I remember my first Pap smear like it was yesterday. Yes, I JUST WENT THERE. I can’t exactly forget my first experience with cold metal being shoved inside me by a stranger, but don’t worry–that’s as detailed as I will get about the actual Pap in this blog.
My gynecologist was a newbie, but I selected her because we both had the same last name and her dad was an English professor which, for some reason, intrigued me at the time.
She greeted me in her office, and I was nervous as H-E-double hockey sticks. But I followed her in, as I knew I needed to do it and just get it over with.
She was sweet and seemed to want to get my mind off the whole experience by talking about other things, like how she decided to become a doctor later in life and BLAH BLAH BLAH and I’m lying there, thinking, “please just get this over with,” and soon enough–it was finito.
I walked out of her office and remember feeling accomplished and proud of myself for getting through the experience. I called my soon-to-be husband at the time and said I wanted to celebrate surviving my first Pap smear by eating Mexican food.
I was so happy I had found a gynecologist I felt comfortable with in Arkansas… And then we moved to Kentucky.
In Kentucky, I had a horrible experience. My gynecologist there kept telling me to, “Relax. Just relax.”
Now I don’t know about you–but to this day, the word, relax, when used as a command, truly irritates me. It causes me to further tense up and do the opposite of what the commanding person desires. The gynecologist got so irritated with me, in fact, that she told me, “Honey, I don’t know how you’re going to birth a baby if you can’t even handle a Pap.”
(Thank you, lady, for your concern, but I handled it just fine. 👇)
(My daughter, when she was 2 months)
But back to the story.
When we moved to Madison, Wisconsin, I told my new gynecologist about my last unfortunate Pap experience, and she jokingly told me, while doing the smear: “Whatever you do, don’t relax.”
Which of course made me crack up. And also seemed to get me over my irrational fear of Pap smears once and for all.
Then, we moved back to Indiana, and I found a new gynecologist once again.
And as strange as it may sound, my gynecologist/obstetrician in Indiana has now become my friend.
We only see each other once a year now at my checkup. But she has seen me through many difficult moments–a miscarriage, a D&C, a high-risk pregnancy, and the C-Section birth of my daughter. She also saw me in her office after my divorce, crying fresh tears and telling her my sob story of how I was pretending to be happy for quite some time. This chick knows me.
So one day, about three years after my divorce, I was in her office for my annual physical and we were catching up. I told her about a guy I was seeing at the time who I really liked.
“I don’t know, though,” I told her. “I like him, but I’m not sure we are on the same page.”
“Well,” she said, “keep your standards high, you know.”
“I mean really, Emily. Keep your standards high,” she repeated, but this time looked at me right in the eye.
“Because you deserve it. You deserve so much in this world,” she continued.
And just like that, I teared up. Because my doctor was, like, speaking to my soul directly–as if she had a straight line of communication to my heart and knew what needed to be said.
Keep my standards high. I deserve it.
I got rid of that guy soon afterwards when he said something hurtful to me (which he had been doing all along, but it had taken me awhile to realize it).
But now, two years later, I’m still over here pondering that thought–that statement that my gynecologist made that struck a chord with me over two years ago and continues to strike a chord with me today. What does that mean? It’s so general, yet so specific for each one of us.
I cannot speak for you. But when I speak for myself, this is what comes to my mind when I think of keeping my standards high:
- Listening to my gut–not just feelings, because intuition goes beyond that. My gut is that little voice that keeps whispering truth to me. Like, “This doesn’t feel good,” or “Wow, I feel so peaceful.”
- Imagining my best life and how that looks and feels–and then eliminating whatever conflicts with that.
- Breeding positivity. Getting rid of sources of negativity.
- Thinking about what I want for my child–the person I love more than anyone in this world–and then applying that same standard for myself. 😳
- Not romanticizing men who have hurt me.
Keeping my standards high is, quite simply, self love. Because those are YOUR freaking standards. Those standards are what make YOU happy, and you deserve to be happy, my dear friend. You deserve to be happy and to love yourself enough to hold yourself accountable to achieving it.
And go sip a glass of champagne (unless you’re doing Whole 30 like me).