This morning I woke up to a monster migraine. So, I canceled my morning work out and tried to sleep in (i couldn’t actually sleep in, my body has its own ideas). I’ve noticed as I get older when I’m on my cycle I get mild migraines or low-level headaches that Advil and copious amounts of water won’t touch. Does that happen to you? I think it get’s worse when I’m pushing hard at work and not getting enough downtime. I believe sharing this as a female is not only important but also a radical act of protest against the patriarchy. A radical act against a system that’s tried to tell women to toughen up and grow a thicker skin when this is precisely what often makes us really damn tough already.
If you had any questions if I'm a feminist before you can rest assured I'm a feminist and this post for some might be mild, or unenlightening if you're a woman who's already owned this philosophy. For others, these thoughts might seem taboo or radical. But for me 35 almost 36 I'm just coming into owning these feelings and I want to talk about them because I'm putting a personal stop to not talking about what has traditionally in my circles of family, community and work life (up until the last year) been purely “female business or something to keep to yourself”. I think having an open dialog about what our cycles do to us physically and energetically is extremely important. Not openly talking about what happens during our cycles, before during and after is a way of disconnecting us from our bodies. It's not just important for women to talk openly with each other of these cycles and phases of our bodies it's also important for men to know what’s happening. Breaking down the walls of unintentional or intentional ignorance and lack of understanding of what physically mentally, chemically, and emotionally happens to women each month can make this world a better more compassionate and understanding place.
The better informed we all are male and female alike the more we can do to share what works for each of us to prevent pain and feel better as well as bring compassion to the table. I always thought that if I didn’t ignore my cramps I was being weak. If I didn’t ignore the fact that I’m more depleted the week of my cycle that made me lazy. I had this idea that ignoring and overcoming the limitations of my body made me greater or stronger in some way. Like pushing through feeling horrible is some silent badge of honor. I’m finally calling bullshit on myself. What I'm really learning is that thinking and acting like I need to push through the pain is actually a form of self-destruction. I was buying into a system that wasn't built by women, it was a system of thought built by men and the longer I ascribe to the system the longer I let it have unnecessary power over me.
I think my mom did her best to share with me what she thought was important about periods and cycles but she left so much out, I mean she grew up Catholic in the 50's and god knows Catholics aren't great about talking openly about anything that has to do with the female body. My mom actually did a pretty great job of talking to me about my period and my body considering her upbringing. My mom never intentionally did or said anything to make me feel ashamed of my body, but the way periods weren't discussed with men or discussed openly at all made it seem like it was a shameful thing. I remember feeling such deep internal shame the first time I got my period, it ushered in this odd feeling of no longer being innocent but not having done anything wrong. I was taught to politely hide my pads or tampons under the sink behind closed cabinets. Politely hiding tampons and pads in my purse as not to create awkwardness if someone else especially a man should see it. As if it should be some big strange secret that I'm on my period when the truth is half the population gets a period every single month! Why should we act like it doesn't happen? Why should we act like it's not affecting us? Why don't all public restrooms offer tampons and pads the way we offer toilet paper?
Is this a way you were brought up or taught? Is it a system of thought you are challenging or have overcome? How did you begin to think differently about it? How did you change the narrative in your head to be one of more self-compassion, more self-care, and more healing? Or have you always thought these thoughts? Did you grow up in a house that talked openly about all of this?
Personally speaking, it's not realistic for me to take a bed-day, a nap or a break when I'm not feeling good each month but I wish it was and I probably have more flexibility in this than most. Today I probably will make it a bed-day, as beautiful as it is outside I'm gonna skip being out in the world and cacoon inward and I'm going to do my best not to feel guilty about it.
I want to know what you do to take care of yourself when you're on your period. Do you get migraines or headaches during your cycle? What are your self-care routines around it? I'd really love to know. Thanks for your comments and suggestions.