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November 23, 2014

A Period of Gratitude.

period, cramps, menstruation

I’m 40 years old and this week I got my period for the first time in 13 years.

It has been the best week of my life.

13 years ago, I was planning a wedding, running marathons, and working a fancy marketing job in the Silicon Valley. When my period slipped away, I assumed it was due to stress. Terrified of getting pregnant early in my career, I didn’t mind that it was on hiatus.

But a few months turned into a few years.

I started to worry.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted kids, but I at least wanted the choice. I felt so disconnected from my body.

Over the next 10 years, I sought help from as many medical professionals and healers as I could find—gynecologists, endocrinologists, naturopaths, homeopathic practitioners, acupuncturists, massage therapists, hypnotherapists, astrologers and Reiki masters. I did everything that was recommended: I gained weight, lost weight, practiced yoga, ate meat, stopped running, got mychakras in order, went vegan, cleansed, rotated seeds, balanced my thyroid, recited mantras, took hormone pills, quit a stressful job, sought counseling and became a yoga teacher.

But nothing came. Not a drop.

All the tests showed I was “normal.” I was not pre-menopausal. Things looked right, medically. But something important just wasn’t clicking. I sought help from one of the most highly rated fertility specialists in the country thinking that she would know the missing link. Instead, she informed me that my pituitary gland was “likely dead” and I would “never menstruate again.”

I didn’t go back to that doctor.

Instead, I tried to move on. I kept living my life. My husband and decided we were fine not having our own children. But I still felt stuck. Years passed.

About seven months ago I started meditating. Twenty minutes, twice a day. Sometimes I would just sit and cry. Sometimes I felt like I might drown in my own anxiety. I didn’t know where this emotion was this coming from and it didn’t matter. I continued to sit. And breathe. And allow whatever it was to come up and out.

I started to let go.

My meditation practice started to affect my yoga practice. I was more present and re-discovered the nuances of poses that my mind had turned into habitual exercises. I discovered the joy of restorative yoga and longer savasanas.

My body was healing.

The effects were showing up in other parts of my life. I found myself relaxing more and pushing less. I began cooking my own meals instead of relying on something quick, easy and “healthy” from Whole Foods. I started to eat at the table across from my husband instead of across from a computer screen or sitting in my car. I heard myself saying “no” to things that made me feel miserable and “yes” to things that made me curious and excited and maybe even a little scared.

I could feel my intuition getting stronger. I found myself in synchronistic situations meeting the right people at the right time. I was particularly drawn to a reflexologist who gave me the best treatment of my life. While on her massage table I saw light coursing through me where before I only saw black.

She offered me some sage advice, “You are not bound to anything as it was before. Write yourself a new narrative.”

I took this to heart. But at first, I was thinking more of my emotional and professional life and not necessarily my physical body. This was three weeks ago.

So earlier this week when I woke with a functioning menstrual cycle I was shocked and elated. I felt like it was my birthday. I had to remember how to use a tampon.

The world felt new and I felt alive and part of the Earth for the first time in a long time. Nature was doing her thing and I was willing to let her—oh, how I was willing! I rejoiced in the pain of my cramps and the tenderness of my breasts. I bought pink coconut water in celebration and felt like a modern version of Wonder Woman as I floated across Los Angeles tired, bloated and happy.

Anything is possible. I feel this very deeply now. I am grateful for so many things this holiday season but most of all I am grateful to simply be a woman with her period, full of possibility.

 

 

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Author: Jennifer Brian

Editor: Emma Ruffin

Photo: Esther Simpson/Flickr

 

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Jennifer Brian

Jennifer Brian is an LA based yogi, actress, and hand model obsessed with sunshine, long walks with her dog and home-made kitchari.