The Trouble With Ovaries

I have always been astounded by how men can say they have balls and they are tough and women are delicate. Women don’t have the balls to do some things. This is made clear in random conversations and media pressure.

However, women have ovaries. Those are our gonads. So, we are just as tough.

I read a book in college called That Takes Ovaries. It consisted of short narrative memoir pieces about how women overcame certain life issues and claimed their femininity as their power. As a result, a friend of mine and I decided to have a regular night every month to celebrate our ovaries. We were women and we were powerful, in our own ways. Our nights consisted of talking about our issues and validating each other. We also watched movies that frequently made us cry as we identified with the characters and the sanctity of life and our choices.

In 2016, I had one ovary removed. I had dealt with pain for two years and after multiple ultrasounds, my doctor decided to do surgery to remove a large cyst. Unfortunately, the left ovary was completely covered and there was no saving it. Less than a year later, my right ovary was covered in a cyst the size of my uterus. The doctor saved half of my remaining ovary.

Last year, I went through six months of lupron and am still in pain. So, on January 3, 2019, I opted for a hysterectomy. It is being scheduled and I am stuck wondering about menopause.

I have not a period in about 4-5 years. I have given up on having children for a variety of reasons. When I was in my twenties, I dreamed of having children and every time I had a period, I recalled victims of the holocaust, who reveled in their period as it marked their still being a woman. I have oft been told that my chances of having children is slim, but at every period, I thought, “I am still fertile.”

Now, I will never be able to have children. My half of an ovary may be gone for good. The endometriosis and pelvic pain will be remedied. However, my hormonal flux will take a while to end. I’ve already had hot flashes and fear I am being watched by the EPA for the heat waves I am emitting and the possibility that I am contributing to global warming.

I am not sure that I will not continue to alienate people. I am not sure when the crying in the first five minutes of a movie will end. I am not sure when the guilt of saying something out of the ordinary will end. My hormones, right now, remind me of my state of mind in my teens when I obsessed over everything.

I imagine that things will improve with time, but, for now, I am emotional and am ready to think about life without pain. I think, even without gonads, I may still be a strong woman.

Safety

Years ago, I met a guy on an internet forum and we grew close. We lived a few states away from each other, but we would spend hours talking on the phone in college (after 9 pm, because that was free minute time). We parted ways amicably and were friends on facebook for a time. I deactivated and then started again after a hack.

I recently got into the Fitbit craze. I met a guy on the community forum and we messaged back and forth. He wanted my number. He seemed legit, so I gave it to him. He called me and it was obvious that he was not from Jersey, or the USA, nor was he the age he claimed to be. I told him things were moving too fast, trying to keep him at bay and end things without too much fuss. He continued to message me and found me on other places, using my number. I blocked him, but he used other numbers to contact me.

I changed my number and he found me on Whatsapp; my profile updated the new number. So, I deleted whatsapp, facebook, messenger, pandora, my parking app… I changed my email address. I changed my number a second time.

I think the issue has been resolved and that he can’t find me again, but it left me feeling very afraid. I know that I was being too trusting and too hopeful. I just really wanted the opportunity to try a relationship. This debacle has made me feel violated, alone, scared, and hopeless. I commented to a friend that I might as well go out, get drunk, and hook up for all of the damage that I had to fix. I was joking, but I was being honest, too.

Today’s society has us meeting people online. I have tried the online dating thing with mixed results. Guys lie, offer dick pics, and make you feel like garbage if you don’t give in to their demands. I had one guy ask me if my vagina worked, since I was saving myself for marriage. As if a broken vagina (what?!?!?) is the only reason not to have sex.

I am saddened by today’s state of affairs. I am appalled by how quickly lives can be disrupted with one phone number.

“I just met you and this is crazy, but here’s my number and call me maybe”

— Carly Rae Jepson

My Value Is In Who I Am, Not In What You Say I Am

The holidays are here. As are the ideas about body shape and size needing to change in the New Year. When I was in college, I was constantly trying to have the perfect body. I got up at 6, did yoga, ate (not really) breakfast, and continued with a very active day that included very little food, except peanut butter (approved by the south beach diet). All I ate was vegetables and protein. I was 21 and wearing children’s clothes and still thought I needed to lose weight.

I am currently unhappy with my body, plus size body, but watched a film today that reminded me that my worth does not come from a size tag. Amazing how watching others struggle and overcome their thoughts about beauty makes one reconsider one’s own versions of beauty. 

There was a quote that I ran across in college that helped me rethink weight goals. I reconsidered it today.

“My weight is always perfect for my height, which varies.” – Nicole Hollander

I love heels. As a result, my height varies from 5’5″ to 5’10”. My weight varies too. And maybe, just maybe, I could view the number as perfect.

The most important thing to remember is that one’s body size does not define one’s value. 

I went to a party the other night and did my hair and wore a bright red dress. I felt amazing and had a wonderful time. I had not lost any weight, my dress size didn’t go down, my hair was not 6 inches longer, my glasses were still on my face, but I felt valued and that made me feel beautiful. I don’t know if it was from doing my hair, or from people noticing me, not because my body was perfect, but because I had something to say. What I know is that for the first time in a long time, I felt worthwhile to people outside of my family and it wasn’t because of my dress size.

When I was a child, I ate whatever I wanted and never worried about body shape or size. Those worries came in junior high when there was such pressure to wear the perfect clothes and have one’s makeup done just right. There were extenuating circumstances in addition to regular peer pressure, but the need to be perfect was on. I was a force of nature, despite my wanting to fit in. However, I once refused to wear makeup because a classmate suggested that I only looked nice when I wore it. My motto was and should be: Like me for me, not for what I wear. I refused to wear nametags in college, claiming that if people needed me to remind them week after week what my name was, then I was not too interested in knowing them.

Now, can I follow this advice? Can I be like my fourteen year old self and refuse to let society tell me what to think about myself? Can I find my value in who I am, instead of my body? Can I know who I am instead of the world telling me?

Dolly Parton said, “Find out who you are and do it with purpose.”

Christmas Problems

Hello. Sorry for the delay in my posts. I have been dealing with my own seasonal blues and dealing with changes in how I approach things.

I am trying to live healthier and happier. My goals include loving myself and loving what I do. These have been long time goals of mine and yet, they keep getting shoved back for what seems more plausible, more achievable, easier.

I have started being more active, reading more, and trying to write more. As I keep saying: I want more.

I struggle with the holidays every year. I always fear that I will end up in the hospital again and miss out on family. I hate the blues. I struggle with the cold. I miss the sun.

This year, I’m attending multiple parties. I have avoided parties of any sort for about 2 to 3 years. I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing or not being good enough to be there. I have also struggled with body image and feeling guilty for eating anything.

This year, I am going anyway. This year, I got my Christmas shopping done and gave some gifts early just to see smiles. When my younger brother was little, my favorite part of Christmas was watching him smile as he unwrapped presents. Now, I have nieces and nephews that I get to spoil, but I don’t always get to see the gifts opened, so I have to find another joy in Christmas.

However, giving presents is not the point of Christmas. It reflects the present we were given by Christ, but it is not the reason for the season, as they say. The true reason is to celebrate the birth of Jesus, which was the ultimate Christmas present, as He later died for us.

I have been doing a great bit of soul-searching this season and trying to reflect on all of the things for which I am grateful and I have struggled. I am struggling with depression and anxiety, but it is manageable (Win!). My body is not perfect, but I am able to do many things (Win!). I am not working, but I am free to write (Win!).

I would love to have a normal Christmas, but those don’t really happen. For everyone, there is a flaw in Christmas. I am not sure why, but a human Christmas will never be perfect. Only God can make Christmas perfect and He already did that; the way to improve our Christmases is to put God first and reflect on our gifts and be grateful for all that we have.

I wish you all a happy weekend and I hope that you enjoy this season and have the ability to practice gratitude for the ultimate gift of Christmas.

Santa Doesn’t Exist

When I was about six, I believed in Santa for about two hours. The neighborhood kids were telling me about the importance of sending this great mythical jolly man a letter. That was how one got presents and everything one wanted for Christmas. So, I wrote a letter and labeled the envelope with a guess as to where it should be delivered. I hoped my mom knew the rest of the address. I left it on the table for her to find and mail next time we went to the post office.

Then, I found it in the trash. So, maybe Santa wasn’t real. Or maybe, Santa lives in a trash heap. Either way, my letter was garbage.

I find it interesting how this season is so often about what you can give and get. I love to give presents, to the point that I once spent $2,000 on Christmas when I only made $500 a month. Credit cards were paid off, but some of the things I purchased were never used.

However, Christmas and Thanksgiving are about gratitude and a celebration of the ultimate gifts we have: our faith and our freedom. Settlers came here to avoid religious persecution. Some criminals were sent here as a means of completing their sentences. I cannot say that our ancestors were perfect, but I am grateful that they worked hard and began the foundation of this country.

Children love Santa, but why not invite them to love true history and practice gratitude for more than that gift in the catalogue. I remember being upset about the letter being thrown in the garbage, but I guess that was one way that I knew, for sure, there was no Santa and that my gifts came from a more unconditional source: my parents and God.

So, as we enter this season, I encourage you to practice gratitude for the many blessings you have and maybe for the things you don’t have. Our plights in life enable us to do far more for ourselves and others than we even know. While there may be a struggle, in the twinkling of that struggle, there is opportunity.

Faith and Freedom: May they greet you each day and sleep by you at night.

Battleship

About this time of year (25 years or so ago), my family would get the Sears Christmas catalog. My brother and I would spend weeks poring over it, trying to decide what we wanted more. I always wanted holiday Barbie or some fancy Barbie. I never got holiday Barbie, but I always got something better and more in line with my play values.

I also used to peek at the presents in my parents closet. One year, there was Battleship and my sister and I were certain that it had been purchased for my brother, but it was my gift and I wondered why my parents would buy a gift like that for a GIRL. After I played it (and cheated), I realized that it was precisely my type of game. I love strategy games and playing those games with my brother are some of my fondest memories. When we got older, we played Axis and Allies, Risk, any game that required one to think about their actions and the actions of their opponents. I think those games really prepared me for engaging with the world.

It is interesting how I was determined to not like the game because I was a girl and DID NOT play war games. The truth is, I had fist fights with my older brother and the boys in the neighborhood. I was female, but not as feminine as one might think. I was not a tomboy; I fell into the between category. After a few rounds of battleship, I decided that I did play war games.

I think we all have these presumptions about what and who we are supposed to be. As a child, I thought my goal was to get married and be happy. I know that is what some girls’ goals were, but I never could quite get behind those goals. When I went to college, so many of my classmates in the Christian campus organizations wanted to get married. They spent their college careers studying and looking for Mr. Right. I happily declared that I was not in college to get my MRS.

I think playing war games taught me that it was okay to think outside of the box. It was okay to be timid and bold and conniving and generous and just myself. While I get stuck on who I am sometimes, I recognize that I am nobody else and nobody else is me. My parents saw that and that is why they didn’t get me the same Barbie that all of my friends wanted; they bought me toys that were just for me.

I’m really blessed by my parents. They have stuck with me through all of this mental illness and physical health problems. Good parents will. I just wish I had seen how wonderful they are when I was in high school and college. I was trying to be me and I was looking at myself through the world’s eyes instead of the people who saw me as a child who needed Battleship, my authentic self.

I want to be myself and right now, that is overwhelming. My brain is firing a hundred different ways and I have trouble sitting with myself, but my parents don’t see the mental illness; they see their daughter with a penchant for critical thinking and creating loving chaos. If my parents love me this much, imagine how much God loves me. He helped them pick out Battleship.

Shut the Front Door

I am pulling it together; I am feeling less like there are rocks in my brain and more like I have the ability to make decisions–smart decisions. I am slowing down and less aware of sensory elements. I am remembering most of what I am doing, too.

With mental illness, society likes to pass judgement. I am bipolar and I feel stigmatized, even by myself. When I have an episode, I think that I have not tried hard enough and I have the judgement that I failed somehow.

I watch police shows and they always present the mentally ill as unreliable witnesses. They have trouble staying on their meds and they fall prey to a justice system that blames them for their illness. I recognize the shows are fiction, but it is an estimation of how some people view mental illness.

When I was in college, my doctor insisted that I was bipolar. Every appointment, he would ask me if I did anything risky. He asked if I had sex with strangers, went on spending sprees, texted while driving; he insisted that I was engaging in behaviors that were beyond my realm of experience. At the time, I had never done any of those things. I was a sarcastic person and I made it impossible to work with me while he insisted on something I understood as crazy. Unipolar depression was how I was diagnosed and he was cruel to push these activities. If he had asked about energy and getting things accomplished and a sense of purpose… Perhaps, I would have listened, but he made the bipolar diagnosis sound morally corrupt.

By the time I was diagnosed, I had done so many things that damaged my life. I am still recovering. However, I have not given up on this idea that it is my fault. My doctor in college made me feel that I was a waste of time; in fact, he told me that I was a drain on the university healthcare system. I was devastated and even now, with the slightest hint that I am not doing my best, I feel as though I have disappointed everyone and that I am a waste of time; I feel like my doctors hate me and that I have destroyed everything that I worked hard to put together. I know these are fallacies, but they were pushed so many times by people in my life: friends, doctors, roommates, etc. As a result, I think that I will never be good enough.

These thoughts affect my life in substantial ways. I get overwhelmed by the slightest things and worry that no matter what I do, it will never be good enough.

How does one overcome these fears?

I suppose the only thing I can do is face them; I need to face my family, my doctors, my writing, my friends, my thoughts, and my feelings. I must tell myself to shut the front door and stop listening to my fears. Only by not giving in to fear and self-criminations will I find wholeness and the life that I want.