A few weeks ago I put my hand up for a market research interview in one of the Facebook groups I'm in. I do this from time to time, giving back to the communities I'm active in by giving other biz chicks a hand in whatever way I can.
This time the conversation was talking to Jess about my experience with hormonal contraception. I'm 45 and both my kids are grown up so the memory of this visit to the doctor was something I hadn't thought of in a long time.
As I was telling Jess the story of how I was introduced to hormonal contraception, I realised that this story popped up for me right now for a very good reason.
It was all about being seen and heard. Or rather, not being seen and heard.
After my first child was born, almost immediately, during one of my post natal check ups, my doctor just handed me a prescription for contraceptive pills.
There was no conversation about this topic between him and I. I hadn't asked for the pills. I hadn't even thought about contraception.
I took it as this is how they do things in Australia after you have a baby.
A little back story, so this makes sense to you. I'm from Hungary and lived there until I was 20. I married an Aussie and came to Australia 7 months pregnant. Healthcare out of the Eastern Block was completely unfamiliar to me and I trusted that whatever was happening was "how they do things here".
I grew up with the notion that when a person of authority told you to do something, you did it, you didn't question it. Not because you were a mindless sheep but because questioning the "authority" wasn't safe. Hungary was a communist country during most of my time there. And you didn't rise against the "authority" if you knew what was good for you.
So when my GP handed me the script, I asked what it was for and took his short reply of "it's contraceptive pills because you don't' want to get pregnant again and you have to take it once a day at the same time" as the WORD and obediently marched to the chemist to fill my script.
Before you let out a horrified gasp of me being obedient, let me make one thing clear. This was 25 years ago and I am not the same woman I was back then.
Not even close.
So the conversation with Jess brought up this memory and I hadn't realised for about a week or two that I needed to talk about it and use it.
Because if it happened to me, it happened to others.
This is a classic story of visibility. Or rather invisibility. And it happened because I didn't know any better.
I accepted what was happening at the time without questioning. Without participating in the story.
Because it hadn't even occurred to me that I had the power to participate.
If I knew the wisdom then that I do now, that session with my doctor would have gone down differently.
I wouldn't have had to go through months of excruciating and uncontrollable mental and emotional upheaval that was caused by the synthetic hormones introduced to my body.
To make matters worse, I put up with it all because believed that I had to take one for the team. My husband was watching all this unfold before calling it after about 4 months.
We decided that the side effects weren't worth it and never went back to refill the script.
Also changed doctors but it took me about another 2 decades before I would find one I felt visible to. Someone who would hear me and see me as a person instead of a set of symptoms.
I wondered for a while what would have happened if I had found the power within to question or better yet, say no to something I hadn't decided on for myself.
Oh, and the guilt and shame of causing all the upheaval for my family because of mental and emotional instability the pill caused! That was a doozy!
So I started with forgiveness. Before I even touched on forgiving that doctor, I knew I had to do it for myself. So I worked on that for a while.
It was a lot to unpack.
I'm not the same person I was back then.
I've done amazingly well growing into the woman I am today. I acknowledged that piece of experience as something that now gives me the ammunition to write this story. And to see how far I have come.
Because shit like that wouldn't fly with me anymore!
Do you relate to this story? Have you got similar experiences about not owning your power to be visible?