One of the more popular phrases among people in my social and familial circles is “I’m so over it.” I admit to uttering this, too, in moments of frustration, but tonight, as I was repeating it as a mantra in my head, I was struck by how much that phrase is a wish more than a reality. By saying “I’m so over it,” I am really advertising that I am, in fact, deeply mired in it to the point of not knowing how to get out of it, whatever it is.
Tonight “it” is my reproductive cycle. I’m forty-two and for the last two years I have suffered from increasingly ridiculous periods. If this sort of talk makes you squeamish, close the tab and walk away from the screen or put the screen down.
Still with me? Here we go.
The flow is heavy. It is clotty. It is unpredictable and prone to geiser-like gushes that no “feminine hygiene” product can contain.
It is disgusting. It has disgusted me.
It has made me intensely aware of how much our society denies the reality of the female reproductive cycle. We can handle the sex part and the pregnancy and birth (sort of) part. We cannot handle menstruation. We no longer stay in huts excluded from all other (male) society while having our periods. Instead, our huts travel with us in the form of tampons (do not even let that menstrual flow out. Don’t you dare), pads (ultra thin so no one even knows it is there and that you are, indeed, a female of reproductive age), cups, and deodorizers of various sorts to mask the earthy salty smell of blood. Let that blood show to the world and the shame and disgust will make you long for the days when we could just be honest and get a week off in the hut. Just look at Instagram’s recent reaction to photos of a woman with blood stains on her pajama pants (they were first removed as indecent and only restored after a fairly wide protest). Our menstrual blood is indecent and meant to be hidden.
I have bled through my clothes and onto upholstery multiple times in the last two years. I have stood in front of rooms full of people giving presentations and turned my back to them not realizing my hut was showing. I have sat through meetings terrified to stand up for fear the gush I felt as I sat there had indeed broken through all of the barriers and absorbent layers of my hut and I would have to deal with the shame and disgust of my hut on the upholstery confronting us all with the absolutely “flesh and blood” nature of the female reproductive cycle. It happened again today, prompting the mantra and the reflection that began this post.
When I was a younger woman and I heard the story of Jesus and the hemorrhaging woman, I first was proud of Jesus for not being grossed out, then angry with the crowd for isolating a woman for bleeding. Now I identify with the woman and imagine the relief she must have felt when Jesus stopped her bleeding. No more fear. No more shame.
My reproductive tract has been fairly good to me. It helped me produce two beautiful children. It has helped me have some wonderful (and some just okay) sex over the last couple of decades. It has done the reproductive portion of its job. It is okay if it is ready to retire. But just do it, for goodness sake.
This June, with the help of an ob/gyn, I am going to help usher my uterus’ lining off my stage through ablation. I am counting down the days.
Because I am so ready to be over it.