I tried to write a letter……..

On Monday, Bea and I talked more about the awful appointment with my doctor. I don’t really remember the conversation, but it was about writing a letter to my doctor so I would still be able to go there, and about accepting that I am a survivor of sexual abuse, that telling my doctor about this is breaking the secret. She told me she doesn’t really take a pushy stance with me (which is funny, because at times, in a triggered state, I have thought of her as pushy— but she really truly isn’t), but that she did feel writing a letter, acknowledging what happened with my doctor is important. So, I tried. I tried, and I tried. But it’s just impossible. If I write the truth, it feels like I’m telling her too much. If I write some generic “I was triggered due to past trauma and am now embarrassed by how I reacted and am finding it difficult to make an appointment to come back”, I feel like I’m not really explaining and that it’s this kind of cop-out explanation. I don’t know. 

When I finally sat down to write whatever came out, and tell her the whole truth, I got 3 paragraphs in before I became triggered and started writing to Bea. This is the letter I have for my doctor, so far. I don’t think I can send it, it’s too much information. But what came out after these paragraphs was a lot of shame, and wanting it to not be true, and being afraid of telling the secret. Ugh. 

Dear Doctor S, 

Thank you for calling to check on me. I’m sorry I didn’t pick up the phone, or return your calls, I just wasn’t ready to talk about what happened last week. I’m really embarrassed over my reaction and behavior during the exam. I’d like to explain what happened and why I reacted in the way I did. I would prefer if we can keep this between us; this isn’t information I want in my medical history. 

I was sexually abused by a family friend for a good portion of my childhood. Pelvic exams are always hard for me, but I’ve always been quite good at holding things together, at sort of dissociating away my uncomfortable feelings, and not letting anyone know I’m less than okay. Last week, however, was different. I wasn’t aware that the student you had with you was male, until the two of you walked into the exam room. By then, it felt like it was too late to say anything, and I really thought I could just get through it, like I always do. When you asked if he could perform part of the exam— and it is good that you asked– I couldn’t say no, because I was afraid of making him feel bad, or appearing to be mean. I was already triggered, at that point, but I still really thought I could hold it together. 

When he touched me, that just sent me back to that very scary trauma place. It was too big of a trigger for me to dissociate away, and I fell apart. I’m glad you asked him to leave, and I’m glad you covered me up. I feel so embarrassed for how I reacted. I hate that all I could do was cry, and feel frozen. I know you were trying to talk to me, ask me questions and I hate that I couldn’t answer them. I wasn’t really in the present then, I was back in a place and time where I wasn’t safe, and bad things happened.

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12 thoughts on “I tried to write a letter……..

  1. It’s your choice how much you tell her. You can leave it short and simple and pretty much end at “I was sexually abused for most of my childhood by a family friend.” I’m pretty sure that she can understand from that why the situation was too much.

    If it helps you to tell her more, then I’m sure that it would be good from her point of view to more fully understand what happened. But you don’t need to explain yourself as an apology.

    Having an uncontrolled trauma reaction in front of people who haven’t seen that side before is embarrassing, because it is so vulnerable feeling to have the disguises torn away. The time it happened to me, I felt almost naked (and it wasn’t a Gyn situation, so I still had all of my clothes on). Actually, I think that it was most about showing a child part in the middle of a trauma reaction.

    The thing is that you didn’t do anything wrong. You tried to handle the situation as best you could, but you were caught between trying to take care of yourself and trying to be a “good girl” and make everyone else happy. It’s new for you to make taking care of yourself a priority, so it’s no wonder that you’re a bit clumsy at it at first. You just need more practice.

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    • Thank you. It is really embarrassing. I think you are right that it’s more about showing the little girl part than just having a reaction. It’s sort of like, how will they ever see me as a competent adult after this? I wasn’t able to put that into words until now, your reply helped. And I think that’s why I feel the need to explain. Because I don’t want people to lose respect for me.

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  2. Wow, that must have been so hard to write. It sounds a bit like might be approaching the letter from the point of view of what explanation you “owe” her for your reaction. To me (and probably Bea) it’s about what information she needs to know so that she can take care of you better in the future and you can feel safer going back. You should feel free to share as much as you feel comfortable sharing, but you absolutely are not required to “justify” yourself by giving details you’re not okay with telling her.

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      • Especially with a woman GYN. If your doctor was a man, it wouldn’t make any difference. But many women choose a woman because they don’t care to have a man checking out their private parts.
        If you want to write the doc but don’t care to get too personal and still be completely truthful, just thank her for following up. And explain the receptionist did not point out a male would be doing the exam. That made you highly uncomfortable but since you had already consented, you went ahead it. And doing so added to your discomfort immeasurably. I’d put the weight of the error where it belongs…on them. Then the next woman won’t go through the same things because they’ll fix the error and tell people right at the desk.

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  3. A very vulnerable and honest letter, I bet it was hard to write. It would be hard for me to write something like that. I’m glad you are processing the experience, it was really unfortunate and I’m sure so painful. It deserves this time and recognition. xx

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    • Thanks for saying this deserves time. I keep feeling like I’m making a big deal out of a small deal. It was hard to write. I still haven’t finished it. I need to soon, or it’s going to feel like it’s too late. 😕

      Liked by 1 person

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