Are you still there, Lily?

To: Miss Lily Fields
Woods of the Lake, Northeastern Ohio

From: Mme L.F. Indulgent-Scalawags
Alsace, France

Dear Lily,

I’m worried about you. Please just drop me a line to let me know you are all right.

Mme Indulgent-Scalawags

Lily Responds

To: Mme L.F. Indulgent-Scalawags
Alsace, France

From: Miss Lily Fields
Woods by the Lake, Northeastern Ohio

Dear Mme Indulgent-Scalawags,

Everything’s fine. I’m fine. School is fine. My job is fine.


Mme Indulgent-Scalawags Insists

To: Miss Lily Fields
Woods of the Lake, Northeastern Ohio

From: Mme L.F. Indulgent-Scalawags
Alsace, France

Dear Lily,

Well, Lily, I’m guessing from your lukewarm response that you didn’t take my warning. From here on out, the only thing you can do is advocate for yourself.

In a few months, on what is going to appear to be a whim, you are going to marry that boy from the bus stop. You will do it for a lot of reasons that don’t make any sense at all. You will do it because he is someone safe (easy to be when he lives on the other side of the world) and because he is the only person who understands you. You will say it is because your phone bills were $800 per month (which they were) and getting married was the only economic solution to staying friends with him.

Do you even know what it means to be married, Lily? No. You don’t. Luckily for you, neither does he.

Also, luckily for you, he is a kind, indulgent, charming and patient man.

I know you won’t listen to me, but I want so desperately for you not to have to go through what is coming. Please, in spite of the fear you have of the gynecologist, a fear that looks like a purple dress and still traumatizes you, go to a doctor.

Unless you do, you are going to go through more than a decade of discomfort, misunderstandings and shame about your body and what you cannot do with it. You are going to believe that something is physically wrong with you. You are perfect. Listen to me, Lily: You are perfect.

You are going to sit in a therapist’s office in a little more than a year and, even though this sounds made up, she will fall asleep during your sessions. This will not happen only once, Lily, it will happen several times. This woman will fall asleep while you try to tell her what is going on in your head and how it is effecting your body. Do not quietly creep out of her office so as not to wake her up. Do not make excuses for her. Her disregard for you and your problem will put you back another decade.

Your problem isn’t common, but it is real.

You will keep your problem a secret for fourteen years until someone you don’t know comes up to you at church claiming that God has something to say to you, saying you will have a baby. You will laugh because you know it’s not possible. But then someone else with great sincerity and kindness will tell you the same thing.

Finally, you will capitulate and pray about your problem for the first time. You will pray that if this is real, someone else will tell you the same thing for the third time. And what will happen? You will hear it a third and a fourth time, just so you know you can’t ignore it any longer.

It won’t be until you meet Sonia that you will trust someone enough to share your secret. She will take you seriously. She has heard of your condition before. She knows that it can be cured.

She will put a name on your condition and your life will change. It’s called vaginismus and it is curable. You will work hard. Lily, for once in your life, you will work very, very, very hard.

A gynecologist will tell you, “just have a couple glasses of wine and enjoy yourself.” You have my permission to tell him to kindly go jump in the lake.

But once your hard work pays off, you will find that your body doesn’t want to cooperate to make a baby. You will undergo tests that scare you to death.

A medical professional will tell you that your “environment is toxic.” It’s not even a question of your internal reproductive system or hormones being a problem. Those little guys can’t even make it to the gate.

Once you get a handle on that problem, you will lose two babies.

You will learn so much about heaven and God’s presence and his promises. As strange as it sounds, after you are done crying for those babies, you will not regret losing them. From the depths of your anguish, you will get answers to all your questions. You will know exactly why there had to be two of them. You will get to see them off. Insist on this. It will help you heal.

Plus! There is a payoff for your heartache, and it will be so sweet. Here, look:

I promise you, Lily. I promise you. These two are waiting for you. They will be the sweet, sweet reward for your hard work and for your trust.

You will be chasing these rainbows for the rest of your natural life, girl, so you might do well to start getting in shape now. This race is a marathon, not a sprint and if you try to run it like a sprint you are going to get worn out. Pace yourself. Fair warning: these scalawags are a double pocketful of sunshine and stormy skies. They are equal measures delightful and infuriating.

In conclusion

You need to stop making excuses for less-than-stellar health care providers. Don’t be angry that they have no tact or no bedside manner: just advocate for yourself. Don’t be afraid to change doctors. Get yourself a woman gynecologist, for heaven’s sake. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. Also: get used to writing pointed letters to hospitals, doctor’s offices, laboratories and pharmacies. They may laugh at you behind your back, but they won’t be able to ignore you. They may or may not change, but at least you advocated for yourself.

You are not toxic, Lily. Neither as a woman, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a patient, an employee, a colleague. You are not toxic. Do not let that diagnosis seep into your soul.

Listen to me, Lily: You are not toxic. You are Lily Fields: equal measures delightful and infuriating. The apples won’t fall far from the tree.

Mme Indulgent-Scalawags

PS: On the day of your wedding, when Dorothy, that old woman from down the street tells you “You have the roundness of youth,” please don’t be offended. When you turn forty and your skin starts to get thinner and more transparent, you will understand what she meant. It was intended as a compliment.

This article is part of a series called Letters to Twenty Year-Old Me
Part One: Dear Miss Fields
Part Two: Miss Fields Writes Back
Part Three: Listen to Me, Lily
Part Four: Are You Still There, Lily? (You are here)

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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