Sometimes, I honestly have no idea who I am. Barring the trauma induced /naturally occurring existential unknowing, I also am perpetually amazed by how many different lives I’ve lived. Lost child, wayward party kid, stepford girlfriend, sleep deprived wannabe-slut, to the closest thing to normal I’ve ever resembled.
And the normal period of my life? I worked for a porn company.
Man, even from hour to hour, I change. I go from guileless ingenue, to lesbian biker vampire, often within the same evening. Sure, it’s all just clothes, but my everything changes. My features shift and harden, depending on how much hetero male attention I crave. Even my body language changes, sometimes I’ve got the sashay of an amorous secretary, or I’ve got the battle hardened stride of a woman who has roared. Other times, I slump and shrink, doing my best to disappear from this plane of existence.
Primarily because I measure my insides to another’s outsides, but it seems like I’m a real life shapeshifter, effortlessly shirking and taking on mantles as easily as one puts on socks. Maybe it’s a gift, I can empathize with another by imagining myself as another, and I can play hostess or whore with equal amounts ease.
Personally, I’ve thought of it as a curse. There feels like there is no acceptable core to my personality, and what is there, is a raw, screaming mess. I cover it in emotional nacre, refusing to let another soul to come near it. I adored playing pretend, as I was raised to believe that who I was, was unacceptable. My needs, tears, existence were meant to be scrubbed away, and painted over with something a little prettier, don’t you think, sweetheart?
All my tears, my rage, and feelings of loneliness were ordered to be excised from my body and only palatable characteristics are permitted to remain. Maybe this is a socialization that all women, or maybe all people go through, the process of hiding our bad in order for everything to not fall apart. Maybe the new Snowflake movement is because for the first time in our civilization, we are not hiding all of our bullshit from the world.
Maybe I’m just a fuckup who can’t seem to hide it any longer.
Regardless, people laud me for my authenticity, which makes me cringe. What realness? Everything I put forth, feels like drag, and not particularly successful drag at that. My smiles, the quips that roll off my tongue (whether I want them to or not), and the ability to put others either at ease or discomfort, it all feels orchestrated and not honest in any sense of the word.
Through therapy, I’m toying with the notion that maybe these palatable, enjoyable characteristics are as real as the self-loathing and insecurities I harbour inside. My entire life, I’ve rejected what I’ve projected outwards, and kept all the messy insides buried deep within, for absolutely no one to see. It was simply safer that way. As a result, I’ve viewed my personality as a persona, a mask I put on to face the world. I don’t know what is real and what isn’t anymore.
I don’t think anyone does.
“We’re sorry, but your request for financial aid in regards to your sexual abuse case has been rejected. Unfortunately, you do not meet the parameters of this program, as while what you endured may have been traumatic, it does not qualify as sexual abuse..”
Upon reading this letter, my insides froze, just Iike they used to when my ex would touch me. There were no words to describe how much the world stood still in that moment.
CW: This one’s a bit gross and a very vaginal-oriented one, so if you’re not into it, probably would be best if you toddled off to something else less…harrowing.
Many folks with vaginas often have hymens. For some reason, this little membrane of skin is held in freakishly high regard, usually by people without them. They apparently indicate chastity or some bullshit. Imagine if we had a flap of skin on our thumbs and index finger that indicate that we’d never taken a selfie, or texted someone? Yeah, basically that important.
Anyways, here’s the story of how I got my hypothetical dowry reduced from a cow to probably a very ill-tempered, barren chicken at age 5-6.
As a teenager, I read about this hymen-thingy in books. It was supposed to be there in many vagina-havers, but I could never find mine, and I looked around. Not having an intact hymen didn’t really bother me, but like a trinket you misplaced, you end up absent-mindedly wondering where you put it, you know? It took me years and years until I linked a number of fuzzy memories together and then I had a lightbulb moment.
Followed by a facepalm.
So the tale isn’t that exciting – I wasn’t saving a kitten from a tree, or other typical ways people lose their hymens. It really stems from me being a giant klutz as a kid, and being obsessed with these weird side-by-side uneven bars at the school playground.
Yeah, you’re seeing where this story is going.
I guess I fancied myself an aspiring gymnast; I’d spend all day clambering up them, and trying to teach myself tricks, unsupervised. One day, I fucked up; like out of a cartoon, one ill-executed move meant I hit the bar, right up my alley.
White hot pain shot between my legs, and my brain was convinced some thing was terribly wrong. I burst out crying, and ran into the school bathroom. Sobbing, I looked down and there was blood.
Blood isn’t supposed to come out of there! (OH GOD, I wish that were the case, baby.)
Through snot, tears and blubbering, I managed to convey to the teachers that Something Was Wrong Down There, and they sent me home with my mother. Being only told to that “Tanya fell off some playground equipment,” she was terrified that I broke an arm or something. I imagine she must have been confused when she was handed a very shaken daughter, with tear-stained cheeks but no visible signs of injury. I imagine the teacher told her that Baby!Tanya hurt her Private Parts, and there was blood.
Oh. Ohhh, boy, she probably thought while trying to frantically trying to figure out a way to fix up her daughter’s chastity with Scotch tape and bubble gum. Sex education in 1970s Communist China was pretty terrible, and girls thought you could get pregnant if you sat in a spot previously occupied by a boy. (If we keep defunding sex ed and Planned Parenthood, we’re probably going back to that level of understanding of the human body)
Seems like Momma didn’t attempt a DIY vagina rejuvenation (Frankly, I was pretty juven, no need for a /re/juvenation) and she took me to the doctor – I have vague memories of an exceptionally bright light shining down on my prone body on a cold medical table.
I recall the Doctor’s big face hovering above, murmuring to my mother in a Charlie Brown-style Womp whomp womp Grownup Person Voice. I can’t remember what was exchanged in the conversation, but I distinctly remember my mom’s harried and hurried explanation of what happened to me, as she led me out of the doctor’s office by my hand.
My Chinese was pretty basic, I could figure out things like “I want juice” or “I have to pee.”
I missed that day of learning “Well Tanya, you ruptured your damn membrane in your vaginal opening, the one that culturally signifies your purity. Now you’ve been compromised and the social implications are far-reaching, when you become of marriageable age.”
Which is pretty close to “I want juice,” I guess.
So I never understood what had happened to me that day for many years after.
Except, I guess I didn’t lose it entirely.
Flash forward to like, 18 years– I’m a 23 year old person having first-time sex with someone who was, ahem, girthy. We were getting busy, and suddenly, Holy shit, ow.
A distinct tearing pain ripped through me, and I yelped. We stopped and tried for months to figure it out; was it position? Lubrication? The alignment of the different planetary houses? I had sex for the first time at 16, and while I’m not exactly the Red Baron, my body count was decent– respectable, even.
Months and months, no dice. I even tried to explain it to my doctor, who sent me to a urologist. Cue Tanya in stirrups, having a camera snaked up her urethra and four resident student doctors staring at my bladder doing its thing, on the high-def screen above me.
Absolutely not mortifying at all.
I’m someone who hates having photos taken of her, so this was next-level.
Also, turns out my bladder has plaque on it. Guess I should floss more.
Eventually my doctor has his brain reinstalled and sends me to a gynaecologist. She looks at it for half a second and goes “Oh! That’s just your hymen, there’s still some that remains.”
My brain screeched to a halt.
Is my hymen coming back from the dead?
And that’s the story of how I lost and found my hymen.