Don't feel bad. My vagina hates me, too.
I'm a terrible friend.
I've known Suzy all my life. She's the one friend who's always been with me. She may be my best friend. Yet, over the years, I've taken Suzy for granted. If anyone treated me the way I've treated her, I'd give them the big kiss off.
But Suzy doesn't have the option to leave me. She'll always be with me. You see, Suzy's my vagina.
Why do I call her Suzy? Why not Suzy? I like it better than va-jay-jay or lady bits, and I'm not referring to a part of myself as the c-word. Suzy is discreet. I can talk about her in public like what she is: a part of my everyday life.
Suzy has shared every moment of my life and has introduced me to moments of toe-curling, explosive pleasure. I remember those tingles that grew to throbs when I first realized, almost four decades ago, that touching Suzy felt great for both of us.
Happy Suzy = happy me, and I was glad to keep Suzy happy every chance I got, despite what I was taught at Catholic school: that God was watching. To hell with black marks on the soul and eternal damnation! Suzy and I enjoyed what felt like heaven on earth.
Suzy has never asked for anything beyond basic needs: keep her clean, clear of harmful or disagreeable objects, and treat her with respect. Yet I've failed consistently to deliver.
I've given Suzy bad haircuts. Styles I would never wear on my head, I've inflicted upon Suzy. The faux-hawk. A heart. A three-leaf clover. The Brazilian would never fly with any other friend. "OK Jen, hold real still while I apply this hot wax to your head, then rip out your hair in strips. Let me get in your nostrils, too. Every last bit of hair on your head. Really. You'll look great. You'll love it."
I've dressed Suzy in outfits I wouldn't make a dog wear in public. She's worn itchy thongs, sequined g-strings, fringed boy shorts (yee-haw) and a red holiday thong with "Spicy" printed on the front (presumably because "Naughty" couldn't be printed large enough to be legible on two-inches of fabric).
A white coat or scrubs and a pair of blue vinyl gloves are all it has taken to let strangers probe, scan, and finger Suzy. I've also allowed non-medical individuals get into Suzy, and I should have required some of those amateurs to wear gloves.
The super-hot guy on my college crew team who also bit his nails down to nubs? I would never let his fingers near my mouth nor touch my food, but hey, he was free to insert them in Suzy!
Suzy's been stuffed with feminine products (tampons, menstrual cups), speculums (plastic and metal, not always warmed), vegetables (cucumbers, ears of corn), lubricants I wouldn't say the names of out loud (Warm & Tingle, Super Slide), and toys (a storm trooper action figure. Don't ask: I was nine years old. Though the trooper was a servant of the Evil Empire, the helmet was sleeker and more probe-friendly than Lando Calrissian's head, and I was curious how much exploration the trooper could accomplish).
Despite all the indignities, Suzy's continued to do what she does: keeping me happy, silently, without a word of complaint. The haircuts, produce, and chewed-up fingers are embarrassing, but Suzy can't use words. She's a vagina. I can use words and I'm most ashamed of the times I chose not to use them.
There have been too many times when I should have said, "No" or, "Don't talk to me like I'm stupid" or, "Don't touch me when you're drunk" or, "Pack up your things and get out of the home I'm paying for." But instead of saying, "Be nice to me or there's no playing with Suzy," I offered up Suzy.
It seemed easier to give up Suzy than risk being rejected or the target of anger or being alone. I relied on Suzy to get a message across but it was not the one I wanted. Instead of seeming tough, my silence screamed what I was most afraid of saying: "Don't leave me" or "I don't deserve better than this" or "I'm scared to be alone."
I haven't protected Suzy or spoken up for her, and she's never said a word. She never will. I'm the one who needs to use my words and say, "No" so that neither of us gets treated like we don't deserve respect. I need to be the good friend who speaks up for both of us because silence was never easier.
When Suzy got treated badly, I still felt angry, scared and alone. I felt worse for violating Suzy's basic rules: keep her clean, free of harm and harmful objects, and treat her like the tender treasure she is. Without words, Suzy has shown me that treating her, my BFF, my true most vulnerable self, badly was not the road to happiness. It's the path that's led me here: in my mid-40s, learning how to be a good friend.
Suzy deserves better. So do I.