I sent the email to my doctor. And she wrote back.
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 have a history of trauma, and a diagnosis of PTSD. 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. Having a male doctor present and performing part of the exam really triggered me. 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, and that is going to make it very hard to walk back into your office.
I know I need to come back in, and finish the exam. I feel very apprehensive about that. I don’t want to put myself in another situation where I’m triggered and scared. I also don’t want to put myself in a situation where I need to be able to come to the doctor and feel like I can’t. I’m working through what happened with my therapist, and I will schedule something as soon as I feel okay about it again.
I wasn’t aware of your trauma history, or how difficult pelvic exams can be. Thank you for sharing this with me. I’ll keep this out of your file for the moment, although we may want to discuss adding some information so that these situations can be avoided in the future. I’m sorry you were triggered and felt so scared. I don’t think differently of you, and would like to have you come back in so we can talk about how to best proceed with any medical exams/treatments.
Ugh. This feels awful. All I can think is she knows, she is having all these terrible thoughts about me, I can’t face her ever again, why did I send that email, ugh, ugh, ugh. I don’t want to talk to her, she wants to talk, I’m not talking. I can’t do this. I don’t like her reply. I don’t know why. Maybe I wouldn’t have liked any reply. I can’t even think to send an email back. Ugh, ugh, ugh. I’m so angry that I sent this, I don’t even know. I just. Ugh. I wanted this to be done with, I didn’t want to keep talking about it, I don’t even know. Nothing felt okay. It seemed just…ugh. I don’t know. Yesterday, I don’t know what I needed. I felt like everything was off, and I was just not okay. So alone and wrong and sad and I didn’t want to keep talking about feeling like that, and I didn’t want to hear about how it was maybe just a pattern or whatever, because that felt terrible, and like it didn’t matter or wasn’t “real” or I don’t know what. So I said lets talk abut the letter. But then I was just annoyed and didn’t want to talk about it, or hear that I needed to do something, and I didn’t want to think about it, or why it was really a big deal, and I was just frustrated and annoyed and almost mad at you and that wasn’t feeling okay, and I didn’t know what was wrong with me or why I was so upset with you, and I wanted to be done with it. So I said ‘if I say I’ll send the email can we be done with this?’ I knew it was this very teenage response, and part of me was trying so hard to just have the conversation and be okay and behave like a grown up and talk through it and send the email and be fine, but I just couldn’t keep talking about it, so I guess I just shut down the conversation as quickly as I could. It hurts too much to think.
And now it doesn’t even matter because I sent the stupid email when I got home yesterday, still feeling irritated, and not really thinking it, just sending it in a fit of frustration and annoyance. And then after I sent it, I freaked out and wished there was a way to unsend it. And then I wanted to email you but I couldn’t because I was still annoyed. I don’t know. I just want someone to be mad at for what, I’m not sure. To blame, to be angry at for me freaking out, for me needing to tell someone else the secret, for someone now knowing and judging, for even having a secret to tell to begin with, mad because you believed her secret. I don’t know. I don’t know what is wrong with me, why I’m having this ridiculously big reaction and feelings over this. None of this feels right or okay. And I feel like this giant whiny drama queen over this, and that just makes it harder to try to talk about. I’m stuck in my head, and I feel alone and like no one understands. It’s like this crazy mix of teenager and little girl running the ship. Angry defiant teenager, but scared of being judged and thought of as a drama queen, scared of being told her feelings don’t matter, or that they aren’t real, or something. Little girl who is afraid of everyone leaving, of hurting people, of not being perfect enough, who just wants to hide, and wants someone to fix it all and make it better. I don’t know. None of this is rational.
My first reaction was to want to “fix” this by talking to the doctor, and if that is something you would like me to do I would gladly do it, but I don’t think it’s probably the best option. I’m still viewing this whole situation as an opportunity for growth and empowerment for you, difficult as it might be.
I don’t think you would have liked any reply except maybe, “it’s okay, I’m waving a magic wand and you will never need to go to the doctor again.” I think, objectively, that it was good reply and you can work with it to express what you need next. If you want, we can talk about that on Monday.
Your reactions make sense to me, of course. And if it helps to be mad or to blame me please feel free to do so. I am okay with that–I was pushing for this after all!
I have somebody coming in a minute, but in terms of the patterned emotions, what I think we want is just to be able identify them as such. Of course they still feel just as bad and are just as “real.” Just not genuine, healing expressions of emotion–which, when you think about it, are probably pretty rare in comparison. I don’t think you have to worry about any of that right now. Just engage in self care and self soothing if you’re still feeling yucky. This doctor thing will pass…..