PERIOD TALK – PART 1: FROM COMPLAINTS TO EMPOWERMENT
Mariette Reineke (46, pictured on the right) and Naomi van Ree (26, pictured on the left) talk about periods, cycles and being a woman. Part 1: from complaints to empowerment. Every 28 days, you’ll find a new talk on Period!. Want to join the conversation? That’s possible!
How was your last menstruation?
Naomi: ‘My period started last Tuesday, exactly on time. Luckily I was working from home that day, as I experienced more stomach cramps and was dizzier than usual. My last month has been busy with many nice things, but with too little space for myself. This period indicated that I could be more loving towards myself this week, even though I’m doing many soulful things. Sometimes just really sitting in silence does more for me.’
And how was your period?
Mariette: ‘I’m in the perimenopause, a new phase in my life that I embrace with curiosity. I haven’t had my period for quite some time, which was unusual for me, so I was very happy when I got it two weeks ago. I had this HURAY! feeling. Because what if I’m not going to menstruate anymore? Am I already ready for that? I don’t feel ready yet. The evening before I had quite a bloated stomach and some cramps, so I felt it coming. Normally I menstruate for about 1 to 1.5 days. I always take it easy those days. My period is a reflection of how and in which quality I’ve lived that month and to what extend I have been connected to myself.’
How do you feel about having your period?
Naomi: ‘It may sound crazy, but I enjoy having my period. I love the feeling that everything ‘works’ and flows through. I’ve had a coil for five years and therefore didn’t have a menstruation. At times I felt sad or anxious, but I couldn’t figure out why. At that time, I was 22 years old, I asked myself if this corpus alienum could be actually blocking my natural flow and body rhythm instead of truly contributing. When it got removed, I felt freer.’
Naomi: ‘It may sound crazy, but I enjoy having my period’
‘Something woke up within me, because in fact I didn’t know my body at all. What did those painful breasts mean? Sometimes I had stomach cramps, but the other times I didn’t. Instead I had constipation or diarrhoea. A personal journey followed and I started looking into my food choices, my lifestyle and the moon cycle. Afterwards, I integrated all this valuable information into my life. My PMS disappeared. I now feel more energised and, most importantly: I feel more like a woman. A strong woman.
I know exactly what my body is telling me and I’ve recovered a deep trust in how it communicates. My menstruation is a moment for and with myself. My partner always tells me that when I have my period, I keep myself to myself more. He completely supports me though; he’ll bring me a cup of tea and a piece of chocolate and then retreats to another room so I can use the creative energy that flows through me when menstruating.’
How is it for you?
Mariette: ‘I recognise what you’re saying: I also enjoy having my period. I experience it as an essential part of being a woman and don’t see it as a burden. Around nine years ago, I made the choice to relate to myself and to life in a different way. I started to live more from inside out, instead of outside in, and made the commitment to listen more to my body. Step by step, I started to make different choices, choices that actually support my body. I started to build a relationship with myself. Because of this, my relationship with my menstruation has also changed. Since the age 16 I’ve been taking the pill – the three-phase pill, so I still had the idea of living with a cycle. I took the pill for birth control, not because I had problems with my menstruation.’
Mariette: ‘It felt like I was the owner of my body again. I’m never going to take the pill anymore’
‘Eleven years ago I stopped permanently, because I wanted to get pregnant. Straight away I felt the changes in my breasts. It felt like I was the owner of my body again. I’m never going to take the pill anymore. I’ve never even considered a coil. The thought gives me the jitters and my whole body says: no way, I won’t have that inside me. In my opinion, birth control is a subject that we women should talk about more openly. Do we use it so we won’t get pregnant or because we don’t want to deal with our periods?’
Good question: do we use birth control to avoid getting pregnant or because we don’t want to deal with our menstruation? Do you actually have a period when using hormonal birth control? Join the conversation! Respond via the contact form below or send an email to redactie <@> period.nl. In 28 days there’ll be another Period Talk.
About the authors
Mariette Reineke is a Dutch freelance journalist, writer/blogger and co-founder of Stichting Verkering met Jezelf. Follow her via her platform Heartstorm. Naomi van Ree is a Dutch storyteller who is specialised in Eastern elements philosophy and acupressure. She’s also a reiki therapist. Find more information on her website.
More personal stories?
A very public menstrual leak, by Sarah Sahagian
Dear Period…, by Yayeri van Baarsen
Period changes and chemotherapy, by Cruz Santana
A time for celebration, by Robyn Jones
Why did I ever think this was normal, by Clare Knox