We have had a tumultuous relationship, you and I. I remember when you first arrived. I didn’t know what to do. My mom had never talked with me about you. All I knew was from a pamphlet I’d sent away for and from reading about girls who had gotten their periods in fiction books. Well, just two girls: Margaret and Allegra Maud Goldman. I was uninformed. I waited two days after you came to tell my mom. I felt awkward and weird. My mom gave me some pads and that was that. Several days later she asked, “So, whatever happened with your period?” I don’t think we spoke of you again. I don’t remember how my supply of bulky pads was replenished. (Tampons were not discussed as an option.)
You were troublesome. You were strong and demanding and I didn’t know how to control you. So many nights I slept with a hand towel tucked into my underwear to try and keep you from getting all over my sheets. So many times I got up from a chair worried that you’d made a surprise appearance (all over the back of my pants). Remember the one time when that actually happened? I was in my 20s and still didn’t know how to manage you. The highest absorbency tampon along with a thick maxi pad couldn’t staunch your flow. I got up from lunch and, HELLO, there you were. I wrapped my jacket around my waist, hastily told the principal at the school where I was teaching what happened (luckily, she was a woman), and rushed to Wal-Mart to buy a new pair of pants, desperately searching for the same olive green color I’d been wearing. Do you know how hard it is to find an olive green pair of pants when you need one? I felt ashamed, I felt defeated, I couldn’t wait for you to be gone. I held on to the one period fact my mom shared with me: she went through menopause early, in her 40s.
I’m in my 40s now. And you’re still in my life! I’ve kept track of you for 131 cycles but, sometimes you still surprise me. Like the time you waited 44 days to show up rather than your usual 27. What was up with that? Or the time you popped up after just 23 days. Last year, I tried a menstrual cup and reusable pads (I use GladRags). I did my research before I ordered. Did you know there are teenage girls making YouTube videos about you? Talking openly about you and sharing tips for using menstrual cups? Amazing! I was so impressed with these young women. I thought, if they can be open and accepting of their periods, I can, too. The menstrual cup and GladRags were total game changers! I initially switched to reusables to minimize my waste. I didn’t realize I would feel in control of you for the first time in my life. I have a different perspective of you. I wouldn’t say we’re friends, but I’ve accepted you for who you are. Mighty, assertive, someone who will be seen, a force to be reckoned with. Powerful. I respect you.
I need to get something off my chest … I know olive green pants are fashionable today, but 20 years ago they weren’t. I did try to tell you, okay in the form of ruining your pants and humiliating you in the process. That probably didn’t help our relationship, oh well. I know it hasn’t felt like it, but I do have your back and always have. You just didn’t understand how to work with me.
Water under the bridge now, but I am sad we missed out on decades of mutual understanding and respect. Now that you know how to manage me (they always say manage up), I trust that we can align more closely. I’m also impressed and relieved that you’ve found ways to reduce your waste when dealing with me. Compliments aside, I can’t promise that my sporadic visits won’t continue. What can I say – I still get moody and I am the epitome of self centered. But I will try as we round that final corner toward menopause (READ OUR LAST JOURNEY TOGETHER). Lets go out with a bang.
Consider this my olive branch Missy.
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