Every month, or more accurately every 28 days my period reminds of how helpless, yet strong I am—have to be.
Warning: This is a lady focused article.
Helpless because I do not want it, I do not like it, I do not want to go through those five days.
I even catch myself in wishful thinking that something magical will happen this month that I will not get it. But I can’t do much about it, because it does come. Yet I feel strong because I forcefully have to make a stop in my activities and slow down to zero, just to be mindful enough to hang in there and keep myself together.
That is a brave thing to do.
Even though my favorite subject in life is science, I have never been able to really understand the menstrual cycle fully because it happens to me. That’s my relationship with science. As long as it’s an external thing to understand and study, it’s great, it’s perfect logic and it is what should be. However, when that thing is happening to people, to me, it gets mythical and quite frankly ridiculous.
I know the fertility process, but still…
Couldn’t there be a similar one which was less dramatic and painful?
I mean blood, thick and red. What can be more dramatic than bleeding? It’s life itself flowing out of me. Why? I need that life, I crave that iron and B12 complex. I want it to do stuff. I feel it is not like me to bleed. I feel it is not like me not to be able to control it, to control myself in it, and the pain, and the fog my mind enters.
It makes no sense.
How am I expected to fulfill my purpose when I am hindered like that? Such are the questions and thoughts that circle my mind when I’m hallucinating and losing in bed.
To most women I know, having their period causes barely anything to be different in their days at all—lucky them.
To me it is a full stop, internal catastrophe.
Maybe people will not notice it because I usually creep away into my room and avoid doing anything except laying under my covers in fetus pose, trying to keep my gut warm, drinking tea and feeling less miserable. But hell, I notice it.
Especially the first day of my period because my mind is still on rush mode: I have training to do, classes to prepare, classes to give, data analyses to complete, grocery shopping, writing, studying, a social life—I want to do all of it. But, cramp pain takes so much energy. I’d say 98% of my energy escapes me when I have to stay near a bathroom in case I feel stomach sick, and my mind is so cloudy.
That first day is my weakest day.
With less pain in my abdomen and lower back, I feel like I have a hangover with just some sensations remaining. By the second day I am not falling from my mind anymore, ripped from my imaginary activities that I wish I was doing, or which I think I should be doing, but rather I am looking up from the bottom.
Having accepted what is happening to me, I understand I have no control: a small, small change in my body and my whole world changes, I change. I think of all people who are sick and their body and mind is not functioning 100%. I think of people in the hospital, or being cared for at home by a nurse, or are just impaired by a simple flu, headache, or something heavier like cancer.
I know I am no different; I am just as frail and my world can be turned upside down at any moment really.
At this point I am not trying to understand pain or bleeding nor asking myself why this happens to me. I am instead thinking, “Why not? Others go through it every day. I am no different.”
As if I was from a different kind or kingdom, I make adjustments in my mind, body and life.
With my energy up at 50%, I know the physical discomfort is there but at least my mind is working and I do not have to be crouching. I eat more consciously because I do not want to upset my stomach. I feel thankful for little messages from my friends, for my mom getting a warm piece of cloth to put on my belly and dad understanding why I am being quiet.
I spend a lot of time reading articles, or listening to Mindfulness podcasts and TED talks. That’s all I can do—fill my mind and body with wisdom and health because at this point I cannot give that much.
I cannot be or feel productive.
There is wisdom in not giving.
This is not a time to give, this is a time to fill up, grow a little inside, rest, see my frailness, think of others who go through pain and can do nothing about it. There is immense strength in accepting and making peace with willfully saying “Yes, OK, I am owning this happening to me”, and replacing “Why?” for “Why not? I’ll take it. I’ll live with it.”
I then feel so peaceful.
I wish I had this peace and clarity when I am healthy and full-on working. I feel fully human, and it feels more of who I am than I feel when I am fulfilling what I think I should be.
I am being, and being the best way I can do that: be.
During these moments I am tempted to think this is the whole point of sickness, of menstrual cramps and of discomfort and tragedy happening to us.
At least to me, this is the absolute, only once a month time I am forced to not do anything even though I want to do it all. I do not owe anything to anyone but to myself; that something overpowers me and I have to learn to live with it, over again.
I never get used to it.
The last three days the pain and fog fall dramatically.
Having anything more than 50% of my energy, I consider I’m winning. I can do most of my activities, just in a slower, more attentive, maybe careful, modified way. I kind of want to stay in this place, living slowly and mindfully, without having to rush towards deadlines and expectations. It feels good to live more for myself, and to think from this empathic, accepting, almost frail, almost strong body and mind.
This is how my energetic, spiritual, emotional and physical body is one.
After this, I slowly peak into health again—with all its ups and downs, insomnia, laziness, hyperactivity, feeling hungry, feeling full. Then I feel like those days of my period are so far away, almost incredible to think I was in so much pain. It seems like a story I told myself, like a dream that will not happen again.
But it does.
It happens again, and again, and again.
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Apprentice Editor: Alicia Wozniak/Editor: Catherine Monkman