With all this talk, in South Africa, of blood and flesh, discomfort and anger, repulsion and fear, I find it fitting to speak of a more personal bleeding, the kind that unites us as women void of our colour, class or creed . The period. My period. Her period. Our bleeding.
I started my period at about 13 years old. Once a month for the last 13 years of my life, 156 months, +- 4 days of bleeding a month. For the first 6 months I used a sanitary towel. I was young and nervous and willing to listen to the first suggestion that was handed to me. My mother passed on her pearls of wisdom. She told me about sanitary towels and tampons. She told me about toxic-shock syndrome, an infection caused by the additives in the material used to make tampons. But she also told me that I need not worry about getting it because the tampon had been redesigned in such a way to avoid disease and infection back when she was young.
With the coming of my period came myriad initiation ideas from my mother. She wanted my gran, my aunt, my sister and I to meet and celebrate my blood. She wanted to sacrifice a chicken, buy one, have me kill it, pluck it and prepare it for eating. She wanted me to run into the ocean naked and bleeding to wash my body of, I don’t know what. My mother is quite and eccentric woman. She is wonderful and overflows with all of the ingredients that a woman needs to be the absolute best mother in the universe.
So there I was 13 years old, using pads. After a few months, I was told that I had to wear tampons. I was a performer and performers needed to be presentable at the times. I wore leotards and flew through the air high up where people might be able to see the slight, but quite clearly there, bulge in my underwear as I swung around on the double trapeze doing death-defying tricks in the Zip Zap Circus.
Tampons. I have been using tampons every +- 4 days since the change from pads 6 months after my first period at 13 years old. 150 months of bleeding and using a compact, neat little piece of cotton wool to absorb my blood and any other natural vaginal fluid. 150 months, +- 4 days of bleeding a months and up to maybe 4 tampons a day. What an absolute mission. I know women who bleed for longer and more heavily than I do, some women bleed for up to a week, 7 days of tampons and some might have to use a tampon and a pad. Really, is this the best that ‘they’, the manufacturers of sanitary wear, could do for us? Two options, both leaving you feeling like a battlefield. Bleeding and poking and prodding and smelling and sliding and drying and generally making the vagina feel like a NO GO ZONE.
For so long I believed that I changed when I had my period. I believed what ‘they’ said. I believed that I became more sensitive, less active, more inward, less sexy. I believed this +-4 days a month for 13 years, that’s 624 days of my life. That is almost 2 whole years of my life on top of all the other bullshit that I have to contend with as a woman. It’s too much.
My blood is as precious and beautiful as my tears, my hiccup, my sneeze, my yawn, my fart, my spit, my smell, my skin. It’s a part of my unique creation. My blood is necessary, without it there is no life, no creation, no wonder, no growth. I and you, have all the reasons in the world to celebrate our bleeding.
3 months ago I bought myself a mooncup. A mooncup is a little silicone antibacterial cup designed to catch and hold your blood. It comes in different sizes for different flows and women and is created in such a way that is unfolds inside you and sits there, invisible, non intrusive, quiet, stringless and wonderful while you live your life. Swim, run, jump, dance, handstand, type, skip, gym and feel feminine and sexy.
For the first time EVER I feel human while on my period. There is no little mouse tail hanging from my magical space reminding me that the walls of my insides are tearing layer by layer and slowly escaping though my opening. There is no pad, hot and sticky adding a sound track to my lazy lope. I am free to feel like me with my mooncup. I forget about the things that ‘they’ say I should feel and I am free to feel exactly the way I feel every other day of my life, happy, sad, angry, excited, inspired, sexy, fun.
This is how I want the rest of my bleeding to feel. Every month until my bleeding stops, I want to feel free to be me.