How I Went From "It's Complicated" To "In A Relationship" With My Cycle in Three Parts:
Part I: The Bloodshed
I first got my period when I was 10 years old.
I will NEVER forget it: it was Spring Break, Good Friday to be exact. I was going to see Sgt Bilko at the Century City mall with my friend Shelly, and my mom was in a different theater.
I was in the 5th grade.
I walked into my mom's theater, whispered "I got my period," but she didn't hear me, so I whispered it again louder and a guy a few seats down looked over at me. Who knows if he actually heard what I said, but it felt like he based on how my mind recollects the horror in his eyes.
My mom took me to the bathroom, got me a pad, told me what to do, and proceeded to mortify me by making the joke: "Okay, now no more unprotected sex." REAL FUNNY.
I silently went back to my theater and sat next to Shelly and finished watching Sgnt Bilko. And while I am sure it was hilarious (Steve Martin is one of my favorite actors in the world), I couldn't enjoy the movie. I was too freaked out by my own body. For the rest of the week, I wouldn't move much when I was with my friends.
I envisioned the opening of my legs causing a geyser of blood to shoot out all over wherever I was and whoever was near.
It got to the point that a few days in, my mom got a call from another friend's mom because my friend thought I didn't like her anymore. (oh elementary school and phone trees) My mom encouraged me to tell my friend my secret, and the next day... our ENTIRE 5th grade class knew. The boy I liked asked me if it was contagious, and another boy told me if I put alcohol on a cotton ball I could fix it...
So, I think you can see why my period and I...we got off to a pretty bumpy start.
Over the last two plus decades I have ruined PJ bottoms, underwear, and sheets. I have written hilarious and accurate monologues that compare my cycle to the Wonderland murder scene. Once, in the 5th grade, my guy friend Evan quietly came over to tell me that I had blood on my white shorts because everyone was making front of me behind my back at foursquare: I never wore white bottoms again until I was in college. I'll NEVER forget how merciless the kids were to me about my period, and about my breasts. Of course as an adult I can look back and know that they were all clueless, that the girls were threatened and that boys are just gross little weirdos when it comes to boobs...but at 10, you just feel and hear the mockery and it's devastating.
I have cursed my body and shamed myself for it simply BEING.
And I am so fucking over that.
The amount of blood I lose on my cycle is incredibly detrimental to my well being: I lose circulation in my hands and nose, I get debilitating migraines, and I have had multiple eastern medicine doctors tell me I can NEVER be a vegetarian because of how anemic I am. I used to have to wear super plus tampons, in addition to thick liners just to feel remotely safe living my life on my period. I also have had the most insane cramps: my fiancé has seen me fall on the ground as if I had the wind kicked out of me from how intensely violent the pain is. I remember one time at 12 years old I was at the mall and they got so bad I got the chills and almost fainted and had to go sit by myself on a bench while my friend's shopped and giggled and all that cute mean girl shit 12 year old girl's do.
People are starting to GET how bad cramps can be for us: but it's still something you don't understand unless you've experienced it, much like migraines. To have the pain in your body be so extreme, so aggressive, no matter what you do: it's unexplainable.
About a year ago, I decided to go to acupuncture to try and regulate my cycle: as it has never been regular, except when on hormonal birth control. I also wanted to try and get the symptoms and extreme bloodshed under control: or at least make it so my body could more or less handle when I was on my cycle (which was usually a TEN day situation.) My acupuncturist is a goddess and promised me that just because I had never had a regular cycle before, didn't mean I couldn't ever have a regular cycle. And so the journey began.
(Yo quick side note: If you live in LA, Carolyn Barron of BOTANARCHY is truly a magical fairy goddess and you should see her for accupuncture)
I started on some herbs, saw her every week for over a month, and then backed it off to once a month or more if needed. I also started tracking my cycle and my symptoms to try and gain a better understanding of what was happening in my body. On top of that: because I am a little neurotic about not creating waste: I decided to also create a better relationship with my vagina by no longer using tampons and pads: but instead a sea sponge and glad rags cotton reusable panty liners. This way, I don't create endless waste by blowing through dozens of tampons and liners every cycle. Plus, there's NO better way to get to know your vag than when you're using a sponge on your cycle.
It wasn't the smoothest start: the sponge was too big, and I didn't quite put it in properly the first few times: but it's been at least 6 months using these more environmentally friendly products: and I am SO much happier! I mean: think about how many feminine hygiene products you trash into our landfills and flush down the toilet?! I am a HUGE fan of the sponge AND the Glad Rags: and suggest and encourage all women to try them out!
Remember earlier how I said my cycle has always been irregular except when on hormonal birth control?
Cue seamless transition to: