I’m big on plans and lists. I like to plot out my day the night before. I plan my meals a week at a time. While my house is often a mess or I’m behind on chores, I have my ways of staying comfortably organized. However, for the last two weeks, nothing in life has gone as planned. My “simple procedure” to help ease the misery of repeat infections, excessive bleeding and other menstrual-related pain managed to amplify all of those problems to the point that I have had to make some tough decisions about my status as a woman with a uterus.

Organs are fascinating to me. You can lose a kidney and it doesn’t define you. But a uterus? That is an essential part of a woman’s experience of identity. Obviously, a heart is necessary, but getting a transplant doesn’t change who you are. Having your appendix out doesn’t alter you in the eyes of community. But removing organs related to sexuality or fertility is a different story. I have had several friends experience uterus-related crises: miscarriages, traumatic birth, lack of pregnancy, scarring, hysterectomy, and more. Each time, I have stopped to connect with their pain, to empathize with their struggles to see themselves as “full” or “complete” women when the organs of their gender have betrayed them.

I am done with my uterus, whether I keep it or not. I do not feel it defines me. I am grateful for the children it carried, but even in health, my relationship with this organ has been fitful.

Really, this post is not about me. This post is for those of you I have grieved with when your body performed in an unwanted way. There is a poem here. Writing it granted me catharsis. Maybe the friend I wrote it for will see it here and remember how we were angry and hurt together. How we shook our fists, but how we found hope enough again to move onward.


Dear Mr. Merciful

Forget the constructs.
Let’s both shout curses
Wave our middle fingers at God.
Yeah! Take that, Mr. All Mighty.
You messed with the wrong bitches!
Suck it up, Big Man in the Sky.
You don’t own us. You don’t even know us.
You fat-headed-ego-driven-cloud-humping-hope-vacuum.
You suck!

You you you. Always You. You suck!

Let’s do it.
Let’s rend our pillows and fling them at God.
Let’s run amok, drink ‘til we’re sloppy with these unshed tears, cry out
until our voices give.
God, you stupid

Take that, Mr. Merciful.
You can keep your fancy heaven.
No doubt your glorious palace is full to bursting.
Keep collecting, Garbage Man.
We don’t need all that noise.
You want to break us until we’re convinced, but you won’t.
No matter how many lives you leave unfinished. . .

You won’t.
You. Will. Not.
Take that.

We’re better off without you.

Shawna Ayoub

Shawna Ayoub is an essayist, fiction writer, poet and instructor with an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. Some of her work has been published in The Manifest-Station, Role Reboot, [wherever], The Huffington Post, The Oxford Review and Exit 7. Her writing explores the intersections of race, place and survivorship. She writes with honesty about her own experience in order to transform pain.

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