Every woman’s body is different, and therefore, every woman’s period is different. I have a twin sister and our periods could not be more different. Granted, she is my fraternal twin, so we are not exactly alike. But even though we are not identical twins, we still share LOTS of genes together. And our periods are like night and day. Her period is in fact so awful, that for most of her life, it threatened her well-being and sanity on a monthly basis. I’m sure many women can relate. She has recently removed certain period-initiating organs, and is just now starting to settle into a never-known peace. I’m so happy for her and can’t wait to see how her new suffering-free life unfolds. However, I still menstruate, and I’m only just now attempting to make peace with my period.
I feel a bit embarrassed to say that it took me until age 41 to begin reading Cunt by Inga Muscio. Better late than never I suppose, and I really always have been a late bloomer. This post is definitely inspired by this book.
Only since this blog began have I really begun to explore my own power as a female. As a girl and a young woman, sadly, my power was a thing I always tried to conceal. I learned really early on that the world and other people really don’t like when a female human being displays any form of power. And I fundamentally understood that if I were to survive in this world, I needed people to like me. So, I tried to muffle my power (I wasn’t very good at muffling actually, but I tried). Thankfully, Inga’s book is a beautiful token placed in the world by The Goddesses that gives women permission to be powerful.
Check out my article, THE WORLD IS PETRIFIED OF STRONG FEMALES.
DISEMPOWERING WORDS LEAVE SCARS
In the book, Inga describes a film she saw in grade school, intended to educate her and her fellow females about their impending periods.
“A cartoon of the female form demonstrated how this dot in your head travels down to your cunt and makes you bleed. The doctorly-sounding male narrator insisted that we not take baths or exercise during this ‘special time’ but should be sure to keep spotlessly clean with lots and lots of soap and showers because menstruating girls tend to stink up the room if they’re not completely at one with personal hygiene. He also informed us that any pain or discomfort we might feel resided ‘in our heads’ and had been collectively imagined by womankind for thousands of years.”— Inga Muscio
There are so many things I feel and want to say about the above quote. But I really don’t want to get into politics, much-called-for patriarchy bashing, or anything of the sort. I don’t really have any problem with going there, I’m just not really in the mood right now. I also just don’t feel like getting fired up and angry. And I will get 100% angry if I really start getting into it. However, I think it’s important to share this quote so the world knows what young girls are told to believe about themselves and their bodies. Luckily, I don’t think this terrible kind of thing is shown to young girls any more (gosh, is it?!). But still, this wasn’t that long ago. And even if our mothers received this kind of information, those subconscious messages were passed down to us.
DISEMPOWERING MESSAGES CONVINCE US WE SUCK
Not only are films like these terribly destructive, but so are other messages that we as women deal with every day. Inga points out the fact that even the word “sanitary” and “hygiene” are included in almost all feminine product packaging. The undeniable message received is that “Periods and our vaginas are super gross.” The name of the damn “feminine hygiene” aisle in the store often makes us feel dirty, ashamed, and embarrassed for even being there.
I’m sure many women have realized this and have been angered by this for years. However, some ignorant women like me have never really questioned this status quo. I have just been living the last 41 years of my life (29 period years) just caving in on myself in shame about my period and not knowing why.
I do believe I am one of the luckier women when it comes to period suffering. For the most part, my period usually comes on time (it’s a good idea to utilize a menstrual calendar if you don’t already). I don’t have terrible cramping, nausea, fainting, or vomiting, as some women do. But I do have some stuff.
STUFF I DEAL WITH EVERY MONTH, OTHER THAN THE OBLIGATORY BLOOD MANAGEMENT
- I have emotional tornadoes a week or so before my period. I become ultra-sensitive, sometimes angry, sometimes raw, sometimes depressed, have no sense of humor, and in general, am incredibly and unpredictably emotionally fragile.
- Period headaches, ugh. As soon as I start bleeding, I carry with me a mild tension headache for the full week or so of my period. Advil helps sometimes, sometimes not. And my recent experiences with acupuncture have actually really been helping. (Listen to my podcast episode on Spotify, Apple, Stitcher, or Google where I discuss acupuncture, sleep and hemorrhoids.)
- Aversion to exercise. I know they say that when you have your period, it’s healthy to exercise. But when I exert lots of energy during menstruation, I get really weakened and feel extra terrible.
See, it’s really not all that bad, and I really can’t complain. Still, I absolutely have an overall sense of negativity with regards to all of this. And I really haven’t made peace with my period yet, as this article title indicates. Right now, it still feels good to complain about it. But I think there is something to reframing how we see our bodies and our cycles, as Inga points out in her book. And so, I suppose I’m starting the journey of trying to make a commitment to this idea of adjusting my perspective about my P.
OBVIOUS BUT WORTH-MENTIONING REASONS WHY PERIODS ARE MAGICAL
I have truly always been fascinated with the connection between menstruation and the moon. Sometimes I mention it to my partner, but he doesn’t seem as wowed as I want him to be. Maybe he takes it for granted. Or maybe he really just doesn’t see the amazing connection. More than likely, whenever I tell him, he’s watching sports, or driving, or reading, or doing something that does not command my complete attention. And I suppose in general, men don’t LOVE to hear about our periods. I do know he cares. But whether or not he does or doesn’t, I care! It’s fucking amazing. Women are disciples of the moon.
Again, I know this is not new information. But I’m still enthralled every time I think about it. Maybe because it feels like something that no one can take away from a woman. No one can deny the fact that our cycles and the moon cycles last for the exact same rando time of 28 days (give or take). It’s one of those things that men can’t accuse us of “imagining in our heads.” There is substance here, and it calls for never-ending examination. It’s ANCIENT truth that we continue to embody in our modern day lives.
So yeah, the magic of life and all of that. I know I sound like I’m dismissing this one, but honestly, it’s the opposite. It’s so big and beautiful and magical to me, that I often struggle to embrace it. And really, it comes down to the fact that I’m 41, I would love to become pregnant, and I am not yet. And I am not trying yet. Because again, I bloomed late in life. And it took me until just a few years ago to find love. So all things in due time. It’s on the agenda, but not the current timeline. So, I must wait. And hope. And try not to worry.
I pray to the goddesses and to the moon all of the time. I pray for the gift of fertility and healthy pregnancy when the stars have aligned and the time is right. But until then, I can’t even speculate on the immensity of the phenomenon of conception, pregnancy, and childbirth. It’s just amazing, and I hope to experience it someday.
Inga also talks about all of the ways in which we should celebrate our periods, in order to reframe our perspectives. She even proposes that our reframing can actually even alter and improve our physical symptoms and sufferings. This idea alone is enough for me to try giving this a whirl.
Her friends and the women in her life have various ways of celebrating their periods every month. Granted, some of the things she describes makes it sound like these women have nothing better to do all day than sit around and snuggle with each other in red blankets, eating red velvet cake and massaging each other. Nothing against Inga, but we are not all so lucky. We have jobs and obligations and most of us must face the world in a hardcore way, even if we’re bleeding, and cramping, and puking.
Still, she did encourage her readers to come up with whatever way works best for them to celebrate their periods each month. And since I’m an artist, this is what felt right…
Because I’m so fascinated by the moon-menses relationship, I wanted to do something to honor this pairing. I intend to create an illustration (small, not spending too much time on it, keeping it light) of the moon each month. Wherever the moon is at on the first day of my period, will dictate the shape and color of the illustration. I have a moon app that tells me the percentage of the moon’s fullness in any given moment. I will include this and the date in each illustration. The rest is decided by my heart and mind in the moment of creation.
Since I am just beginning this journey, I can’t share on how far I’ve come, but I will keep you posted.
How do you feel about your period? Do you do anything to honor or celebrate your body when your period arrives? What symptoms do you struggle with? How have you found relief?
I can’t wait to hear from you!
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Featured photo by Deon Black on Unsplash
Moon Photo by Jordan Steranka on Unsplash