I have found something interesting while working with vaginismus patients. Many of them are angry.
Most of them don’t seem angry when they first come in. They seem sad, hopeless, confused, and afraid. I most often have the urge to put my arms around them and say “It’ll be okay. I promise you.”
But oftentimes I find that as the treatment progresses, they get angry. And it can be hard for them and hard for us. Hard for them because they don’t understand how angry they are and why they feel so angry and hard for us because we are not always sure how to help them negotiate their anger.
Here are some things we’ve learned from our patients over the years. As you overcome the vaginismus, learning to control the muscle spasms and manage the pain, you start to let go of some of the fear and terror of the pain. However, as you start to accept that your body is normal, you might start feeling angry because:
- You can’t believe people are making you change. On some level facing this issue was a decision you made, but sometimes you might feel like, “Damn it! I was fine the way I was before. I don’t want to have to be like everyone else! I don’t want to change the way I am in order to have a relationship. I was fine, fine, fine and I don’t want to give up who I am!”
- You might feel scared that now you will be expected to do something you haven’t done before. For example, if you’ve been avoiding dating because of your vaginismus, you might now feel like suddenly your last excuse to yourself is gone and now what? Now you have to start dating. If you are in a relationship you might feel pressured to have intercourse now that you “can,” even though you may not feel ready.
- You might feel furious at yourself for waiting so long to get treatment, especially if it feels as though the treatment was less traumatic than you expected and less work.
- You might feel angry that treatment is taking so long and is so much work.
First of all, have some patience with yourself. Really. Changing your vagina is a big deal – it is going to involve some growing pains emotionally. Take some deep breaths. Again, you are not crazy. Try to get a handle on what is going on with you, and accept that the road might be a bit bumpy.
Then, here are some things to think about. Focus on the ones that resonate with you. Everyone is different and the things that bother (or help) one person might well not bother (or help) you. So think about which of these ideas might make you feel better:
- You don’t have to change one little thing about the rest of your life just because you can. Fixing the vaginismus does not mean you have to start dating, get into a relationship or start having intercourse. It means you CAN change those things if you want to. And if you do decide that those are things you want, you can make a decision, either by yourself or with the help of a therapist to change those things. But one is not necessarily a byproduct of the other and you are, in the end, the only one who really has control over those secondary changes.
- See if the anger is really turned inward and try to take the time to see what exactly you’re blaming yourself for. You didn’t ask for things to be this way and you couldn’t really control the outcome. Vaginismus is not something we “make happen to our bodies” or that we are responsible for creating. It’s not our fault.
- If you’re angry at how long it took for you to seek help, yes, maybe you could have gone for help sooner but let’s be honest, finding help for this kind of problem is complicated and scary. It’s not so straightforward. As much as possible you should give yourself credit for having gotten help now. So if you’re blaming yourself for having waited this long, letting the problem overtake your life or ignoring it, realize that’s a fairly normal response and try to appreciate where you are now rather than what’s behind you.
- Try to share your fears, concerns and anger with your health practitioner. We can handle it. And it’s much, much easier for us to help you if you’re honest with how you’re feeling, even if what you’re feeling is anger at how long the whole damn process is taking!
So if you are someone who is working your way through vaginismus treatment… it’s okay to be angry. Really. And realize that the anger will pass and it’s just one more step along the process of healing.