It has been a good 37 years that I have been dating my menstrual, periods, as we call it. Seen and been through it all is what I feel but there is so much more to understand and know. I was told during the training I got in my first month bleeding that one fine day, when I turn around 45 or so, this would stop, I would be free of it, I am still waiting to be free. I have moved well into my 50th year and am still going good. My menstrual dating is the most sturdy relationship I have had amongst all others.
So, let me give you a peak into my life that will give you a better understanding of how we are trained to not understand our body and menstrual system. So, if you are reading this, a girl can start these practices now and if you are a guy, it is even more important because you would be able to stand by your mother, sister, girl friend, friends and any female in your life in the most helpful way.
So, in 1983, when I got my periods for the first time, living in an anglo Indian populated locality (Benson Town, Bangalore), my father was considered the most rebellious in my traditional sunni muslim family, to not just send me to an English convent school but also to not keep me locked in a room for getting my periods. In fact, it was my father, I walked up to and told him that I was bleeding and the things started unfolding for me. The most scary thing that happened for me at that point of time was my grandmother coming with a cloth and a waist thread, asking me to tie it around my waist and use the cloth for my bleeding and an additional one in her hand, for me to wash and re-use. I still remember me stunned out of my guts on “why the fuck would I wash my blood of that cloth and re-use it on me?” every ounce inside me said to me that it was unhealthy, it was disgusting and I was not doing it. I remember I sat in the loo for the next 4 hours, not wanting to use the cloth or come out of there.
It was my father, who was actually called to take me out of the loo and I came outside, with that cloth tucked into my panties but not willing to re-use or continue doing that. I had weeped for hours, I was scared, I was alone and I was unaware of what was happening to me. I felt I was dying that day, That day, my father did something very brave, which even today, I think I love him so much for that. He held my hand and took me out, behind him, his mother-in-law, his wife, everyone kept yelling at him, for taking me out of the house, for not listening to them, for getting involved with the ladies stuff, but he paid little attention to them, he had only one person as his interest & it was me. He took me out of the house, drove me up to one of his friend who was an English man with an Indian wife living around Frazer Town. We did not say a word in the car. I went in and he told them the problem and the wife took me to the room and she gave me a sanitary pad. I looked at it with confusion. She pulled out one of her panties from the drawers, placed the pad on it and showed me how to use it. I went to the loo and did the same and when I returned, she sat me down and spoke to me for an hour. She told me about how I had to be careful about my body, about sex because now I could get pregnant and thereon she also added that I would have to respect the society that I was in and let the family do what they have to do.
That day when I walked out of that room, I hugged my dad and cried like a 4 year old toddler not wanting to leave the parent to be left in school. I knew nothing was to be the same again, but I believed he would be the same. He was my anchor. He drove me back with all the ground rules on how we together will handle the family monsters waiting for us at home, what would be my sos calls for him. What I will fight and what I will not. Also, from that month on wards, my sanitary pads were imported to India for the next 3-4 years till we could purchase it here easily. Let us choose to let go of the comments I have heard my mother & grand mother give my father, every time there would some financial crises, they would bring it up on how he was wasting money on my sanitary pads from abroad. (hahahah… yeah… abroad it was)
So, even today we know that cloths, are not healthy for us, that we cannot wash and reuse them for our periods. You know it too, so don’t give in for any thing. I am sure not many who read here would be using cloths, but I have in my connections, who live in rural India and many living in urban India but are mentally backward when it comes to family pressure, do not let that affect this decision of yours. It is your body & your choice to be healthy about it
I was married at 17 but I was already labelled with a legacy that I was conceived after 15 years of marriage and that meant, that from the first month, my in-laws, my mother and her mother with my aunts all feared that I had it in my genes to not have a baby, so the moment I was married, the family prayers were initiated and within a year, I was being taken to a gynaecologist for treatments to get pregnant. Funny how it is that my newly married husband was not ever asked to be tested. Anyway, coming back to us, I was induced with hormones and all kind of medications for conceiving. At the age of 19 years, my periods and the menstrual cycle was being fucked royally by doctors and family members expectations. Fast forward by 6 years from then, I was a mother of 3 but a body system that was so messed up that I had very heavy flow, month on month, cramps that would kill me for the first 2 days & let us not talk much about the emotional breakdowns, binge eating. I had touched 112 kgs, looked like an over stuffed cabbage and had no control over my reactions of anything that was just a bit challenging. I was just going on with it, we kind of settle into our miseries as well after some time. I was by now a very strong believer that my body type was obese, I was an emotional chaos as a person and I would die a “Fat old lady”.
So, here I am, a question mark to the same people who once believed and did the things that they did, not just to me, but to every girl that is born in the family & strangely they still continue to influence the younger generations, who are willing to abide with elderly advice. I was a rebel then, I am bloody well now.
Today, I am on the path of reaching my weight goal of 65 kgs, loosing a good 3kgs / month, I get my periods on time, I don’t get heavy flow, I workout even on day 1 & 2, I don’t binge eat, I am not an emotional reck, I meditate, I read, listen to music, I do all that, that makes me feel special, especially during those 5 days, I am everything what a woman is and I am very proud of being that.
But what the ladies of the family don’t understand is, how my body seems to not be closing in to a menopause, how I still get the 4 day heavy flow and 6 day periods on the exact date, monthly, how I do not get the cramps anymore, how I can be sexually active and desiring when I am suppose to be preparing myself for the menopause. So, It is a beautiful journey to understand your body, to speak with it and to relate your existence with your body and soul and lead a healthy life till you are in it. So what if we are the women, the humans that bleed once a month, let us bleed with pride & lead with health and love.
Things that I would request all women to do without fail from today
- Do your bit of daily physical activities (walks, run, exercise or just stretch)
- Eat less & healthy (just stop on oil, sweets, carbs & packaged stuff)
- Have safe sex (use condoms, even with husband / boyfriend)
- Spend 1 hr daily to do what you love doing (not children, family or even friend, JUST YOUR choice)
- Maintain a calm mindset at all times (no challenge is worth your peace of mind)