Standing United to be Heard as a Collective Voice as We Share Our Experiences

Written by Beth Tiner, Founder

August 3, 1999

 

 

Some Sans-Uteri participants are not feeling heard and their experiences surgical experiences are not being validated. Out in the world, women whose hysterectomy/oophorectomy experience has not resulted in improved health are met with:

"It must be in your head."

"You need counseling."

"None of my other patients has ever complained about that."

"All the women in my family had one and they were fine."

 

Online, those whose hysterectomy experience resulted in increased health are met with:

 

"Just you wait and see."

"That's impossible."

"I've listened to the experiences of hundreds of women damaged by this surgery so you must be mistaken."

 

When we don't feel heard and/or understood, we should:

  • Make absolute statements, like:

    "hysterectomy always results in this"

    or
    "hysterectomy never results in that"

  • RAISE OUR VOICE!
  • Threaten.
  • Repeat our position over and over and refuse to listen to anyone else.
  • Try to one-up each other:

    "I felt better after 8 weeks."
    "Well I felt better after 8 days!"
    "Well I felt better after 8 HOURS!!"

     

  • Judge: "You should have done this and should not have done that."
  • Defend our position.


I challenge all Sans-Uteri participants to remember that our goal is to provide a safe place for people to discuss the impact of hysterectomy on their lives. It is not to tell people how to make their decisions or what decisions to make. It is not to tell people how they should and should not feel. We exist to bring people together to share their thoughts and feelings, to encourage education and reflection. We are here to listen to people's experiences and say, "My thoughts and prayers are with you for increased/continued health."

I challenge everyone to remember the importance of making "I" statements. This means that instead of saying, "You should be taking this medication" I say, "I have taken this medication and it has helped with my _______" (fill in the blank). This way anyone who is interested can learn about medication (or therapies/ Doctors/whatever) I am trying and how it has influenced my health. I am simply sharing my experience without telling anyone what they should or should not be doing.

It is very possible for us to celebrate women's found health and to mourn others lost health, without belittling. We can support without having our own experience reduced to either a mistake or a matter of time. We can share without being called whiners or naive.

 

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My hope is that we each sit back after reading each digest and say:

"I had not thought about it in those terms."

or

"That is exactly what I've been feeling, how wonderful to know I'm not alone."

It is very easy to reflect on an experience that differs from yours, to reply and understand you to be saying __________ "(repeating in your own words what you understand the person to be saying), and to ask for confirmation ("Am I correct?"). THEN continue with, "Your email made me stop and think. I have had a different experience that I would like to share."

We can make up our minds to move away from the things that can divide us, like "positive" vs. "negative". We can decide to unite and say, "there are the wide variety of experiences hysterectomized women have, please share your experience because we want to learn from it." We can decide to make "I" statements and refuse to tell people what they should and should not do. We can also decide to stop referring to our experiences as positive or negative and just simply say: "my experience".

 

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Dear Sans-Uteri participants: I have so much to learn about the body and mind,
about health and illness . . . please help me to learn . . . please share your experience with Findings.net and the other members of Sans-Uteri.

Beth Tiner
Sans-Uteri Founder

Link to:  Beth's Journal Entry of September 15, 1994.

Link to:  Jennifer Russell's account of taking care of Beth after her surgery.

Link to:  Beth's HERS conference notes.


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