When I was in the seventh grade, a classmate of mine bled through her shorts and didn't realize it until there was enough blood to pool in her chair. She ran to the bathroom weeping, and although I don't remember her name, I would almost bet that the memory of that day stays with her all these years later.
I learned in that moment how horrifying, embarrassing and gross periods were.
And at that time, as a disgruntled late boomer, I was still almost two years away from starting my own. I was angry at my period two years before it even began. (Wtf is a late bloomer anyway? There is no time frame in life. Not for periods, school, marriage, babies, anything. Time frames are stupid.)
I can't speak for other cultures or other women, but until recently, I haven't really ever spent time with any woman who loves her period.
What's to love, right? The cramps, the bloating, shoving foreign objects in private places, the avoidance of all things white... the list goes on.
But this thought occurred to me yesterday: Healthy women have healthy periods.
Go have a quick chat with a woman trying to get pregnant who hasn't had a period in 18 months. She is praying for those menstrual cramps you've been bitching about.
In November, I started using a menstrual cup. I was sick of tampons, sick of the pink tax, sick of putting weird shit in my body. Plus, I was starting to believe that tampons were making my cramps worse, giving me yeast infections and just pissing off my reproductive system as a whole. (I was right, btw.)
This simple act of switching my personal hygiene product of choice has changed my entire relationship with my body, and especially with my period.
Let me say this loud and fucking clear: YOUR PERIOD IS NOT GROSS. Your body, and anything it does naturally, is not gross.
I have said for years that I never want children. I used to have a strong pattern of picking less than "father material" men in my past, and I think out of protection of my heart, I just declared I didn't want children. (Would have been easier to choose better men, but I'll save that one for another post.)
What I didn't realize was that in this declaration of not wanting children, I was neglecting my womb. This neglect, coupled with the cultural conditioning that "periods are gross" created a shitstorm in my mind and in my body.
Basically, I was at war with my own body. If you think one part of you is disgusting or wrong, that creates disharmony that ripples out into other areas of your relationship with yourself.
You can not love yourself completely if you still hate something about yourself. Even if it's your period.
Periods are a gift. They are a reminder that we are strong, healthy women capable of bringing life into this world. They serve as a reminder to slow down and rest, even if it's just once a month, to nurture yourself and love on yourself. They serve as an indicator of our health.
Change your relationship to your period and I guarantee your relationship with yourself and the rest of your body will change too.
You should love your body and everything it does. Learn to listen to whatever the body is trying to tell you. Instead of fighting the symptoms of your period, approach your cycle with love.
The only way we can ever change the cultural conditioning around a woman's period is if we change it within ourselves. We can't expect men or culture to change their beliefs around periods if we refuse to change our beliefs first.
Love (ALL OF) your body. You can do it.
I'm always game to chat more about this. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email if you want to go deeper.