Just over a month ago I wrote a blog post for MRKH Connect about my reflections on disclosure. This was following the first part of a Beautiful You MRKH (BYMRKH) webinar which brought together thought leaders, advocates and amazing MRKHers and their supporters from around the world. The event left me uplifted beyond belief and finally proud to part of this special community.
Last night the same organisers hosted Disclosure Part 2; a much more intimate and interactive experience designed to give MRKHers a safe space within to explore disclosure relative to their own context. Spoiler alert – I cried!
Many MRKHers will recognise only too well the rollercoaster of emotions that our condition can bring. Strong feelings and memories that may be associated with specific triggers, yet we can also be floored in sudden and unexpected ways that leave us confused and uncertain. Last night I wondered how I had gone from being so upbeat about MRKH just a few short weeks ago, to feeling tearful, fearful even, about what the syndrome means to me and the powerful impact it can still have on my life.
Let me explain what happened and share with you the meaning I am starting to make for myself about this turnaround in emotions. With lots of guidance, and careful instructions from the BYMRKH team, participants in the Disclosure Part 2 event were paired up in private online chat rooms to role play a scenario of each person’s choosing. For example, we could ask our partner to pretend to be a friend asking for a tampon, a romantic partner with whom we may wish to disclose MRKH (or at least the implications for PiV intercourse and children) or even a family acquaintance who just keeps asking “So when are you going to have kids?”
After some technical fumbling and an embarrassing few minutes of exchanging silent facial gestures (not quite the Zoom of Doom but I was starting to feel that way), my role play partner – Sarah – and I finally connected. I asked Sarah to pretend to be my mother-in-law and gave some background information to work with: that while I’ve known my in-laws for nearly 20 years and believe that they would have dearly loved grandchildren, they have no idea why they don’t have any.
They have never asked us the “Why?” or “When?” questions I know I dreaded in the earlier years of marriage. And for that I am hugely thankful to them. I’m sure they’ve wondered; I’m sure I would wonder if I were in their shoes.
I’ll be honest, I was afraid of being judged. That they would think I wasn’t good enough for their son, that I would be a disappointment, no longer acceptable, let alone worthy of being a positive choice of life partner. Not to mention being a talking point of the family. I am ashamed to say that I have no evidence whatsoever that they would have reacted in this way. But shame and fear are skilled at twisting your perspective of yourself and others.
So here I am, all these years after first meeting the people who became my in-laws, 11 years after marrying their son, and finally being more “out there” within my private MRKH family. Over the years I have had conversations in my head on-and-off about what I might say, how I might tell my parents-in-law why they don’t have grandchildren in their lives when practically all their contemporaries do. Last night was the first time I’ve ever tried out that conversation aloud.
I had no idea what I was going to say, both Sarah and I were literally feeling our way as we went. I was shocked by the power of my reaction, the tears that came when I said “We….or rather, I, can’t have children”. I don’t remember exactly what I said after that but I know I apologised. Not because I can’t have children but because I hadn’t disclosed sooner. I have a really good relationship with my in-laws but know that I’ve held back something of myself to avoid situations and conversations I may not have been ready to engage with.
My tears were partly for what might have been, but also of release. The role play with Sarah was just that – pretend – yet my emotional reaction was authentic and real. We played out a conversation I may never have and I’m OK with that.
I am truly touched by the willingness of a stranger to lead me down a path that brought up incredibly raw emotions and memories for me. And having taken me there, demonstrated a kindness and compassion that I will remember for a long time. Thank you Sarah.
Thanks for reading.