How do I love a body that refuses to love me back?
How do you love a body that refuses to love you back.
That’s a question I’ve had for what feels like forever. To be clear – if you’re looking for an answer in this post, I don’t think you’re going to find it. This is more grumpy personal insight than how-to, unfortunately. If I do ever find the step-by-step guide I’ll let you know.
In a time where self-love, self-care, body-acceptance and celebration all feel like they’re constantly trending, what do you do when your body just…kinda fuckin sucks? And I know that I am just utterly draped in various privileges, things could always be worse, be glad they’re not worse, count your blessings and all that – where do you find support (and not feel guilty for wanting or needing support) when things aren’t the worst-case-scenario? How do you keep yourself from continuing to be the kind of person who puts things off until they actually develop into their worst-case-scenario because you didn’t feel worthy of a pain-free or fully-functioning body before you’d properly suffered enough? And how the fuck do you do any of it at a time like this?
I don’t know. I wish I did. Even if I did I still probably wouldn’t use that information to help myself because I’m just that kind of person but at least maybe I could tell you. But I can’t.
In a time where self-love, self-care, body-acceptance and celebration all feel like they’re constantly trending, what do you do when your body just…kinda fuckin sucks?
I don’t write a lot of personal stuff (certainly not as much as I’d like to, not as much as I’d planned to when I first got the idea to start a sex blog) and I attribute that quite largely to this ever-growing disconnect I’m feeling from my sexuality. About half of that has to do with my personal life being complete shit a lot of the time, but the other half is housed in the physical. My body feels busted in one way or another all the time, and it’s hard to feel sexy or sexual in that space. I dwell rather frequently on what-used-to-be, when I was younger, when I was thinner, when my joints didnt sound like rice krispies, when I was slightly less goddamn depressed (or at least ignored it better) when I felt wanted, when I felt prettier, when I didn’t get foot cramps (seriously, how did I go my whole life without a single foot cramp and then BAM here they all are waiting for the perfect moment when I’m about to orgasm to attack me?)
I dwell on very real very clear bodily changes like going from easily multiple-orgasmic to struggling for only one. Like developing dysorgasmia (painful orgasms) that is very likely due to my self-diagnosed-because-doctors-wont-take-me-seriously endometriosis which is ALSO causing a fun new thing this past year called cervical ectropion (when the tissue cells that usually grow on the uterus-facing side of the cervix start growing on the vagina-facing side which freaks out your gyno and makes them send you for a colposcopy which is where they snip off a piece of your cervix for testing and that fuckin hurts and then they stop the bleeding with a paste that the nurse warns you will look like you’re discharging a glob of “coffee grounds in peanut butter” for the next week and she’s horrifyingly correct in her description) (the test came back fine by the way, so there’s my silver lining slash phrase I use to put myself down and feel guilty whenever I get the urge to not be over-the-moon about my body – at least it’s not cancer)
There’s nothing sexy about worrying if you’re about to seriously hurt yourself by trying to access an iota of sexual pleasure.
Not having a doctor who wants to help has never made any of this easier. Self-advocacy in medical settings is not something I’ve ever been particularly good at. On the personal side of it, I’m deeply introverted, anxious, never-want-to-be-a-bother, and have spent my whole life telling myself that everything is all in my head anyway. On the professional side of things – I’m not the fuckin doctor. People go to a doctor because they don’t know whats wrong and can’t fix it themselves. We’re supposed to be able to trust our health care providers and feel safe and comfortable asking them about quite literally everything. People shouldn’t have to kick and scream and beg for that, but here we are anyway. My doctors have never done that for me. Even specifically my gynaecologists have a way of making me feel like I’m some kind of burden because I make them do their jobs, and any question or lack of understanding I might have around something makes me more useless than a rock. I’ve had the guts to bring up that I think I tick all the boxes for endometriosis several times and the best response I’ve gotten is a “yeah, probably.” before being shooed out of the office with my birth control refill. Never a “do you want to look into that? Let’s schedule another appointment where we have more time to discuss why you think this is whats wrong, how to test for it, and what your recovery options are.” I had a gyno tell me I was taking my birth control pill the wrong way (and when I mentioned I was taking it the way my last doctor told me I could but it wasnt noted in my chart, she all but flat-out called me a liar) tell me that she’d refill my prescription anyway because she’d determined in less than a minute of meeting me that I was “just going to do what I wanted to anyway.” When I expressed concern that I was taking a medication that is altering my body “wrong” and asked if there was a different pill I could be taking to achieve the same outcome, or perhaps try a different method she only told me we didn’t have time. Did not suggest I book a follow-up where we could spend the time to address my issues and find a solution, just showed me the door. Of course, I could have asked for those follow-ups as the door hit me on the ass on my way out, but I was already feeling like a kicked puppy for daring to step foot in their office and suppose they do the work they signed up for in the first place. Nevermind the huge swaths of medical professionals who dont even believe that things like endometriosis exist let alone care to treat them. Nevermind the enormous number of doctors who would shrug if I told them that orgasms hurt me because they just don’t fucking care about whether or not women can access pleasure. Some of them might even think I deserve it – like the gynaecologist I had when I was 22 who cornered me for a lecture on monogamy and heterosexuality when I went in for an STI screening. My state’s health department required a waiver be signed for HIV testing, which needed to be explained to you and witnessed by a doctor (the nurses did all the other exams and blood draws.) He asked me why I was getting STI screenings if I didn’t believe I had an STI, and when I told him it was the responsible thing for me to do when I had multiple partners, decided I couldn’t have my paper and leave until he made sure to tell me that bisexuality was wrong, non-monogamy was a sin, and that married heterosexual people have “healthier happier more trustworthy” sex lives, and apparently if you trust your partner, you don’t have to ever get a silly STI test ever, so if I was there getting screened either I didn’t trust my boyfriend (I didn’t even tell him I had a boyfriend) or in the most scolding, slut-shaming and STI-shaming way possible, said I must not be trustworthy. His brilliant medical opinion was that at 22 I should just find a man and get married, instead of get routine sexual health check-ups. He’s probably the kind of guy who would laugh if I told him orgasms hurt. Afterall, women are only meant for child-bearing, right? And I certainly haven’t done any of that.
Which brings me back around to endometriosis – since I’ve had all the time the world to webMD my brains out. Endometriosis is where the cells that make up the tissue for uterine lining decide to start growing outside the uterus. Inside the uterus, that tissue gets flushed out every time you have a period, but there’s no flushing mechanism outside the uterus, and nowhere for that tissue to be flushed to, so it just builds and builds. Those cells can latch onto any number of other organs (which those organs do not like) and it fuckin hurts. In severe cases it can get so thick that it lashes your organs together, restricting movement, cutting off bloodflow or obstructing pathways like your digestive or respiratory system. It can travel through your entire body cavity, knitting all your inside parts together – upon autopsy doctors have found endometrial tissue in people’s brains (extremely rare, but it still happens). It’s got to do with a uterus so they of course don’t know a cause, or a cure. You manage it with birth control (already on that, so that’s not working), you surgically cut it all out and take your insides back apart (if you can – sometimes it’s so attached that they cant remove all of it, and if they do there’s a 50+% chance it just grows back and you had surgery for nothing) or you – drum roll please – get pregnant. For some reason pregnancy tells your uterine lining to chill the fuck out and a lot of people who struggled with endometriosis before, don’t see a resurgence of it after they’ve had a baby. I’m not having a baby just to make my fucking uterus work properly, so basically I just wallow in a pit of hopelessness all the time while maintaining a diet of muscle relaxers and never not taking a birth control pill because if I were to have a period the cramps would cause me to black out and – as has happened in the past – further injure myself. I dream of the day I can get the entire useless bag of biological garbage ripped out of me, but I’ll likely never find a doctor who won’t tell me I’m too young and “might regret it, what if I want kids?” unless/until it becomes even more debilitatingly severe. Or I turn 50. Until then, my uterus is left unchecked to tie my insides in knots. Knots that will further complicate a hysterectomy should that blessed day ever come.
* Quick shout-out to canada for selling muscle relaxers over-the-counter. I can’t envision the world I’d be in without them, and as an american who was extremely broke, unemployed, and uninsured previous to my move to canada, I very seriously mean that. If I had started to experience this before my move, or if I had never moved, I do not know what I would have done. I briefly tried prescription-strength pain killers (which I also wouldn’t have had access to in the US) and they just made matters worse, so I keep a steady stock of Robax and also preach the methocarbamol gospel to anyone with a problematic uterus who will listen. *
The endo is very likely what’s feeding the dysorgasmia. I used to very easily orgasm, I used to have lots of orgasms, and I used to not have to worry about the quality of orgasm. Over the last few years, the pain I feel with orgasm has steadily increased, and now is a major source of anxiety which makes reaching orgasm even harder. There’s nothing sexy about worrying if you’re about to seriously hurt yourself by trying to access an iota of sexual pleasure. 100% of the time I’ll experience intense uterine cramping alongside the vaginal muscle spasms of orgasm. If I manage to achieve a very intense orgasm and make it last long enough, the pleasure manages to mask the pain long enough to enjoy it, and I’m left with anything ranging from a dull manageable ache, to full on “I feel like I’m being stabbed in the gut” cramps that require some kind of drug intervention. This is part of why I require serious powerhouse vibrators. It’s possible for me to reach orgasm on weaker vibes, but the orgasm itself is proportionately weak, and there’s not enough pleasure to override the pain. Under normal circumstances an orgasm that didn’t quite reach earth-shattering-mind-blowing-see-the-galaxy status would be just fine, most people don’t have that kind of intensity every single time they cum. I didn’t used to, and that was perfectly okay. But now I require it or it hurts too fucking much to have been worth it. And I spend the entire time I’m trying to get off thinking about that, worrying that I’m going to fall short of the mark, dreading what it’s going to do to my body when it’s over – will I have to get out of bed and find the muscle relaxers? Will I be able to get to sleep or will this keep me up all night in agony because I dared try to feel good for a second. Feeling rather sorry for myself that this is where my body has landed me, and getting fucking depressed and self-loathy – all while trying to cum.
That’s how I view my body these days – something nobody else should have to bother with
It bleeds over into my sex life, which has been non-existent for the last 4 years until i-shit-you-not one month before the pandemic hit. I finally meet someone and put myself back out there…and now thats over upsidedownsmileyfaceemoji. But this existed long before my last relationship ended and it would still affect any new ones regardless of quarantine (my timing just sucks extra hard) When I’m supposed to be having fun and feeling good and enjoying myself, I’m instead doing calculations in my head about how worth it it will be for the inevitable self-injury of getting to cum too. I already almost apologetically explain that they shouldn’t try to make me cum from sex because I can’t – I need a vibrator and thanks to only doing it myself in one way for so long, that has to be in a certain position and without all the jostling around that sex causes. That’s okay, I don’t mind taking turns, and I’m fucking someone mature and knowledgable enough to handle hearing “your dick won’t do it for me, I need a toy” so he’s no longer expecting a cinematic synchronized explosion and doesnt have to wait for me. That’s fine. But then I’m wondering if I should even try to orgasm at all – what time is it? Is he going to stick around for a while afterwards, is there something else I need to get out of bed and do for the rest of the day/night? Am I going to have to weather that time fighting off black-out cramps? Is this guy I’m not even calling “my partner” yet going to see me cry after sex? If I do try am I going to be able to reach orgasm at all while I’m juggling the added stress of having another party involved in something that is already plenty difficult on its own? Oh and the bleeding – that cervical ectropion I mentioned earlier causes the tissue on the wrong side of the cervix to bleed when you touch it, so I have to mention that in case blood freaks him out. Again, I’m fucking a mature adult who can handle things like this, but for some people their aversion to blood goes beyond an immature “ew gross” and they deserve a warning. At the very least I don’t want him absent-mindedly smearing blood-soaked fingers on my sheets because of course I didn’t put anything down beforehand. Is this even worth it? Maybe I should just tell him not to bother and I’ll deal with it myself later when he’s gone.
That’s how I view my body these days – something nobody else should have to bother with, and orgasm – as dealing with it. I don’t have a body that lets me feel sexy or happy or stress-free. All that media about “masturbation is self-care” and it’s good for you and it will fix your shit self-esteem and also your headaches… that’s not for me. How am I supposed to feel sexy in a body whose sex organs are actively trying to cause injury all the time? How is potentially putting myself in the fetal position on the floor of the shower in agony self-care? On top of all the other mounds of shit that make me feel poorly about myself – I’m in physical pain every time I try to feel physical pleasure. It’s like a self-induced punishment. How dare I?
Outside of reviews for my blog, the purpose of orgasm is largely a sleep aid. I don’t fuck myself for fun anymore, not for years now, it’s all about knocking myself out when I can’t shut my brain off at night. Thanks to depression and probably also ADHD (I’m one big walking self-diagnosis) I have immense difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep – I don’t think I really know what rest feels like, only unconsciousness. If I’m lucky I can have a strong enough orgasm to wear me out so by the time the pain comes I’m asleep and wont feel it too badly. If I’m not lucky it doesnt exhaust me enough and then I’m back to refreshing a stagnant twitter feed for 3 more hours, or I’ll fall asleep and then wake up around 5am feeling like I need to scream from the pain that’s been giving me cold sweats and really fucked up nightmares, and I’ll have to drag myself out of bed to find some drugs and something to drink with them and then by the time thats over I’m fully awake and won’t be getting back to sleep soon enough which means I’ll still be in bed at 2, 3, 4pm later on. Cue the guilt of being “worthless and lazy.” There’s nothing sexy about that. None of that feels really good, even if orgasm feels good in the moment. There’s no empowerment there.
It causes me to question the integrity of my reviews. Am I being unnecessarily harsh? Should I even be giving this opinion? Is it actually helpful when the thing that causes me to have it is something that’s not just different about my body, but wrong, something malfunctioning about my body? If I didn’t have these issues I probably wouldn’t need a sex toy that causes an orgasm powerful enough to move mountains, it’s not the toy manufacturers fault my uterus is busted so is it really fair of me to say I think a vibrator is bad? Am I actually helping anyone by sharing that opinion when it’s not likely that many other people will have the same experience? I’m clearly biased and clearly miserable – does that have any value in this industry?
I feel divorced from my body – like it’s this entirely separate entity from me. I talk about it like it’s not mine, it’s this other thing that is plotting to do me harm and has the sentient capacity and autonomy to do so. My body is a separate monster that is working against me. How do you love a body that isn’t even you…and also it fuckin hates you?