Normalizing My Endometriosis Pain

For years, I was told by doctors that my period pain wasn’t real. Or, at least, that it wasn’t as bad as I claimed. To cope with the pain, I pretended it wasn’t there. I ignored it and tried to live my life as normal as possible, even during my periods. I had normalized the pain so well that by the time I met my husband, I never even told him about my horrible periods.

My secret pain

When I was finally diagnosed with endometriosis – four years after my husband and I got married – it was by accident. The OB/GYN who had performed the surgery asked me whether I ever had period pain. My husband was staggered to learn that I always had severe pain during my period. He felt betrayed, because I had never told him this. He is a very caring man and would have loved to pamper me during my periods. Because I ignored the pain and pretended everything was fine, I hadn't been honest with him.

Changing coping mechanisms is difficult. Even after the diagnosis, I found it very hard to tell my husband when I was in pain. It was almost as if I thought I could make it go away by just ignoring it. And in a way, I really didn’t want to be defined by my endometriosis. I didn’t want to admit that, for parts of the month, I couldn’t fully function like a normal person. It was as if I would give the endometriosis more power if I gave into the pain.

How endometriosis impacted my marriage

My husband felt shut out. He wanted to make a fuss over me – bringing me tea, tucking me in bed with a hot water bottle – and while that is of course lovely, I didn’t really know how to deal with that. I didn’t want to start acknowledging the pain. And I know this is going to sound weird, but I also didn’t want to share the pain. It was mine and I alone knew how to deal with it. I get that it’s difficult for a partner to stand idly by when you know your loved one is suffering, but I was never able to get to a place where I could admit the amount of pain I was in and have my husband take care of me.

Endometriosis became a topic we didn’t talk about much. It was always there, but not until it became so bad that I was forced to seek medical attention did we really acknowledge it. In hindsight, I wish I had done things differently. Some of it wasn’t my fault: being gaslighted about my level of pain for years made it hard for me to really open up about it. But after I was diagnosed, I could have let my husband in more, allow him to fuss over me. I should have allowed myself to be less strong and stoic. After all, the “strength” I displayed was hardly strength, just denial.

Endometriosis doesn't come with a handbook

Endometriosis doesn’t come with a handbook. Everyone will handle things differently, but it’s important to be open about our experiences. Not only with fellow endometriosis sufferers, but also – and more importantly – with our loved ones. They may not be able to take away the pain, but they could make the bad days a bit more bearable.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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