– BY REBECCA PLUME –
I’ve served women for over a decade, teaching yoga and artistic circus and how this movement can help us accept our bodies. I advise, guide and heal where I can; from menarche (a girl’s first introduction to her period – oh and what a joyous day that can be!) to learning the way with her cycle. And it is a way. A blood initiation that no street-gang-rat or seasoned Native American on his vision path could ever emulate to our standard. Our legacy is blood.
‘Society’s solution is to plug it up so we feel the same every day: a wave instead of a spike’
I’ve heard menstrual blood described as ‘bad blood’ – that which is discarded. I’m not sure what any of that actually means – an ex-boyfriend told it me. This sort of language though is fairly typical from both men and women in regards to the ole rag. Periods are seen as dirty, inconvenient, messy, painful and bizarrely, a source of feminine weakness. They’re seen as a source of shame, largely, and one of the saddest things I hear is how a woman’s cycle is portrayed as depressive. Something which invokes suicidal thoughts and so society’s answer (or let’s say it as it is: society’s answer to making money) is to plug it up. Pump out use of the mini pill and let loose the artificial hormones, so that every day we can feel the same. A wave and not a spike on the emotional scale.
‘Taking fake hormones isn’t the answer’
Well, that’s not healthy. If we feel our mood is, in some cases, severally affected by the menstruum, then taking fake hormones is not the answer – or if it is, it’s not the only or best answer. In the last few years we have seen a massive movement in communication, a collective effort to bring to light that dark monster called mental health from whatever cupboard it may lurk. With the same degree of honesty and courage, we need to talk about menstruation. I believe we see a period all wrong – it is not draining, but cathartic, and linked to our emotional and mental wellbeing. We can do so much better then line the purse of medical rogues who want to dull you down and pump you up. Do you want to be a wave? I don’t… #Iamthestorm. Up and down, round and round, back and forth, yet always moving forward as intended… A force of Nature. Freedom is a broken dam and I’m raging, but sometime I just bumble along, like a leaf on water. And that’s all okay by me.
‘A cycle is more than menstruation’
So why are we so down on our Nature-decreed birth right? It’s pretty cool – it’s the stuff of sci-fi (the pull of the Moon on our emotions and effecting our ovulation) and almost transcendental (are we not made up of star dust and the elements?) When did it become like this, to replace mash with smash? And somehow believe that this was better for our health? The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare issued the most redolent statement; ‘99% of women do not need to bleed in today’s society and menstruation has no benefit on a woman’s body’. WHATTTTT? Menstruation – and a woman’s cycle – is gynaecological alchemy; blood turned in to life with a pool of hormones running rich. The boffs that wrote this and push for the pill haven’t got their smarts right. Apart from the outpouring of emotion which is VERY GOOD for mental relief, a cycle is more than menstruation. It’s a whole four week (give or take) season and you are a part of that story. We aren’t made up biologically or chemically the same as men. So to say that menstruation has no benefit is just patriarchal crud. Worse still, the very worst… women internalise this bullsh*t.
‘Is it a breakdown or a breakthrough? Perhaps we should reflect and let go’
So why do periods hurt like a motherf*cker? And why can our thoughts tend to spiral downwards during this time? The emotional side can be a bit tricky, I grant thee, fair blood maidens, and hormones are exceptionally strong agents over our mental wellbeing. Again, there is choice involved. Is it a breakdown or a breakthrough? A period can usually serve to show us all what has been going on in that four week cycle. The prominent feminist Alexander Pope writes that our menstrual cycle is the ‘barometer of our wellbeing’, and perhaps we should use the menstruum as a tool to reflect…. And let go.
‘Let’s take out brutal and replace it with fierce’
I sometimes think that we have the elements all wrong. That for us women it’s Earth (connection), Moon (push and pull), Water (flow) and Blood (life). Air and Fire are secondary. Blood heals; every masseuse will tell you that. Menstrual blood is stem cell rich and coats the vaginal walls. Blood heals: let’s take out brutal, replace it with fierce. Let’s take mess out of the deal and see it as art. And let’s take the dark thoughts away too. Hormones are very powerful agents of emotional change; but those dark thoughts are not here to harm us, because remember, we are creatures of Earth and Moon, made of Stardust. Those thoughts and feelings are a result of our periods. Perhaps we should listen to them and see what they’re trying to tell us. Is there something we need to let go of? What is it that no longer serves us? Our blood is an expression of our emotional state as much as a biological reaction. So read it, and let it go.
‘Go to the Red Tent and bleed!’
Bleed if you can, ladies. Bleed well. Some of the strongest women I know have been the biggest period deniers, who have come back to their cycle, allowed it, accepted it, and it no longer cripples them with pain or serves up a dish of the Johnny-one-notes. It’s your birth right and inheritance and it’s a damn good one to own. Dream, bleed. Know sh*t that got us burned at the stake and called witch, upgraded in this modern age to bitch. Take your time – stop rushing, reflect. Indulge. Rest. Go to the Rent Tent and bleed like a motherf*cker. Suffer well. Call down the f*cking skies and be her wolf. Howl. Bleed well, ladies. Bleed well.
About the author:
Rebecca Plume is a professional corporate aerialist and a teacher of circus arts and yoga. She’s 38 years old and has never been on the pill. Rebecca has recently learnt to truly love her menstrual cycle and now even looks forward to her period as she devoutly follows her cycle and uses it to the full effect.
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