(Part 1 of 2)
Do you remember the first time you got it?
I sure do.
It was 8th grade.
A stitch had pierced my stomach in art class and then a nauseous feeling had come over me. I chalked it up to nerves since I was going to be presenting a book report later in English class.
I was wearing light blue sweats with the ankle elastic twisted to the side (hip 80’s style at its best) I thought I was killing it giving my report as I sat in front of the class legs wide open tomboy style. My classmates giggled and whispered as I spoke, which obviously meant I hit the mark with the funny metaphors in my report.
After class, I rushed to the bathroom with an unfamiliar feeling down there only to discover a bright red stain seeping through the crotch of my sweatpants.
Oh, the horror! Oh, the shame!
“I will never recover from this!” I thought.
And then unexpectedly I was thrust into the world of cramps, pimples, rude facial hairs, booblets– and morphing into a moody teenagasaur riding a cotton pony. All of that compounded with being the period pants girl.
“We have to move,” I pleaded with my Mom, “It's the only solution.”
The first time I tried a tampon was taught to me by my camp counselor.
She explained through the cabin door to prop my foot upon the toilet seat and shoot the cotton bullet at an angle which I did– but never removed the applicator.
I distinctly remember walking bow-legged into the cafeteria after my failed attempt at getting it all the way in, but thought that was how it was supposed to feel.
Nothing much was taught to me about my period, my cycle, or my hormones. There was no wise healer who told me exactly what I needed to do to have a healthy partnership with my body. Instead, my period was made to feel like a burden. It was messy, unruly, shameful, and would cause me a lifetime of pain and suffering.
And with that mindset, it has played out just like that most of my life.
What if someone had taught me how to understand my body at an early age and educated me on how to make changes to my diet and lifestyle in order to impact my cycle? It would have been the gift of a lifetime to learn how I could honor being a woman and how to tap into the power of my intuitive feminine energy. Instead, I blocked it, avoided it, numbed it, shamed it, dreaded it, or joked about it.
As a teenager, my friends and I would just complain we were “on the rag” or “Aunt Flo was visiting" and avoided finding healthy solutions or talking about it openly or honestly. Unfortunately, this denial and embarrassment of female menstrual health has been happening since the beginning of time.
A few facts: The word “period” is rooted in the Greek words “peri” and “hodos” which translates to “around” and “way/path.” This transitioned into the Latin word “periodus,” meaning recurring cycle.
The English word “period” wasn’t actually used until the early 1800s and often it was referred to as “them” or “those” since it was taboo to even talk about it.
This has continued through the centuries and across the globe. It is hard to find a society, a religion, or a part of the world that does not find some way to make women feel dirty, guilty, unworthy, or even dangerous because of their monthly cycle. In Denmark, one of the common phrases for your period is, “there are communists in the funhouse.” In Finland, people refer to their time of the month as “mad cow disease.”
There are also tons of misconceptions around the world about being on your period. Here are a few global myths related to menstruation:
· Can’t take a bath or swim in a pool
· Don’t go camping because the bears can smell the blood
· Having sex will kill your partner
· Can’t touch flowers because they’ll die quicker
· Must be exiled to huts during menstruation since they are considered unclean
· Can’t attend school or touch their parents
· Can’t enter a kitchen or cook food for anyone else
· Can’t enter a place of worship
· Can’t paint their nails, wash their hair or drink lemonade
· Wash their face with the first menstrual blood to have clear skin
· Dough won’t rise if touched by a menstruating woman
· Can’t touch plants
· Can’t cradle babies or they’ll get sick
When I lived in Spain I was forbidden to swim in a friend's pool on a hot day. Someone saw a tampon in my makeup bag and told their parents who were certain the pool would be contaminated if I swam in it while on my period (even with a tampon in).
Even now in 2020, there is still a stigma around menstruation. It is not talked about enough and many girls these days are not being educated on how to truly take care of their menstrual health. Since so many Moms fall into this avoidance boat too, they often don’t have much information to share but their own experience– which isn’t always helpful. That is why I have become committed to learning more and helping my daughter have a different experience than I did.
Over the past few years, I have been struggling with my own hormone imbalance. It has been a challenging journey with very few solutions except for recommendations to take the pill or artificial mood stabilizers. The misinformation and a culturally supported denial to understand my own feminine health caused me to turn a blind eye– but now I choose to take the reins.
It's embarrassing to admit it has taken me this long.
I've been researching, reading, learning, exploring, testing out, and seeking knowledge and solutions from wise women. My young daughter is still years away from menstruation, but I am clear of the importance of teaching her about her own body and it's glorious and powerful ways. It's like unlocking a code. It takes some learning and navigating and time, but we need to have more conversations about this and put more intention into finding our own flo.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Find your Flo about my current journey to positive hormone health