Fearing the Authority

I find myself struggling between two psychosis; on the one hand, I am an admited hypochondriac in some ways. I freak out about certain changes to my body because I am afraid of losing control of it. My akathisia caused me nothing short of panic. My lethargy made me afraid that I was losing some highly metaphorical but vital essence of myself. So I fear things going wrong with my body. I want to be able to seek medical care. I want to be reassured and cared for. I want to have a medical professional aware of where I’m at and watching my body/file for scary changes, especially as I get older and things like cervical cancer and mammograms become more of a concern.

But on the other side, I fear doctors. I fear dentists. I fear the gyno, even though she’s a lovely old white hair woman with purple gloves and the stirrups have blue fuzzy covers.  I fear these people because they take my control away. I fear them because I am under their power, and they have the ability to force me into something. And I fear them because as a child, someone forced me to show them my body and told me that it was for my sexual health.

I have terrible dental hygeine. It’s one of the things I almost never talk to anyone about because it’s so embarrassing. My parents didn’t have dental insurance for most of my childhood, so I was constantly being nagged and told to be ashamed of how I took care of my teeth. As I grew older and went for years without an appointment, that fingerwagging shame dovetailed with the way the Monster told me I should be ashamed of touching myself, and every time one of those dental hygenists opens her mouth, I want to cram my fucking fist in it.

Eventually I will have insurance, and eventually I will find a dentist that I can talk to and that will obey my wishes because I’ll have enough money to throw at them. Eventually I’ll find a dentist that will agree to let me roll on my side now and then, and knock me out for anything that involves serious drilling or cracking, and just get as much done while I’m unconscious as possible. But until that day it’s just far too expensive and stressful for me to fight for it. And for now, I have to live with the possibility that in ten years I won’t have teeth.

Every year, in order to continue to get my birth control, I have to go to the doctor and get an annual exam. A very sweet woman with purple gloves sticks her fingers in my vagina and pushes around to make sure I’m all right inside. When I was 22, I went to the doctor because I kept bleeding during sex; not just a little blood around my period, but bright red gushes of blood during sex as though I were actively bleeding. The very nice woman looked into my vagina like some magical telescope of history, and explained that it was because of my vaginal scaring, and that I should be more careful or specifically disclude sex with men of a certain girth. At the time, it wasn’t really an option because I was in a relationship with a man that pushed me into sex on a routine basis and would instantly play the, “But that means you don’t love me” card if I refused.

Since, I’ve gotten more accustomed to my body’s needs, and it hasn’t been an issue in years. This is a good thing and all. But it still makes me incredibly uncomfortable that someone had to take a metal tool and pry open my body to see what was wrong with me. It still made me sit there and try not to cry as this incredibly well intentioned woman stared at my sex, like he did years ago.

It’s been said that victims of childhood sexual abuse are less likely to seek treatment for medical issues. In my opinion, that’s for many reasons.

We don’t want to go to the dentist because we’re lying on our backs, vulnerable, pinned to the chair by metal in our fucking faces. There’s viscous liquid sliding around in our mouths, usually tasting nasty and making us choke. Those fucking dental hygenists make us feel ashamed and small and helpless with their heckling and their lack of understanding.

We don’t want to go to the gyno or the proctologist or any doctor that deals with our pelvises because gods damnit, that’s my fucking body and no one can violate it now. I’m basically forced by the conventions of society and the fact that I can’t stick a set of metal duck lips up my own vagina to let some other woman (or gods forbid, a man) peer at my body in one of the most exposed and vulnerable ways imaginable. If I could take my pelvis off and put it on a table, I would totally do my own pelvic exams. Hell, I’d probably fuck myself too, but that’s just for the benefit of not having to deal with someone else’s expectations about sex.

We don’t want to go to our general practicioners because we are placing our lives and our sexual health and our psychological health in the hands of someone with immense power over us. If I go to a doctor and she or he disregards my concerns or lectures me on my behavior, what they say or do will affect me more severely than some asshole on the street. Society has made doctors our superiors. They have more weight to throw around and hurt us with. If I go into their office and they force their penis or fingers inside me, there is a fair chance that if I try to say they did, I won’t be believed.

When I was sixteen, I worked in a nursing home in the high school CNA program. There was a patient there who I’ll just call M. for the sake of confidentiality, though at this point, she’s been dead for over ten years. I still take that confidentiality seriously. M had serious disability; she was unable to sit up completely, had almost no function in her arms or legs, and was paralyzed on one side of her face. We had to do essentially everything for her. She was mostly catatonic, and rarely responded to anyone. She was one of the hardest clients we had compared to the men and women who could sit up, roll over, or even better, wash themselves and dress themselves.

One day when I was alone in the room with M, I had to wash her privates, and she began to cry. I could hardly hear what she was saying. So I leaned closer and she said, “Please don’t hurt me there again, Joey.” I dropped the washcloth and cried in a corner for almost half an hour, totally paralyzed, she and I in similar states of catatonia in her room. Finally I picked up the wash cloth again and I smoothed her hair and said, “M, I need to wash you so you don’t get sick, is that okay?” She looked at me with her watery glaucoma eyes, and eventually, she nodded.

For the rest of the time I worked there, I wouldn’t wash her or change her diaper without getting her to nod to me first, and I wrote a formal letter to her floor head demanding that everyone else do the same. I had my brush with what it was like to be a heartless and rushed caretaker, and I know what it’s like to be on the other side. I have hopes that once I have insurance, I’ll be able to find people that will be compassionate and care for me on my terms.

Maybe some day I’ll write a book about caring for an adult survivor of sexual abuse. I’m starting to see how necessary it might be.


~ by oniongirl13 on June 22, 2009.

One Response to “Fearing the Authority”

  1. You go oniongirl. I hear you on the medical and dental care. I avoid both a lot for the same reasons. I wrote about almost the same thing on my blog several posts ago. I’m working up the courage to talk to my local health unit about offering a pap clinic for survivors. Not sure if I’ll get there, but I might if the Goddess clears the way a bit.
    Blessings to you.

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