Tuesday, January 09, 2007
it's my blood
Today I was talking to my friend, S, an empowered, feminist woman. She had just gotten her period and was having some cramps and complained a little. I, who has somewhat of an issue with random muscle spasms and cramps in other parts of my body said that I prefer menstrual cramps to that other type of cramping. S said that she prefers no cramps at all. Then I told her that not only do I prefer uterine cramps to the cramping of other muscle groups, but that I actually kind of like uterine cramps. She said I was weird.
I guess she must be right. I realized that all my years of feminist consciousness raising and herbal education and midwifery training and practicing has put me into what is probably a tiny minority. I am so deeply connected to my cycles and appreciate my body so much that I love menstruating, furthermore I enjoy the minor discomfort associated with it.
Now please hear me out. First of all, I know there are many women out there who, for a variety of reasons physiological and emotional, experience extreme discomfort and even acute pain during their menstrual cycle, and I, gratefully, am not one of them. I would likely feel differently if I were. Also, I believe that it would be far less difficult for all women to cope with the physical and emotional symptoms associated with our reproductive cycles, and reproducing itself, if we were all in a culture that allowed a little more space for us to provide ourselves with the care we may need to ameliorate those symptoms, care such as time off, bed rest, nourishing foods and teas, gentle exercise, support of other women in the community, support of the men in the community, etc.
That said, here I am, anomalous. I like the bleeding, the gorgeous bright and dark reds of my blood. I like the warm sensation of the contractions as they gently grip my womb. I appreciate the emotional vulnerability, the wide openness that comes in this state and the days leading up to it. I get a kick out of the tears I can find myself shedding over a sunrise or a Hallmark commercial. I even find the tender soreness that my nipples experience to be kind of yummy; my breasts long to be held and when I am lucky enough to have the pleasure of someone's attention on them the sensitivity is really quite a turn-on.
I like to sit and let the waves of aching wash through me as I am submerged in a hot bath. I like it that when I go to bed the night of the first day of my bleeding I am assured I will sleep deeply and deep into the morning. I try whenever possible to allow myself that treat, that brief, period vacation some mornings.
I am glad that when I bleed I bleed onto cotton cloths and pads that I wash and use over. I spend no money on disposable menstrual products that eventually get thrown or flushed away.
I cherish watching how my cycle gets swayed with the moon. I am not a 28 day bleeder; I generally cycle more quickly than that so it is interesting to notice how the tides of the earth and orbit of the moon can pull me into one direction or another, a slightly longer cycle, a particularly juicy fertility spell during a full moon, a dark, heavy bleed during a new moon. I track the days of my cycle in my We'Moon calendar and have done so for ten years or longer. I am as in touch with my fertility as I think one could be. I can choose not to practice any other method of birth control than fertility awareness when I have a lover if I want because I know beyond the shadow of a doubt when I am able to get pregnant. It is a beautiful blessing.
So to those of you reading who are shirking at my intimate recount of something most women hide or despise I ask that you have an open mind and imagine that perhaps there would be far fewer women who did suffer under a simple and natural rhythm of their bodies if they were not forced to hide it or feel shame in it or work through it quietly eating Midol and stuffing chemical laden tampons into the most delicate niche in their bodies. Perhaps like so many other things in our world we are out of balance in how we manage, approach and appreciate what women's bodies do.
I like bleeding. You could, too. And our men can learn to love everything that our bodies do and appreciate and value our cycles and make space and provide love for us in the course of that flow.
And thus we have come to the end of another one of my feminist, tree-hugging, dirt-worshipping, witch-talking, yoni-loving tirades. But you can excuse me, right? I am bleeding, after all. ; )
(PS - I bet most of you have never seen Judy Chicago's earth-shattering, feminist art piece called Red Flag. I chose not to use it as the image heading up my blog only because I wanted to gently introduce my feelings on the matter, but if I were feeling feisty, this is the image I would have used. Please check it out. Judy Chicago is one of my heroes.)