Sat 29 Jul 2006
I am a 57 year old, white, Canadian, Anglo-Saxon woman of Irish/English decent, non-religious but deeply spiritual. My story is still in the rough stages. It has only been a matter of weeks since I became aware that I am missing a couple of genital “pieces”. The new awareness has certainly answered many questions for me, and explained a lot about who I am. I was flipping through a book when I came across a picture of two fingers holding onto a clitoris. Impossible! They were describing the head of the clitoris as a wee button. No way! I got out a mirror and studied myself ever so carefully. I have done self explorations before, and pictures in books never looked like me. My conclusion was always that there was something wrong with the pictures! Not this time. I got onto the web, and studied as many pictures as I could find. I couldn’t find one that looked like me. I called my youngest sister. She was adamant that there was a tangible something in the clitoral region, known as the clitoris. You could touch it. It felt good to touch. Interesting. I called a childhood friend with whom I still talk regularly. She agreed with my sister. I called my other sister—two years younger. She would have nothing to do with any self-exploration, she wasn’t interested, sex had always been painful, could we change the subject, please. I have reason to believe she too endured a “cut.”
Anyway, further research on the net turned up a procedure called a clitoridectomy. From my research I determined that this procedure was quite common in the 1800’s, less common in the early 1900’s, yet still being conducted in North America into the mid-fifties, was covered by Blue Cross until mid ’70’s, and not completely banned in the U.S. until 1996. Although the tone of this paragraph sounds all whitewashed and devoid of emotion, my whole being was coming apart as I dredged up this data.
I was beginning to open the door to a truth which I had somehow managed to bury just under the surface of my consciousness. Flashbacks began. I remembered, as a child of 3 or 4, having “something” I could hold on to down there. Being of insatiable curiosity, I questioned my mother about it—as I did for just about everything that entered my line of vision. She was a staunch Roman Catholic of the extreme variety, hung up on sex and particularly masturbation. Somehow she managed to turn my question around to understand that somehow I was upset, disturbed and did not want this thing I was giving my attention to. She could make me “nice and pretty” and in this manner she solicited my agreement. I recall nothing of the actual procedure, but I have had flashbacks of events after the procedure. I recall sitting on the toilet seat and my mother tending the area, and telling me I was “nice and pretty” now. The “tending” happened over numerous occasions.
At the point I was having the above flashbacks, there was still a place in me which wanted to believe I was making all of this up. However, I had another friend who I had shared my concerns with. She had been sexually abused, and as part of her healing process, she had attended a women’s workshop, where they did shared self-exploration as part of getting to know and love their bodies. So she had seen many clitoris’s and felt that perhaps mine was simply small enough that somehow I just couldn’t find it. We arranged a show and tell. She couldn’t find it either! It seems that the “head” of the clitoris is missing. The rest is still in place. She noticed something else. Part of the clitoral hood was missing! There is no scar tissue, no discolouration …nice and pretty!
That same night, as I was in the place between waking and sleeping, I experienced the most intense pain in the genital area. I could actually feel the places …which are not there! Because this experience was not a fleeting thing, taking nearly a half hour to subside, it left no question that my suspicions were true. I had yet another flashback about trying to tell my mother how much it hurt, and how it hurt to pee. It hurt for the longest time. I remembered confusion, connected to pain, connected to my mother. My mother always used corporal punishment to discipline us and she began her disciplining as soon as we could crawl. I associated pain and my mother with being a bad girl. I believe I spent the rest of her life trying desperately to please her, so that I would never endure this pain again. Then I married her clone and spent 31 years of marriage following the same pattern. Now that the pain has resurfaced, it feels like it has always been there. Anytime I want to direct my attention to that area I can feel the places …which are not there! When I am very tired the pain returns like a nagging headache. I am amazed at the degree of denial I had to exert in order to block the pain and the memory.
Something I do remember vividly is that when I reached puberty, my mother took me to the doctor without any notice or explanation where I was subjected to a visual genital exam. There I was at 12 or 13 years of age, on the examining table, fully displayed for the doctor and my mother. who were at the end of the table, discussing and pointing at my genitals. This was so totally unexpected, I was so embarrassed and humiliated, that all I could hear of their conversation was Charlie Brown’s Blah! Blah! Blah! As we were leaving the doctor’s office I asked her why I had the examination, and she told me it was “none of my business!” I can only conclude that for whatever reason related to puberty there was a need to check up on their handiwork.
I have always been a deep thinker with an insatiable curiosity. So I have noticed a number of things about myself which I could attribute to this early childhood trauma. For instance, I have always noticed myself not being fully present in the moment. Whenever the going gets rough, I get going, right into some sort of comatose-like, dissociative state where I am not fully present, not fully alive. Could this be a learned behaviour from a childhood trauma?
Although I am 57 years old, there is a little girl in me who has never grown up, who is “unsure” of herself, who is easily frightened, who second guesses absolutely everything I do and say. I have done enough personal growth work that I can actually “feel” her. She is ever longing for parental love and approval. So sensitive, always needing reassurance. Years ago, a mentor once said to me how she gave me credit for all my accomplishments, but was very aware of a part of me which was still so childlike. She asked if I could explain it. I knew what she was talking about, but pretended I didn’t because I couldn’t explain it and was embarrassed by it. Can I explain it now? Is it arrested development as a result of childhood trauma? Will I be able to get a handle on it now? It has definitely stood between me and fully coming into my own as an adult.
And sexually speaking? Sometimes one will never know, what one never knew. I wasn’t a tomboy, but I didn’t go through the girly-girly phase either. I had no longing to dress up, make up and strut my stuff. I didn’t understand flirting. I didn’t understand the chemistry thing that happens between teens when their hormones are raging. My ex-husband picked me out of a group of girls I was with, and decided that very night that I would be his wife. I was flattered beyond words that some guy would actually pin point me in this way. I was 21, and there had only been one casual boyfriend in my entire young life. I was in love with love, and we were married a year later. In my limited opinion, he was a highly sexual man. The little girl in me wanted to be everything he wanted me to be. Perhaps that is where the real problem was! Psychologically perhaps, I just never grew up enough to be a sexually mature woman. Like I said, perhaps I will never know, what I never knew.