The In-Betweener

My sister has just informed me that the little package I didn’t recognise at the bottom of her bag is a tampon.  Things must have changed a bit since 1996, which is the last date that I remember having a period; or maybe I’ve just forgotten. I’m not even sure that we made it to first name terms.

It is embarrassing, at 30, to be informed of what a tampon looks like; and I am beginning to get a bit concerned now, that even though I’m weighing in near normal, they have not made a reappearance. It feels like a kick in the teeth. After I have done so much hard work and changed myself, beyond all recognition, my body still won’t play ball.

So, instead of feeling like a woman, which I’d quite aspire to; I feel like a swollen child. And, whilst I know that I’ve had issues with growing up, I now feel trapped in this horrible in-between body, where I certainly wouldn’t be considered a girl – but I’m not quite a woman either.

Forwards – or backwards?

At the moment, I just feel stuck.

My consultant considered my situation quite specific: he didn’t have any research to hand.  My GP is optimistic: he believes that body’s can heal. I’m not so sure.  It will not just have to heal: it will have to leapfrog straight over puberty  – and I imagine that’s quite a flight.

So, at the moment, I am neither here – nor there – and I’m not sure which direction I’d rather be heading in.  I have kind of enjoyed teetering on the peripherary of womanhood – but then the teetering has made me aware of just how much I am still just skirting around the edge.

This presents a bit of a dilemma: do I take the risk of going forward, because an extra few pounds might just be enough? Or, do I give into the lure of tiptoeing backwards, because at least I might feel a touch more comfortable in my skin?

The latter is, of course a non-option; the former something that I can’t quite take in.

So, for the moment it’s a stalemate that has got me frozen in the middle, and I’m aware that the old feelings of paralysis are starting to creep back in. The next step is a terrifying leap into oblivion; and behind me, an illusion that has already been laid bare.

The only problem, this time, is that I don’t have another 17 years to decide on the best decision; and, I don’t want to wake up, when I’m nearing 50, and realise what I threw away.

So it’s forwards – or backwards -

but at the moment I’m somewhere horrible in-between.

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6 Responses to “The In-Betweener”

  1. GirlAnon says:

    I found this post a difficult one to read, mainly because, fortunately it seems, I cannot literally empathise with you. I have never got so far as to where my periods would stop.

    For other, self-induced, reasons, I do have concerns about my fertility. I was a self-destructive teenager and put my body through a lot, so I shall consider myself lucky if I ever decide to have a family and am successful in so doing.

    I spent a long time telling myself I would never want children. They were horrible and ruin your life, as well as the dreaded ruining of you body. I have even said that I’d rather me be infertile than my sisters, in more flippant moments. I was angry at those women who spend hours discussing breastfeeding (disgusting) and cooing over pictures of babies (they all look the same – horrible). I didn’t get it at all and didn’t want to.

    But now I’m 26 and in a relationship with a man who is more than I could have hoped for, and I’m starting to think that maybe, MAYBE, somewhere down the line I might want a family. And the thought of not being able to – of being stuck, as you described it, in a sort of in-between state – is scary.

    With therapy, and much time, I’ve realised this was never really my thinking. It was my mother’s thinking. She told me not to bother having children – they ruin your life, along with myriad other information that seems to me now as highly inappropriate to say to a child.

    So yes; it’s horrible to think you might be stuck somewhere having to make decisions (or not) about such a big issue relating to one’s future.

    Also, the other thing I felt impelled to say is that whilst children are a huge deal, they aren’t to be held up as a defining feature of womanhood. Being a woman, to me, is taking steps to be independent, accepting that you can’t be strong all of the time and may need help, but taking those steps to get it. Sort of being somewhat the master of your own destiny.

    And in this sense, I’d say you were more than already in the category of ‘woman’.

  2. melissa says:

    Gosh – thank you! Such an important point – have got quite hooked on one tracked ideas of what being a woman means. I’m sorry that you had a hard relationship – and hope that you keep moving forwards towards happiness, whatever for that takes for you.

  3. Abby says:

    I pretty much thought I was the only one, so thank you for writing this post. It’s probably been just as long for me without a period, and I often feel like a 12-year old boy as opposed to a 28-year-old woman. While I never plan on having kids, I know that it’s an important component of hormonal balances and, well, feminine appearance. I would love to have hip, boobs and a feminine appearance–give me an extra 25 lbs and I will happily maintain it–it’s just getting there.

    Another part of my ambivalence is that no GP or doctor has ever “forced” me to take pills to induce it again. Without someone telling me I “have” to get my period back, I justify it by saying that I don’t want to add an more discomfort to my life. However, I think it is quite symbolic and feel caught in-between as well.

  4. melissa says:

    Thank you for sharing this – I found it quite hard to talk about. We’ve considered pills but written it off for some reason so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I suppose for me the main thing is I don’t want my eating disorder to limit my future as it limited my past. The feminine appearance is also a HUGE thing for me, but I need a bit more courage to work that one out!
    You’re not alone in this though. xx

  5. James says:

    I can’t empathise with the female aspects but definitely know what you mean about being ‘in-between’. Having a testosterone deficiency messed up my adolescent development and eating disorders have held me back physically and mentally (not in terms of learning, but emotionally I guess). You want to grow up more but you can’t. At the same time you’re afraid of things changing and fear that. You’re left stuck somewhere in between with no idea who you are and a feeling that you’re really not happy with yourself and that you’re not who or what you should be.

    All the damaged biological aspects – sexual relationships, periods, children, etc. – are things that really make me mad at eating disorders because they stand to be irreversible. I worry that I’ve ruined the future because of anorexia. It’s that thought – and the feeling that you can never get out of the in-between limbo – that really gets me upset.

    Thanks for sharing this really personal post with us Melissa and also GirlAnon and Abby for your comments. Hopefully there’s some comfort in knowing that you’re not alone, that the future isn’t written yet and that your body doesn’t make you a man or a woman. No one’s body is ‘perfect’ and there’s more to you than your body.

  6. melissa says:

    …and a big thank you for your comment too. Maybe this is part of the transition phase and it comes down to a more general acceptance (that I think most of the comments touch on) of who we are, rather than who we think we should be; and the importance of moving towards health.