Enlightenment never revealed itself to me when I was nice.
I used to be nice.
Now I am well on my way to being a hollowed out shell of a woman. I am preparing a funeral for my ovaries. After they scrape any remaining life from them, they will take them from me. I am surprisingly not fighting for them. Not anymore, at least. The endometriosis can have them. It is a small sacrifice to make to have my life and my body back. Even if it isn’t the same body that I had before.
I have earned my bitch license.
I lovingly refer to myself as (insert some descriptive adjective or noun) followed by bitch (for power and emphasis). For example, I am an endo-bitch, I am a dancer-bitch, I am a feminist-bitch and an infertile-bitch; I am a writer-bitch and I am an artist-bitch. I am originally from the south, and the south (however unfortunately) taught me how to be painfully polite, ever positive and socially graceful. This hospitality, if I had stayed in the south, would have been the end of me, and my pretty face would have never seen anything else in the mirror other than great cheekbones and perfect lips. Yes, I am pretty. But, pretty now and pretty then have two completely contradictory definitions.
Beauty now looks like three scars on my belly. Beauty now looks like tear stains. Beauty now looks like percocet. Beauty now looks like a fight with my partner. Beauty now looks like piles of medical bills. Beauty now looks like singing badly to the radio. Beauty now looks like frozen embryos. Beauty now looks like a slow walk in the park. Beauty now looks like my doctor being honest with me. Beauty has nothing to do with being a good host, baking for company, smiling when I don’t feel like it or politely accepting unacceptable circumstances.
Endometriosis taught me how to be a bitch. Chronic pain will turn any seemingly lovely woman into a bitch from hell. Endometriosis creates a new normal. Endometriosis, a reproductive and immunological disease in which the uterine cells (endometrium) migrate and imbed outside of the uterus in the abdominal cavity, entirely disrupts happy lives. The woman that experiences this has a new normal waiting for her including daily chronic pain, killer periods, hormone therapies that induce menopause and hot flashes, unbearable sex, excruciating bowel movements, debilitating fatigue and let’s not forget infertility.
Did I mention that I earned my bitch license? (Pause to let hot flash pass.)
It is not often possible to thank the disease you are experiencing as you are experiencing it. Most of the time, hindsight is the clearest vantage point for these types of deep understanding. I am not sure why or how, but I can already see the dawn, even from inside the dark nightmare. Here are a few things I can thank endo for teaching me:
Endo has taught me that enlightenment is bullshit. It is an unattainable goal that some pretend to have already attained, but they likely have no battle scars that show evidence of the journey. I will still be learning who I am on my deathbed. But for today, a deep breath and a short walk in the sunshine are all my (once vibrant) body is capable of and that pisses me off. And I give myself the space and permission to be really pissed off and grieve the loss of my old self. I am thankful for the tiny glimpses of my previous pain-free life. Perhaps tomorrow I will meditate for 4 hours, reread A New Earth and change someone else’s tire. Doubtful.
Endo has taught me that my life is valuable with or without becoming a mother. I am brave enough to envision a life in which the equally great thing that I do is not raising another human being. It is only when your options to procreate are limited or non-existent that one considers whether he or she really wants to be a parent. If it is easy, you just do it. Because everyone’s doing it. My partner and I are very carefully considering names for our frozen embryos. We don’t want to be parents now, but maybe in 10 or 15 years I might be willing and capable of putting myself second. Today, my life’s worth is wrapped up in writing an honest documentation of my personal experiences for you, hugging my animals oh so tightly and kissing my partner when he comes home. That’s enough for today. Maybe tomorrow I will tackle the beast of neglectful parenting that plagues this world by becoming the best mom in the world and posting endless pictures of my baby on Facebook. Doubtful.
Endo has taught me to say the things that other women are afraid to say out loud. There is an entire population of endo-bitches (and infertile-bitches too!) that need to hear that it is OK to resent pregnant women, it is OK to be angry that your body has betrayed you, it is OK to take a pain day off and sit on the couch watching Bridget Jones, it is OK to not have coffee with that annoying, overly sunshiney friend, it is OK to take a Percocet once in a while to shut off the raging emotions, it is OK to not have sex when it hurts, it is OK to mourn the loss of your old self. Maybe tomorrow I will graciously accept an invitation to your baby shower. Doubtful.
Today, instead of trying to fit into a carved-out mold of a perfectly enlightened person (because let’s face it, it’s trendy to be enlightened these days), consider accepting yourself in whatever un-enlightened state you may find yourself.
My beauty is unfiltered, unapologetic, brutal honesty. My new beauty is so f**k**g ugly.
Editor: Cassie Smith
I am a dancer, an artist, a partner, an endometriosis sister, and a b*tch. While proudly flying my bitch flag, I address topics like chronic illness (endo sucks balls!), arts activism (get off your ass!), and feminism (vaginas should rule the world!). For a provocative documentation of my experiences (never discount the power of the word f**k!) visit my blog, BeCaME. For scientifically-based facts and info about endo, visit the Endometriosis Research Center. I don’t give a shit about being nice. So, love me or hate me, just don’t be indifferent.
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