Have you shared your first menstruation story with your daughter? Did your mother share hers with you? Here’s an extract from my book- Menarche, a Journey into Womanhood, with a few of my friends stories…… enjoy!
“So where do we start in all of this talk about becoming a woman?
I suggest you begin by asking your mum about her first period!
If you don’t have a mum, or can’t face asking her…who else could you ask? Maybe a grandmother, an aunty, a family friend, maybe one of your friends mums or older sisters?
You could even get some of your friends together, with their mums and ask them to share their stories with you all.
Here’s some first period stories from some of my friends!
“Whenever I have my period, I have the feeling that in spite of all the pain, discomfort and mess, I’m carrying around a sweet secret. So even though it’s a nuisance, in a certain way I’m always looking forward to the time when I’ll feel that secret inside me once again.” Anne Frank
I always had a deep respect for my ‘woman’s body’ – I don’t know where it stemmed from- certainly not my mother or sister, but I just knew there was something magical about it!! I must have had a sense it was connected to my cycle as I couldn’t wait to start my period- from about 9 years old I was desperate to get it!
When it came, at 11, I was surprised at these brown blobs in my knickers (I was expecting bright red blood), and my mother was confused that I was so happy- she said ‘that’s it now, you have to deal with that every month for years and years.’ She gave me a huge fat kotex pad. I had no rites of passage, no guidance, it was hidden away- not celebrated- it was shamed, called ‘the curse’. I was confused by how periods related to getting pregnant – even though we had been taught sex education in school- I just couldn’t get the connection from the eggs to the blood- how did they work together? I don’t recall any mention of the feelings that come with the hormone fluctuations, or any talk of emotions, just facts, and mention of moodiness with PMT and using pain killers to get through the cramps. I was one of the first in my class to get it- other girls said you could tell when someone was on their period because of the smell- I was so worried I smelled- but I couldn’t smell anything! I confided in the other girl in my class who had started too- we were both tall, with bigger breasts than the others, we had nothing else in common, but our periods bonded us.
I was sad that no one gave me any positive affirmation about this stage of my becoming a woman- inside I was excited and felt grown up, but no one else recognised that. I carried a loss about that into my late teens and early 20’s-and I tried to ease that loss by having relationships with older guys, bad boys who made me feel like I was a woman- when really I was still a girl. Luckily, when I was in my 20’s a group of women welcomed me and honoured me as a woman, sang to me, blessed me with oils, and finally supported me in recognising the wild woman I was! Rachael, West Wales
My first period; Oh they had told us about it in biology, shown us the things you put in your pants, told us how it happens, and that one day we would have it. But they didn’t tell us how it would feel, how it would change our lives, how it would open up a wonderful new chapter.
I started my period on the 12th January 1985, I remember it because of a song on Top of the Pops the same day! It was during a PE lesson at school, I felt a drip, I thought I was wetting myself, but when in the changing rooms afterwards, I took of my PE pants (that we had to wear over our normal knickers because of our silly short PE skirt) and there it was red and dark, a patch of period!
Well luckily it was last lesson, so I hurried home and told my sister, who gave me a pad. I told her not to tell Mom, it was my secret to be revealed by me! I remember my Mom was in bed in her darkened bedroom with a migraine, she had lots of them in those days. I went in to see her, and of course my sister had told her (never could keep a secret) I was a bit embarrassed, but my mom was there, with her hurty head, smiling, and said “congratulations you’re a woman now”
What? Me a woman? No, surely not I was but 12 and a half, I had very small breasts and a bizarre triangle of pubic hair, and now I was bleeding, but that didn’t make me a woman did it?
Then after a few days it stopped, and I was a child again. But things were changing. Every month, this magical flow, every month a box of “Vespre” sanitary towels would slowly empty. I was fascinated by it, but no one seemed to want to talk about it, I looked at the women in my life, and the women in the world around me, thinking to myself, they all have this, yet how come we don’t know? why was it sooooo secret and hidden? Why did people brush it aside and not talk about it? The girls at school talked about periods, but they mumbled the word, not wanting to speak it loudly. I went to an all girls’ school, and remember seeing on many occasions, girls on the “sick bench” curled up in pain, waiting for their parents to pick them up and take them home.
I was very lucky it seemed, yes I got period pain, but it was never curling up bad, all the books described mood swings, and pain, yes I got the mood swings, but not the pain as I had imagined, but still no one will talk about it.
Today there are books that do talk about it, that say that it’s not all bad, it’s part of BECOMING a woman.
I am now a mother, with 3 daughters of my own, and a step daughter who has recently started her journey to Womanhood, with her Menstruation, that really is a fabulous word, sounds much better than “Period” – more powerful to say “I’m Menstruating!” than “it’s THAT time of the month” my advice to my daughters is celebrate it, each is a stage of womanhood, you will only go through it once in your life, it is magical and wonderful. Suzanne Thomas, Ludlow, UK
My story is not anything outstanding, but I want to share it anyway. I was born in 1964, when things like that weren’t spoken of. I remember my girlfriend, Heather, got her period, and I was waiting for mine, never seemed to show. I was 13 when I finally got mine. I remember feeling uncomfortable that day at school, and was sitting out on the stage after gym class when I noticed blood between my legs. I was so embarrassed. I went to the washroom and cleaned up, and couldn’t wait to get home. I got home, changed my clothes and looked in my mother’s bathroom for a pad, then put it in place. I gathered courage and seeked her out, then she showed me how to use the elastic belt to hold the pad in place as we had never discussed it before. What a contraption! I remember thinking “this is it?”… a letdown. I saw her whispering on the street to our neighbour about how I got my period, but that was it. As I grew older and had children of my own, I always wanted to have a daughter (didn’t happen, but I was blessed with three wonderful boys) so that I could take her out and CELEBRATE her first period – just me and her. Celebrate her next phase in life – becoming a WOMAN, physically feeling a part of the cycle of our Mother Earth. I don’t believe it is something to be ashamed of, but something wonderful, signifying growth and change and new awareness. Six years ago I had a hysterectomy, so I no longer shed blood monthly. However, my body still recognizes the changes in each moon cycle, and I am grateful for that. Debbie Bryer Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada “
© 2014 Rachael Hertogs, All Rights Reserved