When my period arrived on Monday, I said hello to it. And I mean I literally said, out loud, “Hello, friend!” To blood in the toilet.
I love having a regular period. I have no plans to have another baby, but I celebrate my fertility. It’s a sign that my body is healthy on the inside. It’s great news for my bones (I have osteoporosis in my spine, and having a regular menstrual cycle decreases the likelihood of further deterioration or fracture). Menstruation feels like a monthly gift, but not in the facetious, misogynist way. It’s my body’s way of saying, “I know I’m safe.”
I didn’t always feel positive about my period. I started menstruating early, the summer before fifth grade. I was mortified. I remember that my first period, which was brown and sludgy, looked so ugly to me. I already felt ugly on the outside in my lumpy, maturing body; now I was ugly on the inside, too. The heavy, plasticky pads seemed like a combination diaper and a pillow, and having so much material stuffed between my legs made me acutely aware of a body region I was forever trying to ignore (to the point that for a long time as a child, I refused to wipe after urinating. Of course, I didn’t notice, but I’m sure the smell was awful).
In high school, I began reading about feminism and woman-affirming spirituality. That paved the way for a more positive view of my period. I began seeking out and using alternative menstrual products—menstrual cups, cloth pads, and sea-sponge tampons—and got to know my flow. The brown sludge at the end of my period still kind of disturbed me, but I actually loved seeing the bright red blood those first few days. I began to get in touch with my cycles of energy and desire, too. As a teenager, I noticed that right before my period, I had an overwhelming urge to rearrange the furniture.
Flash-forward to now: I’m getting reacquainted with my cycle, and recapturing that joy, connection to my spiritual base, and learning to be more in tune with my body as it cycles each month. In the days leading up to my period, I no longer want to rearrange furniture, but I do feel a strong desire to load unused things into garbage bags and haul them off to Goodwill (hello, symbolism!). I crave different foods at different points in my cycle. Not chocolate, usually—because I eat that every day—but sweet potatoes, yams, eggs, beans, seeds, and nuts appeal very strongly at times and not at all at other times.
My period is a wonderful reminder to rest, move slowly, not over-schedule my days. Watching my cycle helps me choose to lift weights if I feel strong and take hot showers if I do not. To stay up and discuss intricate details of narrative symbolism with my partner or put on comfy clothes and go to bed at 8:00pm, as needed. I’m learning when my best time is to write, socialize, work on a big project, make phone calls, read, have sex, and cook a huge batch of something to have in the freezer for when I don’t even want to look at the kitchen. When to play music all day and when to seek out quiet. It’s a process that makes me feel in my body in a way that I’ve always wanted, but never thought I could achieve.
So I greet my period with joy now. “Hello, friend! It’s so good to see you again!” I delight in hauling out wide-waistband leggings and my colorful collection of Lunapads.
This love for my period—and appreciation of my menstruating body—gives me hope for a truly body-positive future for myself. A future where judgement of myself and others and bodies falls away completely, and I can just revel in the natural goodness of it all.