Getting My Period Has Always Been A Burden…Until Today

This is a piece of art I made in 2007.  It’s a years worth of used tampon stings and used teabag strings that I wove together.  I call it a  My Calendar because it goes month by month, marking my periods and tea drinking for the year.

I was sitting on the big stuffed chair at Mandy’s, talking to her before getting a massage.

I was telling her about the Open House and how much I was enjoying preparing for it.  Putting up photos and videos of the artist’s work, making banners and organizing the weekend.

I told her a theme of Women was rising in it.

There’s Belly Dancing and I Love My Belly Potholders.  Karen Heenan’s “Find Your Tribe” dolls.  There’s Barbara’s hats from the  Pussyhat Project ( a symbol  of solidarity for women’s rights), the House of Hearts Potholders and bags  and the traditional “women’s work” of Spinning, knitting, sewing and Batik.

And then, as our conversation was ending, I said “Oh, and I got my period this morning.”

“How perfect!” Mandy said excitedly.  “It fits right into all that’s happening.  Your connection to the earth, how grounded you are about the Open House, it’s part of the celebration.”

I was shocked by Mandy’s reaction.

Except for a few time when I worried I might be pregnant, I have never been anything but annoyed and put off by getting my period.  “Why?” I’ve recently lamented when the cramps and aches come, “do I still, at fifty-three,  need to get my period.  “I’ve never needed it,” I complain, “I never wanted to have children.”

I still remember when I first got my period thinking “oh shit,  now I can’t go swimming.” Because that’s what I believed when I was 13.  I never even told anyone I got it.  I used to stuff rolled up toilet paper in my underpants until I got the nerve and money to go the store and buy some pads.

I’ve only ever seen my period as a burden.

I sat  across from Mandy with my mouth hanging open stunned.  Had no one really ever said this to me before?  With all the reading about menopause and Goddesses and women,  had I really never read about this idea before?

Or had I just not been open to hearing it?

As Mandy talked about the  natural flow of blood and how it connected us to the earth mother Gaia,  how it is fertility itself,  everything she said rang true.  The ideas were familiar, but it was also as if I was hearing them for the first time.

I think they were abstract ideas that finally came home.  Maybe it  was Mandy’s enthusiasm, her genuine delight in the meaning of me getting my period at just this moment.  Somehow it became personal.  All these ideas were suddenly about me.

Why have we never spoken about this before I asked Mandy.  She shrugged her shoulders, she  too  was taught that menstruating was something disgusting to be ashamed of, but, unlike me, she hasn’t  believed it for a long time.

I lay on the massage table and Mandy placed her hands on the bottoms of my feet.  I felt the tears flowing down the sides of my face.  I sat up crying.  “Mandy,” I said, “this is why I still get my period.  It’s because I need to learn this, I needed to understand the real meaning behind it. If I stopped bleeding before now I wouldn’t have had to think about it.  It would have been lost to me.”

My brain is still struggling with this new idea. But as with learning to love my belly, I already feel different about what’s going on inside of my body.  I have an urge to take one of my bloody tampons into our woods  and bury it deep in the earth.  It would be a ritual to mark this shift in my new way of  understanding and connecting to Gaia.

And now, I also I feel like I have something else about myself to love.

9 thoughts on “Getting My Period Has Always Been A Burden…Until Today

  1. I agree with what you are saying about being grounded to the earth by having a menstrual flow, but having arrived at the other side, I realize that menopause gave me wings. I don’t have to count days, or think about the possibility of babies. My life is now my own.
    YIPPEE!

  2. What a thought-provoking post. I do believe, also that we’ve been conditioned to believe having a period is a bad thing – but truly how sacred it is to what makes us women, able to give life should we choose.

    Though I completely understand your wanting for this stage to be done as I felt that way four years ago. Like you, I didn’t want kids and I think about all those years and months of fear when I thought I could be pregnant.

    I would hardly wait for menopause, which came at age 50 for me. I do have to say I feel freer because of it and truly welcome this time in my life – though I’ve had some moments of realizing that I will never actually give birth to a child – which was interesting (and painful) for me to experience as I never thought I would in the way that I did.

    But I also know that this was the path I was meant to walk…and I’m grateful for the life I have.

    Thanks for writing about this as it just isn’t talked about too often and needs to be.

    XO
    Barbara

    1. Barbara, I too have wondered what it would actually feel like when I do stop menstruating. I expect some sadness as you said for never having had children even though I chose not to. I guess just that it was so final. I do plan to see my bleeding different now. Or perhaps now that I can, they will stop. Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. I love your Calendar piece very creative, several years before entering menopause I joined a Red Tent group it was such an interesting and creative group of women celebrating our women’s cycle. So much was discussed and discovered during those Circle gatherings you couldn’t help but feel a certain connection not only to Gaia but a real sisterhood or Tribe, as I entered menopause I continued on with the group though not as often as I would like. If you ever get the chance to visit a Red Tent group take it I think you would love it. Here is a link that includes a find a local group in your area or near about.
    http://www.redtentmovie.com/red_tents_near_you.html
    Who knows may be someday you will start your own Red Tent Group.

  4. This is such I blessed way to think of what used to be called “the curse”. Your friend Mandy always seems so grounded in your posts. I bled off and on from age 52-56! Have a spectacular Open House! Love, Cindy

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