Since the day I got my period, when I was twelve years old and in the sixth grade, I have been counting the days until menopause would grace me with its presence. I’ve waited 37 years for this, and now… you are failing me. I have always held the strong belief that fertility should be a choice, something that if you really wanted the burden of childbearing, you would have to take a pill or flip a switch to endure. I know this is not a popular belief, as there are actually some women who have gladly exchanged this inconvenience for the blessing of children, and others who would choose to bleed every day if only they COULD be so blessed. But seriously, why should someone who never wanted children be forced to face month after month of discomfort, inconvenience, mess, and expense? Nearly four decades later, and I am still rather miffed about this evolutionary slap in the face.
You’d think I would feel differently, having discovered the goddess path in my early twenties, but alas… no. I would hear women talk about their ‘moon cycle’ or their ‘red tent’ moments, and try my best to adopt a positive view of what always felt like more of a curse. “The curse has come upon me!, she cried… The Lady of Shalott” (makes me wonder what Tennyson knew about either bleeding or having children forced through a tiny hole in his gut)… now I think I’ll go lie down in the boat and wait to bleed out. Sheesh! I did find it funny to realize that in a certain faith, men and women were expected to give up something each year as a symbol of reverence and commitment to honor the sacrificial king, when women were literally giving up their life’s blood at the drop of a hat, or rather the drop of an egg. Clearly, men should get to do a forced blood letting on a monthly basis in order to keep up with the species that is always giving more than their share.
Perhaps I would feel differently if the religious right felt the seed of man was as ‘holy’ as my own, and regulate and limit ‘his’ right to choose how he would spill his semen upon the earth. But no… pregnancy by rape or by love, though unwanted is demanded to be carried as a stain upon a woman’s soul, while no burden or shame shall ever be placed upon the penis that put it there. If you think I feel bitter and outraged, you are right! I have been free from this bloody curse for an entire year… until the fall of midnight on the morning of June 11. F you, menopause! Now, the glorious countdown to freedom has to start all over again… and I hate math!
I guess I should be relieved that the gut wrenching pain I suffered several days back was not actually my body being empathetic to two friends having abdominal surgery that day, and that my nipples haven’t been aching because I’ve developed some kind of bilateral, fast moving breast cancer. Shew… it’s not cancer, it’s just the f*ing curse of fertility, back to torment me… like Buffy being ripped out of heaven and brought back into the demon dimension of hell on earth. Too soon?
Perhaps I would feel less bitter if I’d not lived most of my life feeling a sense of body betrayal and self-loathing. With a diagnosis of poly cystic ovarian syndrome in my early twenties which blessed me with rapid weight gain and insulin resistance, I put on a hundred pounds in four years without ever consuming enough calories to put weight on the most sloth-like being. Despite a hundred different programs, pills, and even surgery… my body never lets go of her claim on the fat cells she harvested through these lumpy ovaries.
Sigh… but alas… I have spent the last several years cultivating self-love. I have worked hard to reprogram the negative voice that once lived inside my head, constantly reminding me that I am not good enough, that I am not thin enough, that I am not pretty enough, that I am not smart enough, that I am not working hard enough, that I am not sacrificing enough, that I am not worthy of being loved, that no man will love a fat woman, that I don’t deserve the happiness of others whose bodies never betrayed them, that never ending barrage of hateful, unkind, unloving language that would never roll off my tongue to harm another living soul… only mine. That old voice has been silenced, finally.
So here’s how I shall interpret the swelling of my belly and the shedding of dark flesh from inside my womb. I am transforming! I am becoming something new. I am leaving behind that which no longer serves me, and it is being scraped out from the inside… flushing away from this sacred vessel, cleansed by water and transmuted by Mother Earth, into something healed and refreshed. In April, the shedding occurred on the outside, through an angry dermatitis, and now… the work is just being wrapped up, on my behalf. Here you go, dear… let’s just be done with this bit of outdated flesh. It can’t hurt you, if you just send it love!
Okay, then. I’m marking my calendar, and unlike in my youth, when I prayed that my period would come… I’ll say a little prayer that the lining of my uterus and I will never have to meet again. I shall commit it to holding. Not holding the loathing and distaste of old, but of something much healthier. Let her hold onto the light of my love, and the healing red of root and orange of sacral chakra energy, and from there… let her energy bring birth to creativity, with words that flow freely rather than blood, and new projects that bring enlightenment, empowerment, and prosperity for self and community. I will take this life blood and pour it onto the earth as my prayer, as I did at the full moon in May of 2000 in dedication to Artemis, with a promise to “open up and let a piece of myself fall away”. Okay, great lady. I hear you. I am allowing this last remaining bit of false belief and bitterness to fall away from my body, never to be entertained again. I promise.
Beloved vessel of loving expression, I commit to you that all of my words shall come to you with love. Body of the universe, I vow to hold sacred every curve and every curl. Sacred being, I promise to love you, cherish you, hold you close, to always be honest and express my truth, and will never ask you to endure suffering from self or others, for you have done your time, and I am choosing to set you free. With this freedom, I find a release of tension in my belly, and I am finally able to breathe, and perhaps to sleep. The rage has passed, and we have earned a dark chocolate reward. May peace be with me, and also with you. Amen and Blessed be.
(The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse – my favorite non-living artist)