Victory! This past weekend I was totally validated for my Facebook post of last August, in which I announced the birth of this blog and thus the existence of my own history of v pain to what felt like an uncomfortably large sum of people.
At the time it made me feel soooo vulnerable, but I now have evidence that putting myself in that super-uncomfortable position paid off.
I was at my 10 year college reunion this past weekend, and I ran into an old friend of mine. He told me that he has been trying to refer a friend to this blog (which he heard about on Facebook, wink wink), but she's so upset about her v pain that she hasn't been able to bring herself to check us out.
Yes, it sucks that she is struggling, but on the plus side she knows where to find us if she ever wants to reach out, AND how amazing is it that she has a friend who is has already heard of v pain, is comfortable talking about it, and is cheering her quest to get better (she has found a PT who is helping!)?
The fact that my Facebook post, as vulnerable as it made me feel, could facilitate someone I have never met having a supportive friend walk beside her during a miserable time made me feel so good. (It does help that Josh is freakin' amazing already.)
At the reunion I also got a chance to chat with a biology professor conducting research on vulvodynia and the immune system with funding from the NVA (again, I was referred to her by someone who had seen my Facebook post.) She said that her students are always nervous when they start to work in her lab, but after a while they would get the hang of it: terms like "vulvodynia" and "vulvar pain" are soon no big deal.
These two experiences reminded me of the (freeing) power of communication and the (oppressive) power of silence.
Our future potential progress on finding treatment and care for v pain depends completely on our ability to communicate about it.
Staying silent is understandable. We don't have pre-existing ways of discussing this topic comfortably and we have major cultural baggage around it and it's many cousins. But if we stay silent, we will never build the communication structures we need and life will continue to suck for us and millions of other women.
I challenge you to push your boundaries and communicate about v pain in some way that is new to you. If it's too scary to think of telling someone else about v pain, start by communicating with yourself. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Draw a picture.
- Make a self-portrait.
- Write a poem.
- Make a movie poster for a documentary about v pain that could happen some day.
- Make a list of all the women you know who have been affected by v pain.
- Write about what you wish your medical care experience was like.
- You could even post about it on Facebook ;)
Over time you can build up to talking with other people. If you are not ready to tell them your personal story, you can always share information about v pain itself - how it is an important women's health topic that affects many and is being brushed under the rug, etc.
And if you still think all of that is too scary, I ask you this: is it scarier to talk about v pain, or to live in a world where no one talks about v pain and millions of women and their loved ones suffer as a result?
I mean really...
So. Happy talking and art-making and communicating! It may seem small, but what you are doing is actually quite bad-ass. Who knows who you may help in the future...?