I haven’t even mentioned PMT, just wait until that rears its sometimes hideously ugly head. Oh the frustration of our partner not throwing away the used tea bags or the irritation that woman in the office who’s chair wheels squeak every time she moves!
Perhaps it feels deeper than that, a critical voice in your head that once a month begins to shout a little too loud that you are not worthy of this and are rubbish at that and don’t deserve, well, anything that might resemble happiness.
If any of this sounds familiar, welcome to what feels like a harsh menstrual world.
But, here’s a radical suggestion. Your period, in fact, your whole monthly cycle is not the enemy you might think it is.
How do I know this? Well read on.
The relationship I had with my own cycle up to only a couple of years ago, was, quite frankly one of pure hate, resentment, and the will for early menopause. Yes I was literally wishing my life away, anything so that I wouldn’t have to struggle through yet another month.
I would bleed for about 10 days, with 2 or 3 days of the kind of pain that could leave me momentarily blind. Often I would be unable to get out of bed, as I would regularly manage to squeeze in a few disabling migraines. They would strike indiscriminately before, during and/or after my bleed.
Premenstrually, I would feel so horribly unwell that most months l would be on the verge of passing out. My joints would be painful, breast pain was off the scale, and the rage was, well, just frightening. And the self talk, oh yes, that critic, she was always on her worst behaviour. The whole world was against me…again!
Who would have guessed that actually that womb from hell of mine, would end up being a bestie? A source of creativity, a source of intuition and a source of trust.
All I had to do was care for her and the cycle that she was central to.
First introductions to my womb were made during my Abdominal-Sacral Massage training and deepened in my Fertility Massage training. It turned out I was holding a whole load of trauma in her. Receiving massage treatments and allowing regular self massage, my cycle started to shift. Bleeds changed from brown and dark red sludge to a beautiful bright red flow; I was clearing healthily each month. But most gratefully, the pain eased.
So began my quest of self discovery. Over the last couple of years I’ve been educating myself, making changes and seeing significant, heart-skipping shifts.
The most radical change of all was deciding to commit to self-care.
After reading Alexandra Pope’s The Wild Genie, I knew I had to grab the opportunity to learn from the woman who spent 30 years developing a form of menstrual care that is both radical and hugely empowering. So I did, and I have learned that with care, kindness and most importantly, awareness, you can tap in to this source of menstrual creativity. Keeping a track of my cycle was a huge part of this, noting daily on a chart has allowed insight in to how I ebb and flow as I move from the winter of my bleed, to the spring of pre-ovulation, to the summer of ovulation, to the autumn of pre-menstrum, back to the winter of bleeding.
As I write this, it’s during the heaviest day of my period. I’m feeling pretty dreamy in mid-winter, but giving in to the feeling. Actually I am finding it hard to concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes, but it’s ok.
Look at that, no judgement or frustration, just kindness and understanding, and because of this, no pain. I haven’t pushed through.
I have invited my family to understand that I need to just “be” on this day and it’s made such a difference having them on board.
It’s about honouring each part of the cycle.
On Mothers Day this year I took my daughter to a one of my favourite crystal shops and we picked out a bracelet together that I wear only while I bleed.
I truly honour my cycle now and I chart to recognise when it’s necessary to show myself the most kindness. Long gone are the days where I was wishing for menopause. Instead at the age of nearly 45, I relish my final few years of bleeding, making the most of this gift until my time of transition.