"There was a layer of shame. All of this stuff was hard for me to share and after years of this silence, it became a source of pain actually, there was a lot of pain attached to the topic and if anything, fear.
The topic was with me this morning and I had a lot of memories, specifically around my introduction and to the women in my family. There was a part that I totally forgot and suppressed in regard to this topic.
I entered very early on, bleeding from a young age and I was really ashamed of it; my body. I remember getting my period and not telling my mother for a year and a half or something, I would just steal pads and hide them. This in itself tells a lot about the general atmosphere around our cycles. Then at some point in time my friends got their periods and I would sort of say ‘me also’, but without a conversation around it. I also didn’t discuss it with any other female members of the family, so when this came to me this morning, I realised I had a really detached start.
Nothing was introduced to me in any sort of way, and I clearly felt that it was something to be ashamed of and also seemingly what I perceived on a more societal level, whatever made me think what I was thinking. I don’t know what the reason was at that point in time, but it was something I accepted for what it was, I also didn’t experience strong pain, the physical sensation was never ‘loud’ enough for me to need to arrange with the help or conversation with others.
So, for many years I was not embracing it, not paying attention, it was just there. With my mother I don’t think I ever had a single talk and neither with the other women in my family. It is now that I am able to look back and reflect and see how it relates to other things also, so this went on for some years. There was a winter where I started to get into sport, to become much more athletic and I got really bad anaemia, losing all my red blood cells. I was also on a vegan diet at the time and was very controlling of what I ate; it all came together at once and within four weeks I lost a lot of weight and it was really really scary and then I didn’t have my period. It was also a time where I had a lot of stress and it transformed into a cycle of fear within my body and I couldn’t remove it for a long time. It was another thing which I wouldn’t disclose and therefore came with this layer of shame. All of this stuff was hard for me to share and after years of this silence, it became a source of pain actually, there was a lot of pain attached to the topic and if anything, fear.
A lot of things came together and that is where and when the cycles started to make sense. I took time, I really took time to work through it, and it came at a point that my grandmother had ovarian cancer, spreading from the ovaries and it come back. Within a few weeks she became less and less and less and she ended up dying. This might sound very strange, but the day she died, I felt like I was born a second time. I wondered ‘what is happening?’ I kept observing my body and it seemed to be the first time I was actually in touch with it. It was the first time that I had felt a deep sense of rest in my body and like I had gotten in touch with something I had no idea existed. It was very strange.
The night before she died, I had a dream that I was taking care of a disabled man and I think he tried killing me or coming with a knife whilst I was taking care of him with the members of the family around. I remember telling my mum about it and basically this theme is a transgenerational topic, and this is why it is interesting to see how it cycles through the family.
My grandmother had an abortion when my mother was a teen and that very much determined their dynamic, from then onwards my mum declared her as a murderer basically. The abortion was overnight, and they never spoke about it. She, my mother, didn’t have her period for a very long time, and she never thought she could get pregnant. She did, however eventually become pregnant with all of us; I am the only daughter and the first child, and how I am making sense of it all is that based on her own history and having not gone very far in the healing of her cycle and with her mother, she couldn’t go there with me.
When my grandmother died, my mother got into Family Constellation, a technique working with transgenerational trauma. It became clear to her that this child, who had never been born, needed to get a place within the family system. She started doing work around that for herself, and I remember when I told her about this dream, she said to me ‘wow, its clear no?’ for her it was so clear what this dream was about and why it was happening and that the cancer which had spread from the ovaries was a way to release something into the system and to me, in that moment, everything made sense.
I felt ‘okay now I can start living’ and from that moment onwards, my journey really opened toward my feminine energy, and things really started, with more consciousness and based on my environment at that point in time.
I started paying attention, I was determined to take care of my cycle, noticing it is a very gradual process. I was immersing, living and perceiving myself, accepting all of the things I was previously rejecting as a part of me. I experienced a lot of changes in my body, but also my overall sense of being has changed ever since. Now I feel it plays a very big part of my life and in my relationships, it is integral, especially with romantic or intimate partners we have been walking this rhythm, my rhythm, together and it is really very beautiful. Feeling, and receiving deep acceptance, especially based on my history where I felt that it was not welcome; my cycle, or my menstruation and now to go to the other extreme and have someone paint with my blood for instance, is really providing me with a deep sense of acceptance, a welcoming of my own system. So, now, I still see the process unfolding and if anything, it just amazes me how my cycle gets me in touch with everything around, how I look at things in my environment and I see the cycle, I see it reflected everywhere. I still to this day don’t have much pain, so I would say there are very subtle changes. I don’t experience the extreme of not being able to do anything during my bleed, but I try to acknowledge it.
The first two weeks of my cycle are challenging for me, I feel I am in the ‘doing mode’ which I was in for many years and there is an anxiousness which comes with that; of not being able to hear myself, wondering where is it? Where am I? carrying a fear that it won’t continue.
It has settled, but here and there, when I sense what I guess it a hormonal change I am really, deeply grateful. When I feel the softness of the second half of the cycle drop, I am grateful. During the bleed, it does slow me down and think differently and for that I am very protective of it.
Our relationship to the initiation process of the female body somehow has a lot to do with how men are educated around it and how they are introduced to it. I think it plays a big role in the shape which wombyn’s cycles are presented in culture. I think it is something to really be put into society, proactively. Our cycle is affects everyone and for the non-menstrual beings to walk along with it and us is important. Of course, men also have cycles and to introduce this to any living being out there as a way of being and a way of being attuned is interesting.
There is a wish that if womb bodies are having a ritual around our cyclical process, men and other beings would be aware of it, so that the topic is not hidden or taboo or strange, but that it is known, present and celebrated by the larger community.
I wish for girls and women in our society to have a nice introduction, where they are introduced to their cycle as a source of power and inspiration and connection to themselves and everything around them. I wish that it is celebrated and honoured and part of the everyday doing. That would be my wish for everyone, and for myself. I wish that on a day to day basis I have a practice and ritual which gets me in touch with my cycle and helps me in using it throughout my day. The cycle, for me, has a lot to do with connection, connection to myself as the core. To be more attuned to my intuition, to help me navigate through life and guide me and trust and ultimately to love. It is reflected in everything I am doing now, the aspect of being gentle with myself, with my relationships, they go hand in hand, there is importance in embracing and celebrating our cycles.
I am not sure, but I think it my cycle plays a big part in how I am selecting my partners also, there is a sense and very early on see how they relate to themselves, to the cycle, my cycle. It is an important element of our togetherness.
I didn’t receive help at this time, I didn’t ask for it, I just couldn’t.
I was denying it to myself for a long time and so with that I entered a very traumatic period of my life. The small attempts I did make to receive help, didn’t go anywhere. On a day to day basis I was fine I was functioning, my life continued, but I kept postponing the topic until a few years ago in a relationship when my partner asked me and I was triggered. In that was the moment I realised how much pain was there and how much shame I carry in my body around my cycle, my menstruation, it felt very extreme. If anything I was surprised by the way my body responded, I was frozen, I couldn’t respond for three days or so, and I was in a very strange state.
This story reflects a lot about our society, but I also now see it as a source of power, as the ‘full experience’. I keep realising more and more that it is an ongoing process, that is unfolding and through my different cycles I feel like I am tasting things for the first time, this kind of quality.
Because of this appreciation, this energy, I am able and wanting to cultivate more of it and it requires a lot more integration, but it is really something which excites me, and I am very deeply grateful that I have access to it now.
What is very interesting is to see how this moves through the family, the chains of the females who trace through the family.
At some point I studied sexology and to read about the rituals and movements in other cultures is a big wow! There are a thousand different ways of how a woman’s cycle is perceived and celebrated and how at least in the context that I grew up in was not something which was cultivated.