Here’s what it’s like: I walk around all day with a secret that there may be two people living in this skin. Its a secret kept from me and from all the people I see. I try to be open to this possibility and try to hold a space for it to be true. What also might be true is that I might start bleeding at any moment. I grew up in a time where we were taught that our periods should be a secret, and we should be discreet about using the necessary products we need. I read in a recent study 86% of American women have started their period unexpectedly in public without the supplies they needed, we all have a story like that. Trying to conceive has made me painfully aware of the day and hour I might start and so I am always prepared…with supplies. Month after month I find that I am not emotionally prepared to carry this secret, its a grief that takes me to my knees. When I have sixteen 5th and 6th graders counting on me to teach them a beautiful ballet dance with energy and enthusiasm is not a good time to have to run to the potty and learn that I am not pregnant again this month. I am not growing a person.
This is what women do. We quietly bleed, alone in a stall, and then pull ourselves together and do the thing we have scheduled to do. Today after this news reached my awareness I gave 3 more massages and delayed the grieving of the loss until I could fall apart in the safety of my home with my dear sweet groom. Most women begin menstruating at around age 13, I was pretty lucky to bloom late at age 15. If I have my period for 5 days each month that’s 60 days a year, and multiply that by 21 years= I have spent 3.45 years of my life bleeding. These last two years the arrival of aunt flo has been a sign of defeat and loss, up until we started trying to I didn’t tell anyone about it.
Do you tell people when you start? We tell people close to us that we are cranky and crampy often as an explanation of why we can’t come to something. Many of my close friends can expect a text announcement of my cycle starting. When I was in High School we had a deal within our little group that we would buy each other a nice pen each month when our cycles began, as a consolation prize. Wait, what? You didn’t give pens as gifts? Well we felt that we each deserved to be celebrated and comforted when we were suffering. (These women are obviously still my friends, totally keepers) Today I booked myself a grown-ass-woman consolation prize.
Did I ever tell you that at the age of 30 I picked up a new hobby, I started dancing en Pointe. Turns out most women retire from such things by that age, though I know a couple gals my age still doing it. So I figured that since I’m not going to become large with child this month I should have pictures of my fit figure dancing en Pointe. The woman who is taking my photos is a glorious human who makes you feel like a queen on shoots, and she captures something in you that you thought might be there but weren’t sure. I hope these photos are a reminder to me as I go forward in this journey that I was brave and strong during this suffering. I also have been asked to help tell a story with dance on Easter Sunday at my church. I have a story to tell.
The God I know is not a stranger to suffering. He surrendered his rights and was killed on a tree. He was innocent. When I pray and ask God where He was in a tragedy I succinctly hear “I was there”, He has promised to be near to suffering. I can not explain why so many kinds of sadness and pain are every which way we turn, I see no algorithm for this senseless distress. I also can not make a star, or boss the sun to rise or set, or train a flower to bloom. I can not cause a baby person to join my family by sheer will, I’m just a person. I can dance, and I can pray, and I can call my friends and we will probably get through this.
*Have I been listening to Taylor Swift’s reputation nonstop on spotify? Yes indeed, and I’m not even a little sorry.