Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Vaginismus: My Messy Beautiful

There's something I've wanted to share for a while but wasn't sure I could. "Maybe when it's over," I told myself, but that didn't seem very fair. I'll be vulnerable when I'm not really vulnerable anymore. So I'm going to tell you now. I'll tell you about my problem while it's still a problem. 

It's called vaginismus. Since most of you won't know what that is, I'll explain. Yes, the root word is vagina. So what does it mean? Some people respond to trauma "down there" by having involuntary muscle spasms when something's inserted, from a tampon to a penis. It makes intercourse painful at best and for many women, impossible. It's basically your woo-hoo trying to protect itself by clamping shut. Her special way of saying, "Hell, no! I'm not going there again."

And rightly so, I guess, when things like childbirth and much worse have gone on. I lived oblivious to my condition until I got married and couldn't get past what I thought was virginal pain. After a frustrating nine months, we saw a doctor who explained this wasn't normal pain, assured me it was completely curable, and recommended a counselor and a gynecologist who had experience with vaginismus. He explained my recovery would require working through any sexual abuse in my childhood in addition to physically working toward intercourse.

Inside I was saying, "Dang it! It caught up with me!" 

Up to this point, I'd known about sexual abuse in my past, but since I couldn't remember it, I thought it didn't affect me. I didn't think I needed to be sad or angry or anything else about it! I thought I could just keep going, like it never happened. All that wishful thinking came to a standstill in the doctor's office and was meticulously thrown out over the next four years, with the help of my counselor. 



She was and is a gift. I'm not exaggerating. She helped me see the little girl me with loving eyes (instead of hating her for what she "let" happen) and helped me untangle the lifestyle that had grown out of blaming myself. Things like, being the all-time best predictor of bad things so I could prevent them with wise choices, being a perfectionist, being ruthless with my self and believing I wasn't who God really wanted.

But even when my emotional stuff was sorted, I struggled with the physical. The gynecologist was no help. I researched bio-feedback and saw a physical therapist for the first time. This was grueling but I was hopeful until the day I asked if she thought it was possible for me to have pain-free intercourse. She said there were no guarantees. I was so worn down by then, I quit. 

At this point, we'd been married five years and wanted to have kids. I realized it was too much pressure to push myself to "fix this" in order to have kids, so I went to a new gynecologist and discussed our options. A few months later, we got pregnant with an eyedropper. 

I remember my dreams for our sex life. I was going to be the best lover. I was going to make Brian so happy. In our version of reality, I've doubted all this. I've felt inadequate. I've pushed myself in physical therapy, feeling I had to do it because of what was done to me. I've felt isolated when girlfriends talk about sex. 

But here's the truth. Our sex life is amazing and I don't have to fix this. I know there are a million men who'd never be happy with this situation, but I have the one who is. I told him once, "I wish you could have known this when you picked me," and he just shook his head. Now I know, deeply know, that he's happy. So messy. So beautiful. Right now, for the first time, I'm doing physical therapy because I want to. I'm feeling confident and hopeful because I've learned that my body doesn't always let me down and cause me pain. It can do things it's never done before. And I'm feeling patient, because I know it's not do or die. It's about letting my beautiful shine brighter and letting life be as messy as it wants to be. 



This is part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project started by my favorite blogger - Glennon Melton! Click here to learn more and join us! Glennon also wrote Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, which was just released in paperback. Read it and loved it, as you can see here.


21 comments:

  1. Thank you for your bravery in sharing this. For sharing your version of how God takes our mess (whether it's our doing or not), and turns it into something beautiful. Carry on!

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  2. Brought me to tears ... tears of admiration for your vulnerability ... for your heart ... and ... for your inspiring story! Thank you for letting your beautiful light shine ... you brighten the path for all of us!

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  3. tears in my eyes, you are a strong brave woman

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  4. Proud to know this BRAVE woman! ;)

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  5. Thank you for being brave and sharing this...this is something I've also been struggling with. You aren't alone. *hugs*

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    1. It's amazing to connect, even briefly, with women who are in the same boat as me!! Thank you for being a part of the chorus of "me too's." Wishing you all the love and patience you need for this challenge <3

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  6. Sending you and your lovely man a big hug!

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  7. Wow, wow, wow...thanks for sharing, Kendra.

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  8. Kendra, this brought tears to my eyes. Bless you for your courage to be so open and vulnerable. I had some issues after Codi was born, but thankfully they've been resolved. You are so blessed to have such a wonderful, supportive husband who understands what true love is and what really makes a marriage.

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  9. Oh Kendra I'm in awe of your courage. What a powerful and moving post - thank you for sharing.

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  10. What a brave, beautiful post. Thank you!

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  11. Your courage in owning your story is awe inspiring. Thank you, thank you <3 Justine

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  12. so brave! thank you for sharing your story.

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  13. thank you. this is very courageous and very beautiful

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  14. I'm so sorry you've had to go through this. Just a word of encouragement as I had a bout of this after childbirth...and therapy did help eventually. Also, I was very fortunate to have a friend to talk to about the condition (she had experience with it as well)...so that was huge in finding the courage to start and continue therapy. Thank you for sharing your story...I'm sure there are many women who will read this and find encouragement too.

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  15. KendraKay, thank you for sharing this -- you are brave and beautiful, and there's no telling how many women will be encouraged by this post.
    Jessica

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  16. Thank you for opening your heart with us, your fears and a reality that is often not discussed. My husband and I are going through some of the same issues. We both waited until we were married to have sex and now mentally I've told myself it is a "bad thing" to have sex. So I shut him out. Like your story, we too have ours. It takes courage to share so thank you. I've been working with Michelle and she recommended your blog to me! I know how you feel and I thank God everyday that he gave my husband to me. He is patient and so understanding. We've been married 9 months and I've been in therapy for about 3 months. I believe God put Michelle in my path, our paths to give us time, encouragement, understanding and the knowledge we need to grow.

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    1. I'm so glad you got in touch with Michelle right away! She's fabulous and so encouraging. :) Blessings to you and your sweetheart <3

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  17. I've been suffering from this for my entire marriage (almost 3 years).... it's really embarrassing and REALLY hard on myself and my relationship. My husband doesn't seem to mind because well... to me it's because he's not the problem, it's me. I want to start a family... but we can't because we haven't even had sex. People ask me ALL the time when we're going to have kids... I DONT EVEN KNOW is all I want to say... It's just so tiring and I seriously feel so alone.... :( This post really helped me feel a tiny bit stronger.

    thank you.

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    1. I've felt ALL THOSE THINGS. We seriously got pregnant by putting sperm in a clean glass container and then filling an eye-dropper, which I could accommodate. I'd been in physical therapy before, but it was a lot of pressure to "get it fixed" so we could have babies. It's so freakin' hard...especially when people ask The Question no one should ever ask! If there's anything I can do, please email me. <3

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