The year was 2013. I was heavy into my trying-very-hard-to-look-like-Ariana-Grande phase, shy as shit, and pretty damn awkward.
The day, Easter, I do not have a religion and my family is not religious, but somehow we use Catholic holidays as excuses to get together.
I was wearing what can only be described as a groutfit. Complete with a free shirt I had received at a local auto body shop, for some godforsaken reason. If you think this was my outfit of the day, you’ve been mistaken, these are my pajamas. Bitch even at 13 I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a groutfit, I’ve always been dressing.
Anyhow, I was laying on my couch, probably with an attitude, when suddenly my groutfit was tarnished with the gift of ‘womanhood’ I use this phrase sarcastically for it is not only women who get periods and honey this was not a gift.
It’s taken me six years to be O.K. with talking about this, although I do have to admit there are quite a few unpublished drafts of this very story that I’ve been hesitant to publish.
Now is the part where I cannot be funny because this was not funny. So, I get my period, tentatively go to my mother and tell her whilst SOBBING mind you, also I’m very reserved or was-still kinda am-and would have rather died than tell my mother anything personal. She gives me a fucking gigantic pad and tells me to shower.
Now imagine me sobbing into the full-length mirror in my bathroom, I take that damn shower, and remind myself “I’ll never be a kid again”.
These were moments I felt very alone. I had a hard time going through puberty. When I started getting boobs (breasts? idc BOOBS) I HATED them, it took me until pretty recently to not mind these things. What’s worse is all my friends were excited, they shared tips on how to get bigger ones and all couldn’t wait to go to some cheesy store in the mall and get an even cheesier first bra.
Now back to the part that makes me not publish any of these drafts-my period. I used to cringe in horror (this is the least dramatic way of saying it) every time I could, uh, feel it. I hated that I didn’t have control. For a very long time, I felt I had surrendered my body to the notion of ‘womanhood’. Which was hard for someone who knew since a very early age I never wanted children of my own, hell I never even dreamed of getting married-well perhaps I imagined the dress I’d wear, which was always short and red in my head by the way-ah we LOVE a metaphor. Some English class needs to spend 40 hours close reading this.
But in all seriousness: I ended up resorting to punching myself in my lower abdomen everytime I got my period. I’m not sure why…it was a control thing or lack there-of. I felt like my body was not mine. I didn’t think about that as harmful until recently. My research of the matter came through 2013 Instagram, which was composed of thirteen-year-olds sharing unhealthy tactics for “how to get rid of your period”. My entire feed was made up of people I didn’t know all of whom had eating disorders that were unfortunately encouraged by their followers. One person, in particular, I took note of, a person who had gotten their period and was adamant on becoming under a hundred pounds as to not get it anymore.
I took this to heart. I believed I could push my weight down so I’d stop getting my period too. I resorted to body measuring. Making sure I could wrap my hand around my thigh so my fingers could touch each other. I felt extreme shame after eating anything sweet. I began reading calories and counting them. These all followed me into high school, including a period of time where I’d eat spoonfuls and spoonfuls of Nutella after track practice until I felt sick. Or the time before some school dance where I only consumed a single fry for the day. I’d workout in friend’s and relative’s bathrooms after eating anything, in hopes I could burn off what I ate.
I wish I could check in on that person who unknowingly introduced 13 year old me to this “strategy”. I hope, wherever they are, they are ok-just putting that into the universe as unfortunately they have been lost in the neverending dimension that is Instagram.
I do have to admit I still find myself wrapping my hands around my thigh, as more so a comfort thing than anything. I don’t love getting my period, but I’m in way more control now. And as for food, veganism did a great fucking job in saving me from the calorie-counting-obsessive-working-out HELL I had restricted myself to. It also made my periods like four days long.
I’m writing this for a couple of reasons. 1) to bury a past that I never quite resolved. 2) To share an experience I know I’m not the only one that went through.
Bodies are bodies. Simple (well actually complex) structures for us to exist in. Someone somewhere decided to make that a living hell, for some a political debate. This is a personal tale, one I’m finally ok with sharing. I have more to say, but I do not feel I have the acquired knowledge to say right now. All I must say is that what you are taught is not always truth.
Anyways I’m sending love as always. Thank you for letting me get personal. I PROMISE I’ll never do it again :-).