“It takes balls to be a woman.” I saw this quoted somewhere, and it resonated with me.
Sixteen days ago, two months into being 40, I evicted all of my woman parts — full hysterectomy.
And yeah, I’m going to go ahead and talk about this because there are a lot of emotions tied to it. But I promise it will be empowering if you stick with me.
First, let’s start by stating the obvious as a gentle reminder: Women are goddamn warriors. We are given the glory of all of the burdens throughout life: periods, pregnancy, birth, cramps, hormones, cysts, tumors, pap smears, and alas, menopause. I’ve now traded super-plus tampons and pads for hot flashes, bone loss, and (more) mood swings.
From a young age, we have historically been taught that period talk is taboo. It’s embarrassing and gross, apparently. It took me 20 years to stop hiding my tampons under my paper towel purchase at the grocery store. (You know you’re guilty of it too.) Women are side-eyed if we’re in a bad mood, immediate accusations of hormones being to blame ensue, and rightfully so because this part of being a woman is fucking hard. And guess what? It’s life for each and every female alive.
Let’s get rid of the stigma and the un-sexiness of having reproductive organs that function. We have them. Sometimes they function in a healthy fashion, but many times, they don’t. And it sucks. It actually sucks either way. Sure, we’re so fortunate that our bodies are able to do this. The miracle of life and all of that bullshit. Sure, it’s fucking beautiful and all, but for many of us, it’s all hard.
It’s easily dismissed when we say we’re dealing with a lot of female issues. I feel like most don’t know how hard it can be, how debilitating these female issues can be. Fibroid tumors, chronic ovarian cysts, severe anemia, years of terrible bleeding and pain. These were all my female issues and my reasons for needing a hysterectomy. I needed my life back, physically and mentally. I was circling the drain, no exaggeration.
And I’m certainly not alone. Thousands of women need hysterectomies every year for issues far more intense than mine even. Our bodies take a beating, and it’s difficult and certainly underappreciated.
Solidarity, sisters. This is some tough shit to navigate.
And in spite of all of this, here we are being head of household tasks, raising children, being cruise directors for the family’s social calendar, and many of us are career women.
I mean, shit. This is a lot. We are fucking warriors.
Self-care immediately comes to mind when thinking all of this through.
I realized that, yes, all of these physical issues I was having were out of my control, of course, but what really struck me was that I was excited to have a major surgery, so I could rest. Isn’t that crazy? I was actually looking forward to an invasive, life-altering surgery so I could actually self-care and self-preserve a little.
With or without said female issues, knowing the women in my life and what they do on a day-to-day basis, self-care seems to be a far-off fantasy for most, some sort of unicorn. We just don’t do it because we can’t. We do too much, we take on too much, largely because we have to — but also because we don’t say no. This is why we talk about living off of wine and coffee so much. Our lives are fucking crazy. This isn’t an illusion, this isn’t being weak, this isn’t being selfish. Being a woman is taxing, tiresome, and sometimes downright grueling.
So, here’s my plea: Women, take some time. Any time. Make a plan. Hire a babysitter. Utilize the aftercare at school. Drink that third glass of wine with your girlfriends. Call in sick because, yes, period cramps really fucking hurt. Explore your hobby. Or go bigger and take the trip. Shit, take the trip by yourself. Even sit down and schedule the time you need to be the best version of you. Stop making excuses. You need it. Your kids need it. Your relationships need it. Your body, spirit, and mind need it.
Don’t wish for a surgery to get some rest. Live. Don’t burn out.
Carry on, warriors. Much love to you all for fighting the good fight of womanhood. It certainly does take a huge set of balls.