Call me a glutton for punishment, but I love my period. I love the charged emotions, fueling and draining me in the days leading up to it. I love tracking the cycle on my Clue© app. I love ovulating. I love the blood getting everywhere, reminding me I am alive.
This is not satire, you guys. This is my life.
It wasn’t always this way. I used to think periods were the worst: messy, embarrassing, trifling. Mine always seems to come when I have important things to do — like my honeymoon, for-the-effing-love! TMI — for years after my daughter was born, I couldn’t handle tampons, so for some activities, I was just out of luck. And I resented the hell out of my monthly cycle. I didn’t know much about it. Or anything about it. I mostly thought, “Please God, go away.”
Then one time it did go away when I was 19. Pregnancy, I learned, is the cure for hating your period. Who knew? I gave birth to a baby girl and I love her, but I was pretty determined to never let that happen again.
Call me a glutton for punishment, but I love my period.
It turns out, I can’t do birth control. I’m an emotional person as it is. I have actually cried in the following situations: depositing money, walking the dog, folding laundry, dancing, singing, and feeding our goldfish. Birth control for me was like PMS on steroids. I was walking around, all day long, cursing and crying. So, my period and I made peace with being frenemies.
And it would have stayed that way. But one soggy, premenstrual, Saturday afternoon a couple of years ago I came across a TEDx Talk by Alisa Vitti about learning to love your lady parts. Perhaps because it’s not an option for me to take a magic pill, I was especially open to it. She proposed that women have certain heightened senses and abilities during the four phases of the menstrual cycle. And that’s just cool.
In the first phase — the “follicular phase,” apparently — our eggs are coming to maturity, and somehow because of the magic of Mother Nature, we have increased access to creativity. It is a perfect time to dream up your TEDx Talk. Or start a painting.
The next phase, ovulation (you may have heard of it), turns out to be useful for things besides making babies. This is the phase when women have the most energy and, randomly, the best communication skills. We are compelling and magnetic. Vitti suggests asking for a raise during this part of your cycle. It might be a great time to start a podcast or have that hard conversation with a loved one.
The third phase, called the luteal phase, gets a bad rap. Vitti would like people to know that PMS is not the norm, rather, it’s a sign that something is wrong. You shouldn’t feel like the cat dragged you in. And if you do, there are things you can do to drag yourself back out. At this time of the month, our stores of B vitamins spring into action. This helps with focus on details potentially overlooked at other times of the month. Declutter your bedroom, clean out your inbox. Point all of your hangers in the same direction, because we are not animals.
And of course, that leaves the actual period phase. Okay, honestly, I don’t love this phase. Yes, blood is the incredible stuff of life, but it’s still gross. Stay with me, though. Interestingly, Vitti points out that during this time of the month, interaction between the right and left hemispheres of the brain increases. It’s a good time to rest, reflect, and course-correct, if necessary. This may not be the most endearing phase, but we need it.
Toward the end of her talk, Vitti shares this quote by Gloria Steinem: “Girls are taught to view their bodies as unending projects to work on, whereas boys from a young age, are taught to view their bodies as tools to master their environment.” Oh, woman. Hits me right in the ovaries.
With this newfound knowledge, I found myself falling in love with my cycle. When my daughter got hers at age 12, I baked her cookies and we watched the TEDx talk together. It felt like a form of rebellion, like sticking it to The Man. I’ve begun to see it as an opportunity to teach other women and girls how to use our bodies (of all things) to smite the patriarchy. And bonus: It freaks men out.