I say “probably,” because I have never received that actual diagnosis, and I don’t have any of the symptoms for it, except one.
Last night, I went to a very interesting performance presented by the American Dance Festival- Sara Juli’s show “Tense Vagina: an actual diagnosis-”
“a work about motherhood—its beauty, challenges, isolation, comedy, and influence on the human experience. This hour-long, evening-length solo uses humor, movement, sounds, songs, text, and audience participation to reveal “all that is awesome and all that sucks” when it comes to being a mother. Tense Vagina focuses on the seldom-discussed and taboo aspects of motherhood, such as loss of bladder control, tears, monotony, loneliness, and dildos.”
It was really eye opening to me. The first thought I had after seeing this show was that being a mother is a lot like tripping acid, neither of which I have ever done before, but hear me out… Since, I started dating, I have connected with two guys who both described the experience of tripping acid as this life-changing, perspective-changing experience, where they felt they understood life and the way the world works and how different things are connected and work together. Now, I know this sounds very trippy- that’s probably because it is, but I also had friends in college share similar anecdotes about their acid trip experiences. I am all about expanding my perspective, gaining new ones, and learning and doing new things. However, tripping acid has never been something I felt I needed to do for my life to be complete or for it to have meaning, neither is motherhood. I have said from a very young age, I never want to have kids, and have taken many precautions to insure this never happens accidentally.
I have also heard before from my own mother and probably other mothers that motherhood is one of the most meaningful, painful, and powerful life experiences one can have. A part of me always understood that by not having kids, I would miss out on a pretty big life experience, but after last night, I have some other perspectives. Watching the show last night, I was reminded and shown in a new way how not only is motherhood emotionally exhausting, but it is also physically exhausting- it is life-altering, perspective changing, mind expanding- once you have a child, your life will never ever be the same- I’m making no value judgment on this as to whether it will be better or worse, but it is a fact that your life will never be the same once you have kids- your body will never be the same once you have kids, your vagina will never be the same once you have kids, your schedule will never be the same once you have kids, your home will never be the same once you have kids- it’s life changing, mood altering, a new reality- much like what I have heard about tripping acid.
But the thing with motherhood is a part of me may feel like I am missing out big time if I never experience the joys, challenges, pains, and lessons of motherhood. I don’t think the growth, patience, energy, stamina, compassion, open-mindedness, and trust it takes to be a mother can be experienced and learned in any other way than by being a mother.
Acid, on the other hand, I don’t feel as strongly about. However, my not having tripped acid does not make me feel like I have missed out or am missing some huge life-altering experience I need to have and can gain in no other way than by tripping acid. It may be, and I have no way of knowing that, other than to trip acid, but I feel that I can learn about how the world works and how things fit, connect, and work together in lots of other ways and through lots of other life experiences- for example, solo travel, conversations with strangers, philosophy, psychology, meditation, thinking, writing, keeping an open mind, reflecting, and more.
So, what does any of this have to do with a tense vagina? Nothing, really. It was just a provocative headline to keep in line with all of my other blog posts… I’m just kidding… it has everything and nothing to do with a tense vagina. So, the one thing that made me say I probably have a tense vagina is the one thing that could probably make almost any woman say she has a tense vagina, and that is that, very often, I am very stressed and anxious. In Sara Juli’s performance, she mentions being at the Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation Center of New England and being given the “tense vagina” diagnosis, to which, she responded, “You mean, not only am I stressed and anxious, but now you’re telling me that my vagina has its own separate set of stress and tension?!?!!” Now, by this definition, men could probably even have tense vaginas, that is, if they had vaginas. The tense vagina diagnosis is not just tension in the vagina, it also includes urinary incontinence, muscle and tissue damage, among other physical symptoms that can be treated with physical therapy (massages, dildos, etc. ;-)- but actually! ).
Seeing all of the different changes a woman, her body, her mind, and her vagina go through during motherhood, which once you start, it seems never ends, was very mind expanding. I realized I could never experience those life experiences without becoming and being a mother.
I often think about how amazing the female body is, the human body actually- all of the things it is capable of are just astounding- healing, recovering, regulating, digesting, excreting, moving, lifting, its ability to feel such deep pain and overwhelming pleasure- I think about this when every month almost on the exact same date, I get my period- I think about even though painful and uncomfortable, how beautiful it is, that my body just does that, and I don’t have to do anything. I also think about how annoying it is to have a period every month and a healthy regular consistent one for women who know they never want to have kids- it feels like such an inconvenience. I also think about the feats of the human body when I go running- how amazing it is that some people can run 6 miles in the heat of summer and their bodies carry them to do this and sweat to help them regulate their body temperature. It feels amazing to me- that so much of what the body does just happens when so much of life feels like really hard work. Cue- motherhood- parts of it may just happen- like your water breaking or vagina dilating or contractions, but raising kids and doing kegels to help your tense vagina loosen up and become strong again are hard work.