So I graduated high school. Big life defining moment, right? I remember the day well. My uncle Steven drove down to attend – that was fun! He didn’t have his own children, and hadn’t been a huge part of my childhood, but when he came to my graduation it was pretty special! Another very, very special memory involves my best friend, Eileen.
We had been friends for years, but the last year we had gotten extremely close. Her parents had embraced me as another daughter, and we spent hours and hours together as best friends. She was to be my maid of honor that fall, we were on the armed drill team together, everything. I don’t know that I talked much about my MRKH diagnosis with her – I mean I must have at some level, confided in her and likely her mom too. I don’t honestly remember. But she knew of my surgery, and that I now knew I couldn’t have kids – but I don’t think I would have said anything else to her – or anyone. I just pretty much didn’t talk to anyone about it.
So graduation day arrived, Uncle Steven was in the audience, and we were all lined up in the stadium alphabetically. Eileen and I having the G-A-M and G-A-N last names figured we would get to sit next to each other. Sadly…the line broke between us, I was at the end of one row, she was the beginning of the other. As we filed up to the stage, each row heading to opposing sides of the stage…and as we came across the stage, our names announced, shake the principal’s hand, get your diploma, your family claps…and you walk down the stairs on the other side…Eileen was at the front of the line and waiting at the base of the stairs! We gave each other a giant hug – held up the line a bit to the cheers and claps of friends and family…and she got her diploma, and with that – High School was a thing of the past.
The next few days are a blur. I packed the last couple boxes of things and drove them over to my soon to be Father in law’s house. I spent time with friends and wished Aaron well as he headed off to Marine Corps boot camp. I was officially moved out of my parents’ house, packed and ready to fly to Florida, and nervous as hell as Eileen and her dad drove me to the airport. It was a huge day on so many levels, and I was glad to have Eileen and her dad with me. Back then, your friends and family could go all the way to the gate to wait for your plane and watch you climb on board…and wave at you when the plane pulled away from the gate. It was not the first time I had flown, but it was the first time I’d been on my own completely. I had a layover somewhere, had to change planes and all that – but I was determined…I could do it.
Eventually, I arrived in Florida and was met at the airport by my fiancé and a couple friends. I met his friend and wife, and we rode back to their apartment. Our plan was to spend a few days with them around Florida before driving across the country back to Washington state. I was shy and nervous. Meeting new people always made me anxious, and all these people had heard all about me yet I didn’t know much about them at all. And they were all several years older than me. It was totally awkward.
Add to this the fact that I had this totally awkward conversation I had to have with my fiancé about MRKH and no uterus and stretching and well…it was awful. We had avoided a sexual relationship while I was in high school. I just wasn’t ready to give up my virginity, and likely he didn’t want to be charged with statutory rape. We didn’t really talk about it…we just didn’t go down that road. But we both knew that when I got to Florida, things would be different. I mean really…we were getting married in 4 months, I had moved all my belongings into his dad’s house it was kind of expected – and it’s not like we had agreed to wait for our wedding day or anything. But I knew that I had to talk to him “before”…so that he would know that I was “different”. But how do you start that kind of conversation??? And we were staying with his friends…I was just lost.
Eventually, the friends excused themselves – it was late, they had to work tomorrow, nice to meet you, help yourself to anything you need, we’ll see you tomorrow evening, good night. This was it…go time…I was scared to death. I changed into a nightgown, and into bed I went. We talked, we talked for hours about anything and nothing, but never about what I had to talk to him about. We were both nervous and awkward I think. We talked until we both fell asleep. I woke in the morning to the sounds of his friends getting ready and leaving for work. We still hadn’t talked about “it”. I was petrified. He started kissing me and touching me. I was stiff as a board, scared out of my mind about what was about to happen. Stop. Wait. No. Not yet…we had to talk. What was happening? I just shut down…frozen…eyes closed…crying silent tears…terrified.
When I could finally articulate words again, I attempted to explain that we were supposed to talk first so he would know that I was different and that things needed to be gradually stretched out. I was so embarrassed when he said something like, “well that explains why I couldn’t get in…”. It was a horrible day. I was mortified by the fact that I was different, and that he had not given me the chance to explain – and I had nowhere to go. I was all alone and didn’t honestly know all that had just happened to me.
I got up and went to the bathroom. I was very sore. There were some streaks of blood. I found some panty liners in the bathroom, took a shower and got dressed. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what I needed or who to ask for help. I was lost and utterly alone. I just had to survive – find a way to make it through the next few days. Until then, I knew I just had to improvise – that was the first step. Put on a mask and not let anyone see what was behind it – survive the next hour, the next day.