At this point in my life, I can honestly state: it´s taboo being a woman. I never thought I´d ever say such a thing. All my life I´ve been working really hard to becoming a strong and independant woman who doesn´t need anyone´s help to solve her problems, proving over and over again a woman can do anything she wants to.
I´ve been pushing. I´ve been pulling. I´ve exhausted myself to achieve more – and better – than others. I´ve actually gone seriously ill several times in my life because of a too heavy workload, not allowing myself to rest since there´s always a never ending list of things to do.
Basically, I´ve been working in a very linear way. That´s what I was taught to do. To function as a dysfunctional man. There were no other options available. So every month that my period came, I did my best to ignore it and just keep going.
The pain in my back and my belly: Take painkillers!
The vulnerability: Get over yourself and cheer up! It´s just hormones.
In the past I learnt to ignore any of my symptoms, because – as I was taught – having your period doesn´t mean you´re ill. And according to my physical education teachers in the past (all male), menstruating was no excuse NOT to do sports. Actually, ”sports are great for you, especially when you´re having your period” – even if it feels like you´re bleeding to death.
No, menstruating is not an illness. I do agree on that one. And I know it´s different for all women (some suffer, others don´t). But it´s still a certain time every month, where deep stuff is taking place inside our systems. And we´ve been taught to go on like usual, like it wasn´t a big deal. But it is a big deal! And I don´t necessarily mean that in a negative way. I mean it in a way of being able to acknowledge the fact that every woman is representing and reproducing the cycle of creation, birth and death, every single month.
That should be honored. It should be celebrated. And it should be perfectly normal and encouraged to take a time out without having to feel weak or apologizing.
It took me thirty years to come to the conclusion that the days before my period and the first days of actual bleeding, the only thing I want is to stay at home, in my bed, sleep and be present in my body and in my emotions.
I´ve been able to respect that (more or less) due to the fact that I´m self employed and mainly work from home.
No, I´m not sick. No, I don´t feel weak. But I´m really vulnerable and I feel physically drained. Wouldn´t it be only natural to honor that?
Menstruation is a monthly thing we women have to deal with during more or less forty years of our lives. FORTY YEARS! Forty times thirteen moons – that´s a whole lot of bleeding I can tell you!
Some bleed little. Others feel like they´re bleeding to death. It doesn´t matter. The fact is, every time we bleed, it means dying a little. But we should just carry on as normal, like as if we were men (who never bleed). Why?
I´ve always been very upfront about menstruation. I talk about it like anyone can talk about a sore neck, because there is nothing to hide and nothing to feel ashamed of. But I realize people get uncomfortable. And I´ve never understood why.
I´m not sure whether it´s the blood in itself that grosses us out. Or if it´s the intensity of the emotional roller-coaster we have to ride on a monthly basis that makes us freak out.
I had spent quite some time thinking about this, when I recently realized that suddenly for me it´s no longer just a question about the taboos around cyclic female monthly bleeding. This issue is just taking on a whole different dimension, because I´m slowly moving into menopause. And that´s a whole different kind of cycle.
Intellectually I so welcome this! It´s the beginning of the end of monthly bleeding. But it´s also the beginning of an entirely new phase of my life. I´ve gone from being the Maiden, to embracing the Mother – and I´m now moving into the Crone. I love it! I want to celebrate it!
But physically and emotionally I´m experiencing some challenging times. And very few seem open to talk about it.
My cycle has gone nuts. A regular 28 days went into a three week long bleeding, then turned into 26, 27, 30, 28 – and suddenly dropped to 24 and now 21. Helloooo!!! I feel cheated on my blood-free time here!
And almost every time I think I´m going to bleed to death. There are times when I can´t leave my home because I need to stay really close to a bathroom.
And since my cycle has gone bananas, there´s no way I can predict when my premenstrual tensions will kick in. So I honestly have no clue why the hell I suddenly feel so friggin´sad and depressed it seems pointless to live.
In all my glorious vulnerability my usual self helping tools are useless. Nothing seems to work. And who wants to be near someone who´s having an emotional breakdown on a regular basis? I don´t know how to handle me – so who else would?
And then there is the rage. Oh this rage! I had no idea it even existed in me. It´s pure violence combined with raw power. It feels like having a dormant volcano inside, that suddenly awakens and explodes – for no obvious reason.
Suddenly it´s there, and there´s no way to control it. I swear I feel like throwing things (already did), overturning tables and chairs (have almost done that, but luckily the table was made out of stone so there wasn´t even a point in trying), beating up someone up with a bat (I promise I´ll never buy one) or actually kicking in someone´s face (I´m a terrible kicker so I trust it won´t happen).
Nowadays when my period is approaching, it´s like a tsunami is taking over my life. It throws me up in the air, tosses me around, comes crushing down on me and completely knocks me over.
Living in a surfer town, I do watch those giant waves with awe and I understand that it´s really a great metaphor. But that means I should be able to ride those waves too.
I´m not ill. I don´t want medication. I don´t want extra hormones. I just wish there were more women willing to talk about this and share how they pulled through. There must be ways. But since it seems we´ve all been taught that it all comes down to us being dysfunctional men, it means we´ve learnt to ignore and suppress our cyclic nature making it taboo to even talk about this. Women don´t want to, and men – they seem to panic and run! I don´t blame them.
So ladies: I´m opening up the conversation here. I want to talk about our female cyclic nature, how to learn how to live with it, respect it and honor it without being called weak and emotional, or made fun of. We need comprehension, compassion and loads of empathy instead.
And for you men that know me: when you see me react emotionally or turn into a furious volcano without any warning or obvious reason, just throw some chocolates at me and then ask if it´s okay to hug me. That would be a very respectful way of honoring my transition into a new phase of womanhood.