Woooooooooo doggy. I am not even going to waste your time pontificating on the sad state of affairs that is happening all around us at all times. You know it, I know it, we don’t have to obsess over it.
Next week this column will not be around, since I am going to be in Washington D.C. for the 50th AWP conference. Will you be there, too? Are you filled with anxiety? Come see me over at the Zoetic Press booth (#969, near the concessions!) and we can chat it up and, if you rule, we can go to the Exorcist staircase together.
Q: I am almost 35. My last boyfriend was when I was 16. The last date I went on was my junior prom. The last kiss I had was when I was 19. I have a sexual history but it’s just really sad and I am still a “virgin” in the traditional sense of the word.
I’m in therapy, discovering that I have basically hated myself my whole life because I hold myself to these fucking ridiculous standards that paralyze me where I feel they should motivate me to be less of a chubby awkward fuck up.
I take my job way too seriously, when the only job I’ve EVER wanted was wife and mother. Sure, I wanted my own career or intellectual pursuit, and I thought the right way to go about life was to get that degree/career first, and THEN I would be worthy of motherhood and real love and a fun life. Plus, I’m overweight and not that cute. I need to be smart and successful to make up for my physical shortcomings, right?
In addition to these issues, I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), which makes me hold on to weight, produce more testosterone, have fucked up periods, acne; basically perpetual puberty. My ovaries are in overdrive, just producing egg cysts constantly. This threatens my fertility and ability to even maybe have children. But I have to stay on birth control unless I want diabetes, endometriosis, uterine, cervical cancer. And I smoke, so my Obgyn wants to take away my precious synthetic estrogen when I turn 35 because it might give me a blood clot or breast cancer… Early menopause may be in my future if that happens. Ovarian failure. Barren. These are the things that scare me. Who am I kidding, all of life scares me.
I have never felt good enough for the life I was granted. I didn’t graduate when I was supposed to, I didn’t move out when I was supposed to, I don’t have a boyfriend like I’m supposed to. I don’t have a baby like I’m supposed to. There are some in my family who have even suggested that I just need a one night stand that impregnates me and everything will fall into place, emotionally and hormonally.
How do I come back from this? How do I say “fuck you, trauma,” and find love and (at least try to) have children? I did the things I was supposed to- I told a loved one I wanted to die, I asked my doctor for help, I saw the therapist (a lot), I’m on the meds, I talked to the psych NP, I’m open with my family because secrets keep us sick, I see my family more now. I know I’m an adult child of a fucking alcoholic now (it really was a revelation to me in therapy). I know my family loves me, but I don’t understand why, after all the disappointments, all the things I failed to follow through on.
A: Wow, this is a heavy submission. Thank you so much for entrusting me with it.
What strikes me— and this is not just you, this is pretty much everyone— is this inability to accept that life isn’t a thing that should follow a specific path. It took me a long time to realize this; I have always said my brother “did things the right way” (high school > college> marriage> house> kids) whereas I got married in college, had a baby, was all over the map for years… just a mess, really. I want you to know that there is no real “right” path for any of us; we live our lives and make our decisions the best that we can. Comparison to others leads to nothing but additional suffering.
The milestones of your dating and sexual history are not important. The more you obsess over them, the more they control you, keep you in a box. I have long believed virginity to be more of a “social construct” than anything else (you can read more about that idea here). Of course, I can’t fault you for feeling the way you feel about your relationship status, especially if what you want most is a family. And while I have nothing but empathy for people who want desperately to have children and cannot, for whatever reason, and I do agree that you don’t necessarily need a partner to have a child, I would advise against that course of action, at least until you’re in a more stable state emotionally. I think it is great that you’re in therapy and making important breakthroughs in your life, and I will encourage you to keep at that. I think, in this world, we all could use therapy.
Love isn’t something you find; it finds you. But, as RuPaul says, If you don’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else? It seems silly, but it’s true: it is impossible to truly love someone, partner or child, until you are at peace with yourself, your diagnoses, and your life choices. You have to learn to let life come to you, not chase after it and try to force it to work. And you have to learn to be more gentle and forgiving of yourself. You are doing the best you can, and that is enough.
Only your doctor can give you advice regarding your PCOS issues, but I do suggest trying to ditch the cigarettes. They are nothing but trouble, and your health depends on it. And I know it sounds cliché, but if you make healthy decisions, it can ease your depression tenfold. I walk every day for at least a mile, and I am only 65% depressed at this point in my life! (Seriously, though, even if diet and exercise won’t help with the PCOS, it will help you in a lot of other ways.)
I wish you the best and truly hope that you can find what you are looking for, which is ultimately happiness.
I publish all questions with a veil of anonymity. I would never want to expose someone, especially if their question is a sensitive one, such as domestic violence, sexuality, and the like. Therefore, I may edit questions down if I feel they are too specific, but please keep in mind that I am considering the whole picture when responding to you.
The advice given is for informational purposes only and is not meant to replace the legal, financial, medical, or professional advice of trained specialists.