What is True Freedom?
What does true freedom feel like for women?
See my life was ruled by my uterus since I could remember. My parts alone prevented me from being able to walk to the local candy store by myself, in fear of something happening to me. My developing body never stopped the catcalling from old men trying to pick me up on the street while walking to my one safe space, my neighborhood library.
When I got my period, the energy of being ruled by a calendar and my flow restricted the clothes I wore, the activities I did, and the people I was around. I wanted the period freedom I saw in commercials but never felt that free. Instead I sat in classrooms with migraines and cramps, keeping my tears at bay because I thought that this was just the way my period was going to be.
Freedom didn’t come as I got older. Periods lasting three weeks to a month; blood flow that led to needing blood transfusions and iron shots every other day. Being put on birth control pills to help regulate my body, which only provided temporary relief. A moment of freedom and embracing the otherworldly blue waters of Santorini, ruined while standing in a puddle of blood in their tiny airport. The amount of pain of living with a uterus that led to secret throwups in bathrooms because the pain was so great that I couldn’t breathe. But still managing to bring my body to work everyday, fearing not being weak or missing out. Planning my trips around my time of the month. Never being able to pack for a weekend with just a carry-on.
Every step of trying to find a way to live my life better and freer by my own terms, impeded because the medical world thought that I didn’t know my own mind and body. Procedures offered to protect my uterus for my future babies, and not to offer me relief. The medical debt of choosing to have a procedure two hours from my home, that was not covered by my insurance because I was unmarried and didn’t have kids. However, that was the first moment that I felt a bit better; a bit freer.
Four years of relief, but my uterus started to protest. The return of month-long periods, pain that I had to hide, and the only temporary relief came in getting a shot that gave me menopause symptoms at the age of 34. Preparing myself for a major surgery to protect my uterus, because the medical community decided I need to protect my chances for having kids. But God blessed me with a fabulous male doctor in Kuwait, who was the first man in my life to ever ask me what I wanted for my body. That moment, that procedure, gave me 6 years of freedom.
Six years of having white lady on the maxi pad commercial periods. Of traveling and packing in just a carryon because I didn’t have to plan for multiple outfit changes from leaks and accidents. But of course, my uterus started to rule my life again. But finally I was old enough by medical standards, to have what I fully wanted for my body my entire life. True freedom came when I had my hysterectomy this summer.
When asked how I was feeling, the first phrase that came to mind was truly free. Forty three years old, and I finally had a say about my uterus and my body.
Over 30 years of my life, my pain, my embarrassment, controlled because the world deemed it necessary that my pain was not important, because I needed to protect it for my future children that I never thought that God had in the plan for me. Thirty years to have a voice about my body!
Forty three years, actually. My whole entire life, to never have a say…. This is the world in which women exist.
As I finally sit in my liberation, I can’t help to think that I am an exception and not a rule. I will never know the thinking process of a woman who has to decide if she has to have an abortion, but I can empathize with that woman because we are the same. We both exist in a world where we have no say to what we can do with our own bodies. I simply cannot understand that.
The world would not exist without the beauty of our uterus. We do so many extraordinary things, with our physical, spiritual, and emotional selves, that the beauty that others take for granted would not exist if it wasn’t for what we have.
I have been so blessed to be at the side of women in my life who give birth to a new little person, and to place all of the positive energy in this new life, in making the world a better place. But I also have been at the side of young women, praying with them, who had to make the tough decision to have an abortion. The conflict of knowing that the circumstances of their lives were not in a space to care for another human being because they could not care for themselves. The strength and the mindset to make that decision is something I think I will never know what I will do. But at least for a moment, there was a choice available.
I write this to say that women never truly know freedom because we are ruled by what this world decides what our bodies are good for. That it’s complete nonsense that she does not have the right to choose what happens with her physical health every day. This is not a political statement, but more so a realization that our bodies are never really free, until we are free from the one part that is policed.