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.