HOW IT FEELS TO HAVE TO SEE THE DOCTOR WHO STIGMATIZED AND SHAMED YOU, 5 YEARS LATER
I've never shared this experience in a public forum, but I have seen what a wonderful and supportive community li.st can be, so tonight I have decided to make myself vulnerable, and put myself out there.
- •Five years ago I had an abortion.A SAFE AND LEGAL PROCEDURE here in Canada and a decision I 100% stand by.
- •I went to a walk in clinic for a follow up exam to make sure all was well and I will never forget the experience I had with this doctor.
- •I was 19 years old, had just made a major medical decision that impacted my life in a huge way. I was young and vulnerable and having a hard time processing my complex emotions.
- •His first question upon hearing why I was there was "have you told anyone?"he didn't ask anything medical, if I had cause to believe there might be complications etc.
- •When I told him yes, that my best friend was aware, he visibly frowned and to this day I will never forget his words. He said "well do me a favour, NEVER TELL ANYONE ELSE." Then he went on to tell me about the dire consequences of anyone knowing of my abortion, and how it would be best for me to pretend it had never happened.I sincerely hope I do not have to waste space here going in depth into how wrong that statement was (for so many reasons).
- •I was shocked for a minute and couldn't even respond, and then I was hit with the immediate need to get out of there. I told him I did not want to go through with an exam and walked out.
- •I've never been able to shake this experience. It deeply affected me, and in hindsight it pains me to see the ways I internalized this message even though I knew it was wrong.
- •Even though I was deeply disturbed and affected by this experience with the Doctor, it never even crossed my mind to file a complaint with the clinic.Goes to show, years of learning that doctors are experts with all the power still has a hold on you even when you are faced with something so blatantly wrong and harmful.
- •I recently returned to the clinic to get a prescription for antibiotics. In the 5 years since this incident I have never seen this doctor again. And then as I'm going up to the desk, I see him in the back hallway. I stopped speaking. I didn't know what to do.As it is small a walk in clinic, there was only one doctor on duty. I knew it would be fastest and easiest just to stay, get my meds, and go, rather than drive across town to another clinic and have to wait there too. So I decided to stay and see the doctor.
- •Sitting in the waiting room I was getting so anxious I was finding it hard to breathe. I kept playing my past experience over and over in my head and feeling small and vulnerable and inferior in every way all over again, just as I had felt sitting in that office at 19 years old.
- •Finally my anxiety clicked into anger. I began obsessively playing over in my mind how I was going to confront him after I obtained my prescription.How I was going to ask him how he could possibly use his position of authority and influence to shame and silence young women at their most vulnerable. How I was going to ask him if he knew that one sentence he said to me 5 years ago could leave me trembling with anxiety in the waiting room of his office.
- •The moment came. He walked into the room smiling. Greeted me warmly. Asked many thoughtful questions and was helpful, clear, and concise. I looked in his face and realized this was not the same doctor.
- •And I was so relieved I started to tear up. And it made me feel I needed to write this list and release this pain I've been feeling about that moment.
- •Maybe no one will see this list, but I have decided this man no longer has any influence on me. I refuse to carry the weight and the consequence of his words any longer. I refuse to be fearful and scared of a man who felt his role in this world was to tell me what I could and could not do with my body, and with my own thoughts and feelings.
- •Tonight I'm choosing to let go.