Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thoughts from Anna Rose, Part 9

This is the last in a series of posts about my experiences with a sexual pain disorder, and my journey toward a cure.*

In one of my earliest posts, I wrote about how I had finally found a physical therapist who could see me through to the end, finally, of this awful experience. She pinpointed some specific problems, gave me exercises to do to solve them, and was a supportive and feminist force towards my recovery.

Well, she gave up on me.

She used up all her ideas within a couple months and told me to just keep doing the exercises and call her in a month. She suggested I see a rheumatologist, because I "might have a touch of fibromyalsia." The only thing I know about fibromyalsia is that it's not curable, they just throw pain meds at you for the rest of your life, and so I refuse to have it. I blatantly refuse.

I've been asked what I would do if I did have it. I told that person that they didn't seem to understand. I don't have it. I can't have it. It's not denial. It's refusal. I have come too far and fought too hard to suffer with this for the rest of my life. There's nothing in the world that could make me accept a sexless fate.

This is going to sound circular, but I believe that my belief that I will be cured is what will help me be cured. In simple terms it's mind over matter, but I've seen the concept perform miracles. This is a world that contains firewalkers, long-distance healers, human statues, people who meditate for days in the snow. My father severed his spinal cord, and there's no good reason he should be able to walk today--except that while he lay in the hospital, he spent hours each day on self hypnosis. My mother cured her own depression, simply by admitting the fact that she could. She didn't have to suffer anymore. There is too much crazy shit that members of my species can do for me to believe that I can't be cured.

So, my next step is a strict regiment of energy work and deep massage. It's the only thing left that I can think of. I also just found a book that I'm going to buy called Heal Pelvic Pain, by Amy Stein. It deals with stretching, strengthening, diet, etc. But mostly, it's the energy work I'm going for now. I can feel that there are blockages, I know that I'm oppressed by my own negativity. The accumulation of frustration, rage, betrayal, and defeat that I've felt over the years has left its mark, even as I venture on. It's made my steps drag. I have to get it out of the way before I can truly move on.

At the same time, I'm a big believer in patterns, and in pieces coming together. An old mentor of mine talked about incubating dreams, asking questions that you call on your dreams to answer, in order to help figure out waking life. It's an idea that I've used successfully, and which I had forgotten about. In the midst of finding an energy healer, a friend reminded me of the dream incubation process. She talked about having dreams for years that were suddenly explained by the acquisition of new knowledge. And it occurred to me:

There's something left undone here. There's something that has to happen before I can move on from this: I need to know something, or I need to teach something, or I need to more deeply understand some part of myself, or of sex. There's a reason I'm still suffering, and it may be I'm missing something. So, to make an old turn of phrase more exciting, I'm sleeping on it. Every night I tell my subconscious that I'll dream an answer to this question, and during the day I think about it. I record my dreams. Something will surface.

Meanwhile, I found an expert who can help me figure out what my psyche's got to do with all this. I've seen so much evidence for the interconnectedness of mind and body. I used energy healing to help post-surgery (for TMJ), and it did wonders. I've seen it cure restless leg syndrome. I know it's not a coincidence that many oncological nurses become energy healers. I know that, when I'm feeling worse about sex, sex feels worse. There's a pattern that needs to change, and for that to happen, I need to recognize it. After years of being failed by doctors, I'm learning that maybe this is something I can only help myself with.

Chronic sexual pain is a lonely journey. The path is rugged, and not many travel it. Often, those that should instead choose to turn back, or take the easier rode of surgery and prescription pain meds. But I want my problem solved, gone, once and for all. Treating only my body hasn't worked. Treating only my mind hasn't worked. So now I'll try them together. Energy healing, or the "laying on of hands" is a system where the practitioner feels the energy given off by a patient's body and helps send it in the proper directions. I suggest looking up the systems of Reiki, Healing Touch Therapy, and Jin Shin Jyutsu. They're fascinating, and they work, if you let them. Because although my pain is real, and has physical origins, I believe that to a certain extent, anything we go through is all in our heads.

As such, I'll end my series with a quote from Susanna Kaysen's book, The Camera My Mother Gave Me. It's a memoir of her experiences with chronic sexual pain:

"Don't separate the mind from the body. Don't separate even character - you can't. Our unit of existence is a body, a physical, tangible, sensate entity with perceptions and reactions that express it and form it simultaneously. Disease is one of our languages. Doctors understand what disease has to say about itself. It's up to the person with the disease to understand what the disease has to say to her."

I will be cured. I just haven't figured out how.

Anna Rose

*If you have chronic pain during intercourse and you know you have no history of sexual violence, you may have a pain disorder, and you should see a doctor. Get opinions from several different kinds of doctors, especially non-conventional if possible.

To read the whole story, take a look at the whole "Thoughts from Anna Rose" series:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8


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