The experience of menstruation is as varied as the menstruators. Our ideas about this monthly cycle come from our families, culture and society. And like most experiences in our modern world, there can be little or no time for us to form our own opinions based on our individual experiences . So we tend to adopt the idea that periods are just a hurdle in what could be a perfectly smooth month.
In a country like India there are diverse experiences of menstruation that carry themes of lack of privacy, stigma, lack of affordable hygienic products, misinformation, shame and exclusion to the point of dictating the lives and journeys of menstruators.
If we are not aware, the attitudes that are received externally might be internalised. So apart from experiencing a non conducive social atmosphere towards a natural process our bodies experience we also tend to develop a sense of frustration with this process ourselves. Customs and rituals that may have originated for varied purposes that could have possibly contributed towards the care of the menstruator and for personal hygiene sometimes now serve to put down and perpetuate a power dynamic between menstruators and non-menstruators.
In dealing with these external influences, the internal message our bodies play out every month can go unnoticed. If we look closely, our wise old uterus, reiterates these messages to us every month and would do well to pay attention.
“Live with Uncertainty”
We didn’t need Covid 19 to remind us about it, we are living with it every month!
Sometimes it is on time, sometimes late and sometimes it doesn’t make an appearance at all, while the reasons for this are varied the truth is that we are in a space where we experience anticipation with a dash of helplessness. And this happens almost every month. One is reminded of the importance of being prepared. Whether it is keeping a sanitary napkin handy, planning out travel, holidays, dates or life in general.
“Let go of control”
“You do not choose your period, your period chooses you”. Our period may be cyclical in nature and yes that does make it predictable, but it also just happens to us, unless aided externally we do not choose whether or not we have our period or when. We are reminded of the fact that no matter what there is always going to be an aspect of us and our bodies that we adapt to and cannot control.
“Vulnerability coexists with strength”
The experience of being emotionally vulnerable when we experience PMS as well as physically vulnerable as we endure the varying degrees of discomfort it brings walks with the strength of shouldering this experience, as we take on our roles and adhere to our routines. We literally demonstrate strength through our vulnerability and that says a lot!
“It is all a cycle”
When we look closely we can also acknowledge the cyclical nature of our beings. Be it changing seasons, phases of the moon or blooming flowers our internal cycle reminds us that we are part of the same process whether or not we like it ;).
It is interesting the messages we literally live out when we experience our monthly cycles. How would it be if instead of shunning the process and looking at menstruation as a dirty secret to be hidden, we look at it as a monthly process that helps us connect with the most basic instrument of discernment and feedback we have, our own bodies.
And instead of approaching ourselves with such a hassle could we change our attitudes to reflect care and love. The same kind of care and love we usually are quite comfortable showering on others and the kind of care and love our bodies are asking us to show ourselves.