Posted on: 14 February 2018
Every Valentine’s day, I think about the relationships I have in my life: the ones I’m grateful for, the ones that seem to take up a little too much energy, and the ones I still want to have. I think about what they give me and in return what parts of myself I give to them. This year was no different, until a few days ago, when I felt my body gearing up to have a whole other kind of relationship over the next few days. Hello Valentine’s period.
Because of the type of contraception, I use, I don’t often have periods – a choice which when you consider how they affect my body, seems pretty sensible. On the whole, this approach has worked for me for the last nine years barring a short stint with the implant which turned out to be a terrible mistake. My periods, when they do come, are sporadic, painful and to be honest, render me a bit useless. But here’s the thing: I kind of like it.
I know that seems like a hugely controversial thing to say, and to the women out there who have periods who do this to them and take over their lives, I have nothing but respect for your ability to just get on with it. It’s what we are told to do, expected to do, and for the most part, we go along with it.
But my period is so sporadic – I went three years without one – that over the last 12-18 months, I have started to have a whole different relationship with this bloody little war that goes on in secret as I go about my daily life.
I am, by my nature, a person who is always ‘too busy’. I don’t say this with pride – as I know busyness has become some sort of millennial badge of pride over the last few years – but with a sense of acknowledgment that it is my vice. I want to do so many things and so the ability to say no and to engage with the actual limits of time doesn’t factor in to my plans. Except when I’m on my period, when the blood has to come first.
It might seem strange, but to me the sign of reaching for my biggest pyjamas and promoting my hot water bottle to best friend status reminds me that over the next few days I need to be gentle and kind to my body. I need to forgive myself when I can’t remember words because my brain feels a little bit slower, and when the idea of going to the gym and being around actual other functional people makes me come out in hives.
Because I cannot not bleed (believe me, I’ve tried), I cannot not hurt and ache and feel like there are a million tiny knives in my uterus. And because I cannot do those things, sometimes I cannot not cry for an hour and cling on to my wonderful boyfriend and wonder why on earth my brain isn’t working the logical way it did three days ago. And because I cannot not do all of that, what I have finally found I can do is say no, and make my peace with that.
Every woman has her own relationship with her period. Some find that the extra hormones and connection with their body when they are bleeding makes them feel like they can run the world. Some have chosen to stop it so they can feel like days are more manageable when they are able to walk and not feel like passing out. Some women have everything crossed they don’t see a period this month and some women pray they do. But for me, my period is a friend because it stops me in my tracks, and I have learnt and am still learning that’s ok.
So, here’s to my Valentine’s period – for reminding me that my relationship with my body should always come before my relationship with my diary.
(And also to my boyfriend, because I really do cling to him, and I really do cry.)