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.