Although we bleed every month, it’s always different. And it seems it always teaches something new as well. My period was very draining this time. I felt as though I hadn’t slept for weeks, my body ached and I felt empty. The dull ache woke me early in the morning, growing in intensity until I got my heat pad, woolly socks and another blanket.
The pain becomes all-consuming unless stopped by heat. On a bad day, it stops me from responding appropriately to my surroundings, it even stops me from thinking clearly. It’s got to be said, it isn’t always as bad as this.
Luckily, I was able to follow my instincts and hibernate. I rested as the nurturing warmth filled me, and gradually the pain loosened its grip. As I slept the morning away, I felt waves of restorative and cleansing energy wash through me. It was as if the period pains had cleared the way for new things to take place. Sleeping, dozing, resting, I allowed it to happen.
Why don’t I take painkillers? Well if I do, my body is numbed and I can’t feel what is happening with me. If I take painkillers, I think I’m fine and I realise only later that actually I wasn’t. So I prefer to use heat, herbal teas and rest. These remedies work differently than painkillers, although they also have very good pain-relieving effects. Painkillers also seem to inhibit my sensitivity to the rest of my being, so unless it’s really, really bad I prefer to do without. It then becomes a useful process for me to go through rather than an irritating pain, so it’s also one of the many things that help me to have a healthy relationship with my body – and my menstruation.
What happens if I have to go to work? Well, there are some times when I struggle through, and there are some times the body says stop. This time, I was lucky enough to have the day off, so I could hibernate in peace and take my time. It made all the difference to me. Not only could my body rest and go through this cleansing process in its own time, but I was able to mentally and emotionally process what was happening too. It meant that the process became deeper and more transformative, so that my menstruation in a way becomes like a re-birth. Slowing down and following my own internal rhythms is wonderfully therapeutic.
I wonder how many employers are supportive of days off due to period pain. Or who understand that giving you half a day off today will mean you don’t need a whole day off tomorrow. For me, this is a feminist issue. If I, as a strong, healthy and vibrant woman cannot delve into my natural cycles and processes, but must suppress them in order to fit in, then that’s not good. In order to become the best person I can, I must explore my whole existence. Being present with my menstruation is a part of that way of life. Bring on the heat pad and herbal tea!
Finding the community of Cycle Harmony has made a huge difference to me. I am delighted to be writing to you from the Red Tent and hope to share thoughts and experiences you recognise, or find useful to ponder upon. I look forward to working with you all in exploring what it is to be women, and hope to hear from you. ~ Vild