Finally a light at the end of the tunnel
May 3, 2013 at 5:34 am #8903
So after eleven year of feeling alone, scared, and uncertain Im finally ready to face this head on. Ive gone back and forth over the years of going ahead and making this happened. Picking up the phone to call Dr. Pacik was so incredible hard but once I did it I feel a huge weight lifted off of me. All of you are right he is amazing 🙂
So a little bit about my story. It started back when I was 15 and was raped. It went from awful to worse when he couldnt penetrate. He started screaming at me calling me every awful name imaginable then pulled out a pocket knife. Threatening me I truly thought I was going to die. He ended up cutting my arm and then it was done.
I kept it silent and in the dark for a long time. I knew something was wrong with me but I didnt know what. It cause me to go further into selcusion. I train horses for a living and have been riding since I was 8. The easiest thing for me to do at the time was to devote my life to training and competing instead of a life of friends and romance. I was about 20 when I was watching tv late one night and came across a Tyra Bank’s talk show and it had women on there like me!!! I finally felt that I wasnt such a freak of nature and there was an actual name for it.
That was back in 2007. I did more research over the years and that is when I found Dr. Pacik. Another sense of relief that there was actually a great success rate and hope for my future. I got up the courage in 2010 to contact him but my courage did not last long. It was so much easier to not deal with this entire part of my life. I continued to push away any guy that showed interest, secluded myself away from friends, and just worked with the horses (they never asked questions or judge). About a month ago I met a guy that I finally felt I could trust and that made me want to face this head on. Telling him was probably one of the hardest things I have done but he was absolutely incredible about everything. These past couple of weeks havee been an emotional roller coaster but at the sametime I feel this huge weight that I have been carrying for so long slowly being lifted.
I guess my biggest worry is my boyfriend. He has been so understanding and incredibly supportive but I have a hard time thinking about how much to involve him through this journey. This relationship is so new. Im not sure what Im comfortable with or what he will be comfortable with. I have told him that I was raped and that I have vaginismus which basically means my body wont allow me to have sex. I didnt tell him how my body actuallly reacts or what the treatment is except that I will have travel up to NH. I know he has done research on his own to try and understand a little which to me is good and bad. There are so many hopeless stories and different paths for treatment I want him to have the right knowledge. I feel so uncomfortable and embarassed to discuss what the treatment will actually entail. I guess Im looking for advice on how to handle this.
My next worry is if I should ask him to come with me. I know I do not want him in the surgery room and before speaking with Dr. Pacik the thought of him coming with me was unimaginable. Now after have a day to think it over I just dont know. To have him come not to come? If he comes what to involve him with and what not to…… My head starts spinning with trying to figure this all out. Not only do I not really know what I want but I don’t want him to be uncomfortable and feel that he has to come even though he doesnt feel comfortable with it. Has anyone delt with a similar situation??? Any advice would be extremely appreciated. I know Dr. Pacik wants to discuss the pros and cons but I have such a hard time making decisioins like this so need all the thoughts that I can get.
Reading all of your stories makes me feel so much more at ease. Like Im not alone and there are people out there that know where Im coming from. Friends (although do not know) have always given me a really hard time and have lost many due to not going out with them, having relationships, and just being a normal 26 year old. Infact many of them have been making jokes stating that they cant believe I havent found something wrong with this guy (if I start seeing a guy I usually end it with in a week or two) . I know they mean well but in the back of my head Im just thinking if you only knew….. Once again thank you guys for sharing your stories. I never thought they would help as much as they have!
Hope everyone is having a great week!!!!!May 5, 2013 at 1:41 pm #11449
I would love to talk more in depth with you about this and I wonder if maybe you would contact Peter and ask for my email address. My Name is Rachel and he will know who I am! Just say…she is the one that sang about having vaginismus!
I feel your dilemma..However, from what you have said in your letter…you have had great difficulty with being able to trust guys and to allow them to be part of your life. This is totally understandable after all that you have experience and I commend you for moving forward and choosing to go an get treatment in NH. After having such a traumatic experience with a guy…psychologically..I think it would be good for you to have this guy become involved in your journey with overcoming vaginimus. This does not mean that you need to have him in the treatment room whilst the procedure is taking place. I agree, that with the relationship being so new, and the experiences you have already had, this probably would not be beneficial for you. However, I think that having him involved….if he wants to be…wouyld be really beneficial for you. Think about it, allowing yourself to overcome one of the biggest things that you will ever have to overcome in your life with the help of a guy…I think would be hugely beneficial to your recovery. Learning to trust him one step at a time whilst you get physically treated for your vaginismus is only going to add to your progress. If this guy is going to stick around…which it sounds like he is planning on doing! You certainly don’t want to leave him behind whilst you are making progress! He, like you, needs to learn about the disorder and what it involves. If you ask him to come along and he says no then thats fine, but if he wants to be a part of your recovary..let him. Having him come along will either develop and deepen your relationship…which is usually what seems to happen, or, he will realise that he cannot handle going through the journey with you. If the latter occurs…it is better that you find out now at the beginning of your recovery…than further down the line when the rubber really hits the road.
It’s a scary step for you to take…and with whats happened to you, I think this particular step of allowing and trusting a guy to stick by your side through this, is something that you need to do to help you heal psychologically….not just physically…I hope you understand what I am trying to say. If he comes along with you, I would build a holiday around your treatment…that way you get to create a lot of good memories together and it’s not all about dealing with vaginismus..which as we know can become very intense! Go to New York….or take some summer hikes together…or visit the beaches…it’s such a beautiful area around there…I am always wanting to go back. In fact, me and David see this place as our new honeymoon spot now!!!!
I would have him come along so that he can sit in the counselling sessions with you and Dr Pacik. I think it would benefit him greatly to meet other couples with vaginismus, some of whom might have been living in a relationship for years before the treatment. Allowing him to meet and talk with Dr Pacik and other guys will give him a network of people that he can talk to if the going gets tough. I lived for 11 years suffering with primary vaginismus before we got treatment and the hardest thing was knowing that David had no one to talk to about how he was feeling and it was tough. So, don’t close the door on him coming along with you. I think open communication is also very important with this matter. Ask him what he would be comfortable with, and if he was to come along, what would he be comfortable and uncomfortable with participating in..that way you can both be on the same page in knowing what to expect from each other.
Well, I hope this has helped. If you want to talk more in depth about this please feel free to email me. I am happy for you to vent and ask question after question after question leading up to your procedure. Also, my husband who has also sent you a message is more than willing to chat with your boyfriend and answer questions, so please don’t feel alone with this. Anyway, bye for now!
RachelMay 5, 2013 at 2:11 pm #11450
Hello Elaine. My name is David, and my wife is Rachel. I read your posting on the forum, and really wanted to respond to your current situation. I am sorry to hear that eleven years have passed you by – but the silver lining to this dark cloud is this: you are now in a position to take true control rather than allowing the vaginismus to take control of you. My wife and I suffered with this problem for twelve years, and I am so glad for both my wife and I, that we met Peter Pacik.
I am so glad that you are ready to move forward, rather than allowing vaginismus to take another eleven years away from you. Life is way too short. I stood and watched the whole procedure and have been with my wife every step of the way for the last fourteen years; and I am so glad. I am amazed at the difference that the Botox procedure has made in Rachel. Not only is Dr Pacik great at what he does – both he and his wife Janet are gorgeous people whom we visited briefly again in October 2012.
The problem with vaginismus, is that it generates a “full system response” where thoughts, emotions and behaviors are extremely powerful. Our thoughts and feelings impact upon our physiology to an extent that we can feel our anxiety in our physical body. Increased heart rate; knot in the stomach; fearful anticipation of pain etc etc. As we experience this anxiety, it leads us to do a very human thing under those difficult circumstances – avoid. The problem with avoidance, is that we are promised escape or freedom from the problem at hand. However, we get anything but freedom. Whenever we avoid, we simply place ourselves into that solitary confinement cell from which there is no escape. Avoiding the matter simply reinforces our fear and dread, making it harder for us to overcome the psychological hurdle (or fortress) that we perceive before us.
I fully acknowledge the human tendency to avoid something that is threatening and want to validate your feelings. However, at the same time, to simply validate your feelings and leave it at that, would not lead you forward to the place of freedom that you really deserve to live. Your boyfriend sounds like a good guy, and maybe you could reframe your thoughts about him coming along. Instead of thinking or feelings things that are rooted in embarrassment, shame, fear, guilt – perhaps this is an opportunity for you to say “no” to the vaginismus, which seeks to dictate how things “should” be in your life. So, balancing acceptance of your circumstances and the prospect of cognitive, emotional and behavioral change, is not an easy thing for anybody to do, especially when we are talking about past trauma experiences such as rape, and the subsequent debilitating condition of vaginismus. However, it is more than possible.
Please forgive me for deliberately being lengthy in my response. I am a psychiatric nurse, and work as a mental health therapist. I’m the kind of guy who believes in giving a detailed explanation or insight into a matter.
I fully acknowledge your apprehension about taking your boyfriend with you and couldn’t help but notice that you commented about not being sure whether to take him with you or not. Your thinking here underlines a dichotomous pattern (either-or) which can feel risky for you or hurtful to your boyfriend. I say that you can do both…if you want! This is possible, by way of a compromise. Firstly, it is possible for your boyfriend to go with you and to be a support to you. He will learn so much from Dr Pacik also. Secondly, you do not have to have your boyfriend with you every step of the way if you do not want to. You are under no obligation to do anything that you do not want to. Thirdly, vaginismus has robbed you of enough in life; and if you really trust your new boyfriend, perhaps this could be a therapeutic opportunity for you to overcome fear, shame, avoidance etc.
There is always that tension between “willingness” and “wilfullness” where you may really want your boyfriend to go with you; yet at the same time, you have other reasons for not wanting him to go with you. Again, to fall into an “either-or” way of thinking is going to present some kind of difficulty for either you or your boyfriend (or even both of you).
As for the procedure itself, both Rachel and I were amazed at how quick and painless it was. I stood and watched the whole procedure and have learned so much about this disorder. After the actual Botox procedure, we spent time talking about the dilators and using the dilators. This was so powerful, as it really proves that there is nothing wrong with you, and that something can actually “fit” up there. I am so thankful to Dr Pacik for this whole process, as clinical psychologists, counsellors and physicians couldn’t solve the problem for us at all. I have learned so much about vaginismus and I have even written a research article about it which I aim to submit to The Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy. Rachel has written a book about her experience of vaginismus and is going to New York in June in order to go to some publishing conference.
Why am I telling you this? Because we have used the problem of vaginismus as an opportunity to help others, as opposed to merely being defeated and feeling robbed. Okay, it wasn’t the hand of cards that we expected to be dealt in life, and yes it has been extremely difficult. But life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass – it’s about learning to dance in the rain (a little slogan that I see on a daily basis in my work).
It is also worth giving serious consideration to the fact that you have Post Traumatic Stress from the rape. We both know that it really happened, and that you can relive certain experiences from that event, despite the fact that it occurred eleven years ago. I just want to encourage you, that there is hope – not just “wishful thinking” or glib desires for rainbows – but solid, tangible hope that will pull you through the pain and into a new realm of living instead of the empty miserable existence that others often do not see in our lives.
I cannot and would not ever tell you what to do. I have no right to do that. But I seriously want to encourage you to move forward. The only other way to move is backwards, and that will not give you the fulfillment that you truly seek from life. Moving sideways in avoidance will simply reinforce and prolong your psychological and physiological agony and leave you isolated.
If I can be of any further assistance or encouragement to you, then please feel freee to respond and/or ask questions. You do not need to “go it alone”.
DaveMay 5, 2013 at 4:38 pm #11451
Hi Rachel and David,
I cannot thank you enough for both of your replies. They have really given me some confidence in this hard time. You also couldnt have replied at a better time. First I want to say that it has just been a little over a week that I have started to deal with this. Last Friday was when I told Mike and started to really move forward with this. This past Friday I secured my appointment for June 17th. I am excited yet so nervous and feel like Im in a world wind of craziness. I havent delt with this for so long because it was the “easy” thing to do and now within a week I told Mike and scheduled to go up to New Hampshire. Its been hard to really wrap my head around everything but I do know, although hard, that this is all good.
Also last night I had a huge moment. First I did go more into a little more depth with Mike about the treatment. I had him watch the youtube video of Dr. Pacik and meet the staff (its still really hard for me to actually talk about it) so he could start to understand what this is all about. I told him that I wasnt sure what I wanted but I needed to know what he was comfortable with. Again he has proven to be such an amazing guy and said he is here for whatever I choose. That he is behind me all the way and isnt going anywhere. I couldnt be more thankful for him in my life right now. The other reason I had a huge moment last night was that for the first time in my life I slept in the same bed with a guy. There is something about him that allows me to let my guard down and feel safe. Also last night we had great intamency that was also a first for me. Anytime I have made out with a guy I either had to have several drinks for me to enjoy it or I was nervous and forcing myself into it because that is what a “normal” person does. It was also the first time I “truly” had desire to have sex. Obviously it didnt happen and there was no thought to even attempt but I had desire and I let down this wall. I woke up with a sense of happiness that I havent felt in such a long time. Waking up to a guy that I trust and makes me so happy was something that I never thought would happen.
After last night and then reading both of your responses I think I have made up my mind that I want him to come. I am not sure how much I want him involved just yet I guess I have some time and will also talk with Dr. Pacik more about it but I do think it is important that he be there. You guys seem like such amazing people. After hearing from you and talking with Dr. Pacik I have never had this sense of control and hopefulness over my life. I think just talking about it with people such as you guys and Mike has brought a different light on this and that Im not alone and I do have support. I will definitely contact Dr. Pacik for your email address and will also give it to Mike. I know I will most likely need someone who understands where Im coming from while enter what I know will be a roller coaster ride. Mike has been so understading but I am sure he probably has question to ask you Dave. Thank you two again for your replies. It is such an amazing feeling knowing Im not alone and that there are people that dont even know me that are here supporting me through this. Thank you again for everything and I will be intouch:)
ElaineMay 5, 2013 at 8:46 pm #11452
WOW!! What a series of excellent posts and so much valuable information.
I sent you an email tonight with their addresses.May 5, 2013 at 8:54 pm #11453
For those who have not heard Rachel’s song here is the link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9fZ0855nzcMay 7, 2013 at 8:46 pm #11458
Hi Elaine, I’m so sorry for everything you have gone through. It just breaks my heart. I am so happy though that you found Dr. Pacik and the Forum. Dr. Pacik and his team are the most kind, compassionate professionals who truly understand what we have all been going through with this awful condition. It sounds like you have found a wonderful man who really wants to be there for you and be supportive. That is such a huge blessing as so many of us haven’t always had that understanding and support. What huge steps you have taken in such a short amount of time after struggling with Vaginismus for so long. It is awesome! I’m so excited for your procedure on the 17th and look forward to reading more of your posts. Please know that I am here for you and cheering you on. Rachel and David have shared with you their awesome wisdom and I’m so glad that you found them and the Forum. Sending lots of positive thoughts and prayers your way. You can do this, you will succeed and be free from Vaginismus!May 7, 2013 at 10:14 pm #11463
Thank you for your post it was very touching. Knowing I have people behind me is so much more uplifting than I ever expected. Im so happy that I decided to share my story. Dr. Pacik has been absolutely amazing so far and I had know idea I could be so comfortable discussing something so personal to me to someone I have yet to meet and have just begun communicating with. He has definitley helped the nerves. I just am praying they stay under control come the 17th.
Mike each day makes me so blessed to have found him. The feelings between us I truly felt like I would never be able to share. Trust, friendship, intimacy, and vunerability are so forgien to me but are becoming so easy between us. He is so patient and reminds me everyday that he is behind me every step of the way and isnt going anywhere. He has been so patient and understanding it is truly incredible. I have put him through and thrown a lot at him over this past month and he hasnt even flinched. I dont know if I could be doing this without him. I am so blessed.
Having found all of you guys has been absolutely amazing and I cannot thank you all enough. I still have moments of panic thinking of all this but each day it gets less and less. I truly can say although nervous I am so excited for the 17th. Im starting to feel normal now and am looking for the final piece to the puzzle.
Thanks again to all of you!
ElaineMay 7, 2013 at 10:34 pm #11464
Elaine, I am so excited that you have booked an upcoming procedure! I know you will do so well! I am 3 weeks post-procedure today and cannot believe that I have come so far with the dilators and can now experience penetration – it is so amazing to feel like I am a complete woman now. While my experience was different than yours since I am married, I still understand the fear of involving a partner. When I first found this website and began reading everything I could about the treatment I was hopeful unlike I had ever been before, but also very briefly toyed with the idea of doing it alone because I was afraid that my partner would be turned off by the clinical aspect and continued therapy. I was so wrong! We had a strong relationship before, but after he came with me to New Hampshire he has repeatedly said in the last 3 weeks that he can’t believe how close and open our relationship has become since.
You luckily have a few weeks to continue talking with Mike to decide how much you want to him to be involved. I would definitely say that for us, it was beneficial to be there to do the counseling together so that my husband better understood what I was experiencing while I learned to be more open and communicative with him. It sounds encouraging that Mike has been receptive and supportive of you with what you have told him so far, especially since the treatment process can really accelerate or strain relationships. I hope you guys continue to grow together; what an exciting time!May 8, 2013 at 12:53 pm #11467
Thank you GoldDahlia:)
Its been a hard journey and I know I still have challenges ahead of me but Im more than ready to face them! Im still thinking about everything on how much to involve Mike and I honestly dont know if I will have made a decision until I get there. Him being involved in the counseling I know will be a good thing I just get so uncomfortable thinking about the rest. I know he is here for whatever I decide it is just a lot to absorb right now. Question though…do we practice with the dilators with the other vaginismus patients in the room??May 8, 2013 at 7:36 pm #11468
We are all in the same recovery room together after the procedure, but there are hospital privacy curtains that wrap all the way around each bed when we’re practicing inserting the dilators. I expected some awkwardness, but it wasn’t! All of the women in the room are going through the same thing, and my husband was so focused on what I was doing that he didn’t feel strange either. Once we all reached a certain point and were ready to hang out with the dilators in place for a while, we pulled up our blankets/clothes and opened the curtains to talk together while Dr. Pacik did his counseling (he asks beforehand if you’re comfortable with this).May 11, 2013 at 11:10 am #11469
Congratulations on taking the gigantic step of standing for yourself by posting your experiences! That is a major step down the path of personal healing that you are now on.
After over 35 years of vaginismus, I underwent my procedure with Dr. Pacik in March, 2012. Since I did not have a husband, significant other, or boyfriend at the time, I underwent treatment alone, and I have not regretted that decision for one minute. Dr. Pacik and his staff extended such heartfelt kindness and help to me that I never felt alone. A married couple was also at the clinic for treatment. We shared a pre/post-treatment room (with privacy curtains for separation as needed), and, at first, I was apprehensive because of the level of openness. The warmth of not only the staff, but the other couple, quickly dissolved that apprehension, as I realized that, even though I traveled to Manchester alone, I was not alone. I was surrounded by and was one of a group of caring people dedicated to a common goal. I am 1000% sure that should you decide to “go it alone,” you will be absolutely fine and have every bit of support from the staff and other patients that you need.
All of us who have embarked on this journey have done so because of our strong desire to either begin or improve our relationships, and curing vaginismus is a crucial component in that. However, it is not the only component. For me, it was ONE of the elements that made up the blanket of isolation that I so carefully wove around myself for protection against my lack of trust in relationships. During the 14 months since my treatment, I have also been working hard on deconstructing that blanket because I now know how much more full life is when we can build meaningful relationships with others. The most useful resources I have encountered for the “non-medical” part of my personal healing transformation are the courses and coaching services offered by Katherine Woodward Thomas. The website address is: http://www.callingintheone.com. Katherine and her coaches have helped thousands of women with relationships, many, many women who have devastating experiences similar to yours, and shown them how to stand for themselves and take control of their lives, who they want to be, and where they want to go. I would suggest that you contact them to see if they offer something that strikes a chord with you. I can assure you that nothing you tell them will be something they haven’t heard and helped with before.
Best of luck, Elaine. The great news is, you are already on your way!
MaryMay 11, 2013 at 6:18 pm #11470
I too was introduced to the term Vaginimus by way of the Tyra Banks Show. Although I always knew that there was something wrong, like you, I thought that I was alone and I had no idea that “it” had a name.
My boyfriend actually was watching the show and called to tell me that he thought the guest on the show described experiences that were very similar to mine. I decided to do some research. My research led me to Dr. P and I will forever be grateful.
God blessed women with intuition and if we listen and remain in tune, we can never go wrong. My suggestion would be to go with your gut in terms of making a decision.
I can relate to your fear, as I was in the same predicament. I decided to have my boyfriend join me and I am so glad that I did. He has always been loving and supportive but didn’t completely understand what I was going through until he saw me under anesthetic practically jump off the table when my Vulva was touched. Also, post-procedure it is important to have the support of a close friend who understands, as you will still be working through some angst with dilation and the introduction to intercourse.
Decide with your heart, step out on faith and know that your best days are ahead of you…This procedure will change your life forever and your future husband my be a part of the journey!
Best of luck to you!May 11, 2013 at 7:22 pm #11471
Thank you Tabia and Mary,
Your responses are extremely helpful and I will look into Katherine and her coaches. The past couple of days have been a little of an uphill battle for me. I feel myself retreating from Mike and Im not sure why. I do trust him and I am not fearful around him. Mike continually shows me kindness and support but Im questioning if I still feel the same feelings I did just a bit ago. I think because of my situation it has made us become a lot closer and create a serious relationship extremely quickly. I am starting to feel suffocated. Im new to opening myself to others about this, new to becoming involved in any kind of relationship with guys, and new to myself. I find myself wondering what Im looking for. There is this new side to me that I don’t even know. Im so confused and so stressed. The last thing I want to do is hurt Mike. I have no clue where to go from here. Can anyone relate or have any advice?
Thanks in advance
ElaineMay 14, 2013 at 8:53 pm #11474
Hi Elaine, I just wanted you to know that I am thinking of you. Try to breathe and take baby steps. I totally understand how you may be retreating from Mike. You have gone through so much and I”m sure you are afraid of being hurt and rejected again. Sometimes our first reaction is to pull away when we get close so that we feel we are in control and the other person doesn’t have a chance to do it to us. Try to journal your thoughts and feelings. I have found that this can be very helpful…writing down these feelings instead of keeping them all bottled up inside. Please try to be kind to yourself and not stress. Maybe when you feel comfortable share your feelings with Mike. Maybe writing your feelings and sharing them with Mike might feel more safe for you instead of a face to face conversation. And when you are comfortable let him know that the last thing you want to do is hurt him. Above everything, give yourself time. You have gone through so much and you have taken huge steps to begin healing. I’m here for you and sending you a big hug.
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