A personal tale of a single word, and the taboos surrounding sex and death.
In the shadows of our families lie secrets and shame, deeply buried like the roots of a tree. These secrets act like venom, slowly poisoning our body, mind, and soul, distorting our very essence. We try to hide them, hoping they'll never surface, but they grow and grow until they become too overwhelming.
In the Soviet Union, there was a word that encapsulated this feeling perfectly - "shame". This word signified dirt, disgrace, and shame simultaneously, and it was also used to label the most intimate parts of our bodies. As children, we were told that a part of us is filthy and repugnant, and we should be ashamed of it.
Sex was a taboo, never spoken about in polite society. This topic was too shameful for open discussion. For those of us who grew up in such an atmosphere, it was a challenging era. We were left to navigate our sexual lives and understand our sexuality on our own. When things didn't go as planned, we were too embarrassed to talk about it, fearing judgment or rejection.
I remember discovering a problem with my testicle. I was horrified but didn't dare to tell my parents. Instead, I sought answers online and found a grim verdict - cancer. I was too terrified to act upon it, so I decided to wait until the pain became unbearable, then end my life. Using my allowance, I bought sleeping pills and pilfered tranquillizers from my mother, hoarding hundreds of tablets for the day when the pain would begin. For several years, from around 12 to 15, I lived with the conviction that I was slowly dying.
Once, after a workout, I went to the sauna with a friend aiming for medical school. He practically forced me to see doctors, suggesting it might not be cancer. Only after seeking medical help did I learn the truth - it was merely varicocele, a dilation of veins in the testicle, similar to what happens in the legs. By that time, it had almost reached its final stage, but we managed to perform two surgeries. I was fortunate, but not everyone is.
I am convinced that taboos surrounding discussions about sex, sexuality, and intimate body parts lead to much more serious societal problems. After all, self-rejection gives birth to the rejection of others. Over the years, growing and gaining momentum like an avalanche, this issue manifests itself through aggression, leading to violence. And now, groups of people are united by shared hatred and pain, ready to do anything to escape it. They find solace in extreme cruelty, and, as a climax, they wage wars, gathering armies of likeminded individuals, oblivious to the depth and true nature of suppressed sexuality issues.
This experience taught me the significance of candid communication. We must speak about sex without fear or shame and ask for help when needed. It begins with our families and continues through the information we consume from books, films, media, educational systems, and other social institutions. We must accept ourselves and each other as we were created, without judgment. Only then can we start healing the wounds of the past and move towards a brighter future. For only true love is unconditional, and only it has the power to transform the world.