to find the right hole.  I thought I was probably just doing something wrong, and never really gave it a second thought.  I just assumed that because I wasn’t sexually active and was a bit more prudish than the other girls, I just had to stick with pads and be done with it.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20′s that I actually tried using one again.  I’m not sure what brought me to the point of utter determination, but one evening, I found myself alone in my bathroom, squatting over the toilet and refusing to leave that room until I finally got one inserted.  I read those instructions so friggin’ thoroughly. And I remember it took ages, and I was relieved that my boyfriend (now my husband) was out of town because I’m sure he would have wondered what I was doing cooped up in there for so long.

But I finally got one in.  And almost fainted.  I literally felt dizzy and light in the head and had to sit, head between my knees, for a few minutes until the feeling passed.  Of course, I immediately harkened back to that ominous bolded print on the instruction sheet, warning users about toxic shock syndrome and listing faintness and nausea as one of the symptoms.

I did not sleep that night.  Although the faintness and nausea went away, I was convinced I had done damage to my body and the next morning, I took myself straight to my doctor’s.  Thankfully, I had an incredibly understanding and educated doctor, and she told me I had done everything totally right, and that toxic shock syndrome is incredibly rare and generally only occurs when you’ve had a tampon in for an overly extended amount of time. In her nice and understanding way, I think she tried to tell me I had just had a panic attack.

That night, I spoke to my mom on the phone.  She was aware of some of the vagina problems I had been having, and I felt like I needed to nurture my inner teenage self and just ask someone all those ridiculous first-time tampon user questions.  Will it ever just fall out? What if it gets stuck? Can I poop when I’ve got one in? Can I sleep with one in? I felt a bit ridiculous being a 26-year-old and needing to ask these questions of my mom (didn’t I pay attention in Sex-Ed class?) but my mom was great, and handled it like it was the most normal thing ever.

Nowadays, I use tampons quite regularly.  It did take me awhile to get used to them, but I discovered that a lubricant helped a lot to get them in/out.  And I think the regular use of tampons also really curbed my vulvar vestibulitis.  I remember that my first months of using tampons always felt somewhat uncomfortable.  I was always accutely aware that there was something in my vagina.  Now I don’t feel them at all.

There are definitely things worth celebrating on this crazy vagina journey :)

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Crazy Brain Vs. Nervous Vag

So, I spent a good portion of yesterday researching and lurking on other vag blogs.  I commented here and there, but mostly did a lot of reading.  I also joined an online vaginismus support group via Yahoo Groups.

Gotta say, I’m pretty stunned to find a community out there.  When I first heard the word “vaginismus,” I was about 21 years old. My doctor didn’t really know much about it, but she referred me to a gyno, who also didn’t know much about it, so he referred me to a local organization that specializes in sexual medicine.  They seemed to know a bit more there, but I still felt a certain lack of….understanding, maybe? I couldn’t find much online, although it was the year 2000.  I think the web has come a long way since then.

Regardless, I’m embarrassed to say that I pretty much gave up on learning anything about this scary, weird “vag word.”  I just mentally categorized myself as “sexually abnormal” and basically resolved myself to the fact that I likely wasn’t going to have sex until I just sucked it up and forced it to happen, pain, panic and all. I suppose I suspected there were others out there like me, but it seemed like an insurmountable task to try and locate them.

Thankfully, the web has expanded, research has improved and I’m surprised to learn there are a lot more resources out there.  And people are talking.

I’m also thankful to learn that I’ve actually come a really long way.  I read multiple stories online yesterday about women who can barely even look at their dilators, let alone use them.  I read about women who can’t sit down because their vulvodynia is so bad. I read about women who can’t speak to the partners about the big old bad “vag word”, or women who have lost partners because of it.

I’m lucky. I’m still battling, but I’m on dilator number 6 (my set has 7).  My vulvodynia is manageable, if not totally non-existent, if I concentrate on breathing and relaxing. My hubby has stuck around through the worst of it, and has been incredibly involved in all the vag work I’ve been doing.

I think my biggest hurdle is the panic and anxiety, most of which is manifested in my own brain.  I need my brain to make friends with my va-jay-jay.

Crazy brain – meet nervous va-jay-jay.  Nervous va-jay-jay – meet crazy brain.  Now go off  you two, and learn how to play nicely together.

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Let’s Dive In, Shall We?

Well, I think it’s time to stop putting it off. It’s time to write my first post on The Eccentric Tulip.

In all honesty, I think I’ve been putting it off because I don’t really know where to start.  My original plan was to start at the beginning, but I don’t even really know where that is.  I’ve been living with vaginismus for pretty much my whole (sexually-active) life.  I don’t remember a specific instance when I suddenly realized I had these vagina troubles.  They’ve just always been there. I wasn’t raped or molested.  I never had any sexual “trauma”.

But I’ve never had sex. I’ve gotten to the point at times when I didn’t even care about having sex (and I tell you, my husband loved that…..ahem….).

So, maybe it’s more important to start with where I am now. I just turned 32.  For the past 6 months or so, I’ve come leaps and bounds along the road to having sex. I spent many years ignoring the issues, and on the odd occasions when I was ready to face my demons, I couldn’t seem to find the right help. And then last year, everything seemed to click into place.

I had been seeing a counselor for anxiety and stress-related issues (more on that later, I’m sure) and she referred me and my husband to a local sex therapist who was reputably one of the best in town. That sex therapist then referred me to a local pelvic physiotherapist.  This team of professionals has literally been “the answer”, not to mention my personal cheerleading section.  I still haven’t had sex, but I’m getting closer every day.

I see my pelvic physiotherapist once a week or so, and I do “homework” on my own in between visits.  My husband and I see our sex therapist every 3 weeks or so, and I see my counselor every 2-3 weeks.  I’m confident that with this team of professionals behind me, and my husband’s understanding and dedication backing me, we’ll be on the road to baby-making soon!

And so, here’s to my blogging journey! I’m not sure how frequently I’ll write, but I feel like I have so much to say about all this, especially if I look back on the years and years that I’ve spent struggling and trying to find a solution.  It’s my intention to approach writing about this with honesty, positivity and humour so that the issues of vaginismus and vulvodynia become more accessible and less scary.  Please feel free to comment (anonymously or otherwise) and/or contact me directly, as I would love to hear from you!

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