Monday, July 14, 2014

Period Piece

It’s such a joke in man-world that when women get together all they do is talk about their periods.

In woman-world, it’s not a joke – it’s truth.

Women who don’t even know each other can speak about their bleeding schedules with no hint of irony or shame.  Within minutes of coming into a group of women I don’t know, I have shared the following: when I started my first period, at least one of my own period mishaps, favorite brand of feminine hygiene products, and my own personal lament of the political unfairness that said hygiene products are not free of charge worldwide.

By the way, can we get on this already?  While we’re at it, how ‘bout we smarten up on the whole birth control biz, hmmm?  Like how you practically have to sell your soul to get it?  I mean, really.  I can’t even.

NOPE.

But let’s get back to periods.

Women hate having periods.  We’re not indifferent or blasé about it.  HATE.  It’s a terrible, unavoidable mess that we are forced to sugarcoat in pleasant company because the alternative to harping about it is suffering in silence, and there isn’t anything we can do about it.  Besides major, last-resort-only surgery, endless doctor appointments, and side effect-laden drugs, that is.  Show me a woman who is “eh” about having her period, and I’ll show you a person who is obviously heavily drugged.

Or inhuman.  Or indenial.


I can say this because I’m a woman.  We were made to bleed every month and expected to keep it hidden from the world during that time, because it is so disgusting that no one wants to hear or talk about it. 

Except other women.

When you have an affliction, it helps to know that there are others who share your misery.  A period is an affliction.  Why, it’s even mentioned in the Bible: In the book of Luke a woman who had been afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years reached out and touched Jesus’ robe and was healed.  Hemorrhages is the Bible’s polite way of saying she bled from her vagina.  For a dozen years.  Let’s pause for a moment and consider what it would be like to have your period for twelve years.  I may be adding to the story here, but I think she was even sort of an outcast because of it.

Knowing how I feel when I’m having my period, it was a self-inflicted sentence.  She probably gave up associating with normal people at year four.  Jeebus, Jennifer, you’re still having your period?  Ah, yeah.  I’m out.

Now that is a woman who better have a darn nice house in heaven.  She probably throws the best parties, too.  Girl, get ready.  When I get to heaven, you and me, we are gonna sit down and talk about periods.

You and me and all the women.

When women live together for a time, their bodies actually sync and everyone has their periods together.  It’s cosmic – magical.  It’s vagical.*  It’s still a horror show, don’t get me wrong – women don’t get together hoping for a community period.  It’s not that kind of slumber party.  I’ve been accused of making someone else start her period because we shared a house on vacation.  Not such a great feeling, knowing your body has determined to ruin someone else’s good time.  It happens, and try as we may, we can’t control nor take back our vagic powers.  They are propelled by a force untamed and raw, instinctual and heartless.

  
Like a shark, the primitive period has no feeling or compassion.  It just does what it was meant to do – make life suck.  It doesn’t care that you go to the beach once a year, or have a honeymoon to enjoy.  If it needs to arrive then, it will.  You can count on it, actually.  It might go off its regular schedule and show up even if it's not supposed to. Surprise - You didn’t bring enough underwear! And a six-pack of teenager-sized tampons is $15.99 in the hotel shop!

And there’s little you can do about it outside of constructing an elaborately-timed regimen of birth control pills or a months-in-advance scheduled doctor appointment for device insertion designed to thwart the real inconvenience of having to be within walking distance of a bathroom every hour or so for the bulk of your trip.  Add to that the additional inconvenience of having to keep from maiming the man who accompanies you and who doesn’t quite understand the importance of this.

Despite sharing your bed, your toilets, your sinks and sometimes even your shirts, the man you live with manages to forget that this happens to you Every. Single. Month.

Are you having your period again?

Sigh.


Every woman knows all of this to be true, and despite the frustration of period life, I am grateful that I can share my woes with other women, even those for whom periods are but a distant memory due to the sweet relief of surgery, pregnancy, or menopause.  For it means that I belong to a sisterhood who knows the truth, who will always have my back.  Who knows the difference between period and non-period undies, who understands that the bathroom scale should give a range instead of a specific weight, who listens to me when I cry about not being able to wear white pants today of all days, and passes the tissues.

Or a spare tampon, a hunk of chocolate, a Midol, or even a sweater to tie around my waist if needed.

She’s got me.  Even though I probably just made her start her period.

*******


*I can’t take sole credit for this awesome word and all that it means.  It came up during a conversation with some friends, and we all deemed it the word of the century.  Thanks girls.  Okay.  And guys.  xo

23 comments:

  1. I needed the scale "range" this morning. This made me feel better!

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    1. Ha! Yes. I needed the range today, too. :)

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  2. I am ON my period as I read this.
    I shared too much.
    Didn't I?

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    1. I don't think so. The thing about periods? They're not mysterious - they come every month. In fact, mine should be here any minute now.

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  3. I finally broke down and told Cady about periods. The end of childhood. Now is she is super worried she will start hers for the first time away from home. I keep telling her, "Sister, go to a woman. She's got your back." She'll get it too soon enough.

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    1. Yes. ANY woman will take her under her wing, give her a hug and a pad and assure her that it will be all right. I wish I had known that when I was a kid. So many wasted hours, worrying about blood on my pants.

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  4. I saw a funny commercial the other day that had the word "vagician." It was funny!
    And maybe you can get rich inventing the scale that gives ranges.
    I did have to laugh about the sweet "relief" of pregnancy or menopause. I've heard menopause is no joke and since I'm so insane, I'd probably start it and think I was pregnant. At age 50 or whenever.

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    1. I know menopause is no joke, but I can't help but think that it is the answer to all my prayers right now. And I'm with you about the older lady pregnant thing. Not that 50 is old anymore.

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  5. I carry so many tampons in my purse I could sell them like a dealer on the street. "Psst, you look like you could use a hit or a Kotex. I got just what you need right here...." ;)

    Vagical! is my new favorite word this week. Let's use it as a writing prompt. I hate my period and since I'm dealing with it right now, I laughed and then cried my way through this. (Hee.)

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    1. Ha! You and the tampons. And me, too. I have so many varieties in there, it's a one-stop shop for anyone nearby at any level of flow. In fact, I consider a woman who doesn't carry tampons some sort of modern-day renegade.

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  6. That ecard is totally awesome. (Or should I say vagical?) We did get hosed, Jenny. Totally. :)

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    1. The hosed e-card made me laugh, too. Poor Jenny. And the rest of us. :)

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  7. Ah, the biggest highlight of pregnancy... 10+ glorious period free months. Except for, you know, all the post-birth gushing.

    On another note, by BFFs mom had biblical hemorrhaging for years before she had a hysterectomy. She's much chiller now.

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    1. THANK YOU for acknowledging that pregnancy is 10+ months. 40 weeks = 10 months. Why hasn't this been corrected in the medical journals?

      I bet your friend's mom is chiller now. Biblical hemmorhaging is serious business. And I hate that it took years for her to get that hysterectomy.

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  8. My poor daughter and I cycle at the same exact time.

    I suppose I could feel sorry for my son and husband having to deal with both of us and our teary-eyed fragility during that exact same time.

    But NOPE.

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    1. Again - NOPE. If the men were smart, they'd send us all on vacation once a month.

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  9. OMG the ten month thing? Seriously can doctors not do basic math??? Thank you! This is why everybody thinks babies are late. They are not late, they are right on damn time is what they are. But I digress.
    I had alternate between laughing and crying all the way through this because...yes. Just yes. It's so true, though, you know? We do this, we women. We can throw one another under a bus for the smallest of offenses, but when it comes to periods? We're all in it together. I guess you know you've got it bad when you are desperately hoping for the signs of menopause...and then the GYN dashes your hopes and tells you you have another ten good years to go. HATER! It's amazing how easily we can all discuss this issue with such ease and men run screaming from the room. The Biblical hemorrhage had me on the floor - in Biblical times, women were avoided during their period, considered unclean. I should think so! The last thing any woman wants to do is pretend to be pleasant and in control. Seriously, just lock us up for a week.
    Perhaps one of my favorites of yours ever!

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    1. Thanks so much, Lisa! It's so nice to realize that we're all in good company, isn't it? I actually think I would benefit from Biblical treatment during my period, being sent away or out of sight - monthly spa week, anyone?

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  10. A pregnancy is 9 months because there are not exactly 4 weeks in a month....if there were, all months would be 28 days...

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    1. GAHHH! You've dashed my argument. Although I will have to say that I felt like I had been pregnant for ten YEARS near the end...

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  11. Mine just started today. Before I leave for a trip! F*%#!!!

    Yeah, totally "vagical". Not.

    Commiserations, sister!

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