This is from a prompt in my creative writing class. I have been thinking a lot about women and medicine and being believed. Expect something of a similar theme about me and the USA gymnastics team and how we are the same. But until then.
Take this body. Broken for you.
I know what it is like to have a body that is broken. One that conforms to societies standards for height and weight and gender expression but one that is….broken. Irrevocably broken. I know what it s like to be broken.
I was thirteen and it was 1996 and I had never kissed a boy but I had the kissing disease. Mono. This felt entirely unfair. Cruel even. What do you mean I have mono? But I suppose it was better than the alternative diagnoses. It took two doctors and a therapist to get the tests done to prove I was broken, or rather my body was broken. Everyone agreed that something was wrong but my first pediatrician decided that my body was fine and I was broken. I was diagnosed as lazy. The sentence was directed at my mother but I was in the room. She sent me to a therapist, a therapist for delinquents who told my mom to quit her job so that she could stop me from having sex and smoking weed at home when she was at work….I wasn’t allowed to deny it in the session. He didn’t much care what I had to say. But my mother did. And over the diagnoses of lazy and delinquent came a firmer stronger softer call: Abby, I believe you. I believe that your body is broken, I refuse to believe that you are broken. I believe you, Abby. What you say is true.
And she did. She believed me and quietly cancelled the next pediatric appointment, sent me to her own doctor who she knew to be an exceptionally kind and good listener. And she believed me through the co-pays on the blood tests we could not really afford. She believed me when we went to specialist after specialist and had tests for my thyroid every month for a year. She believed me when the doctors shrugged and said “maybe she will grow out of it” and “maybe we could put her on an anti-psychotic” and she believed me that this was not a good drug for me and weaned me off it before the lawsuits against it came out. She believed me so much that she took her credit card and called the doctor who only saw adults with cash and convinced him to see her 17 year old. For four years she believed me.
And, then…and then she believed him. She believed him when he told me that I was going to get much better. She believed him when he said it would take a massive amount of change. She read the dietary restrictions and packed up everything in the house I could not eat and she sent it off to my boyfriend the very same day. She learned which cans of spaghetti sauce had preservative and she learned to buy all natural peanut butter. She believed I did not have to be broken. She believed I could be whole.
And there is a myth of motherhood that tells us that she broke and that is why I did not have to. But that is a lie, one that is likely straight from the pit. She believed me, and that made me whole and that made her whole and we were whole together. Maybe more whole than either of us had ever been.
This is my body, broken for you. You don’t have to be broken any more.