I am 35 years old now. I still remember the plight of that twelve year old girl I once was, as if it was yesterday. I went in the washroom to pee. I saw that there was blood on my underpants. Blood was oozing out of my private parts.
I am going to die, I am going to die. Scared for my life, I ran out of the washroom to my elder sister. “Di, something is wrong with me. Blood is coming out of my that part,” I said.
I remember my Di was with one of my cousin sisters.
Off the topic: In India, we use the cousin as an adjective and cousin sister/ brother is acceptable in Indian English.
Back to the main topic: Di and my cousin started giggling.
Has she lost her mind? How can an elder sister laugh at the impending death of her younger sister? I thought.
She held my hands, took me to my mother, and said, “Her periods have started.”
Periods. PERIODS. What is a period-s?
The first thing Ma said was, “Didn’t I tell you not to eat too much of jaggery? Jaggery produces heat in the body. That’s why your periods started at 12. You could have easily avoided periods for couple of more years.”
“But what the hell is period?” I asked.
“You are going to bleed from down there for 3-5 days every month,” my mother explained.
“For how long?”
“Till you will be 45-50 years old may be.”
“What the F-word?” I screamed. “Why God why? Why me?”
My mother explained to me, it’s not just me. Half of the world’s population suffers from the same epidemic. Month after month. Year after year.
This epidemic has different names. Menstrual cycle. Period. Or in India sometimes girls refer to this phenomena as “auntie.”
It’s like, “my auntie has come.” They say to the fellow victims both to gain sympathy and
as a sign of warning.
Why is it a warning?
She is not going to be her usual self for a few days.
Now, for me to accept this biological injustice nature has inflicted on me was even more painful because I have never been comfortable with my biological sex. I always believed that I am a boy trapped in a woman’s body. No kidding. I even have an anecdote around it.
When I was just a few months old, I caught some fever. It was severe. I was hospitalized. There was a boy who was also hospitalized and lay dying with similar fever on the next bed. Our parents were worried for both of us. And so were doctors. Somehow, the same night when the boy died, I recuperated from my illness.
During my growing up years, Ma often teased me, “That boy didn’t die. He entered in your body. You are possessed. You are not a girl. You are a boy!”
I grew up in a middle class family in India. I had never heard words like gay, lesbians, transgender, gender fluid, so there was no concept in my mind to understand the psychology of someone like me: someone who is not comfortable with his/her biological sex.
It’s only when I started studying clinical psychology in college and studied Carl Jung’s Anima- Animus concept, I felt some validity for my feeling of uneasiness I had felt with my biological sex my entire life.
Back to the main point:
First, I was not happy to be a woman.
Second, I will have to endure this pain for next 25-30 years because I am a woman.
This is not fair, God. This is not fair.
Of course, God didn’t change His/Her mind. I still suffer from periods.
Worst part, the blood I lose every month is not the end of the story. It’s just the tip of the iceberg of this Periods Business.
I am not allowed to enter in a temple or in the room where temple is situated in my home.
I am not supposed to touch basil or any other holy plant.
I am not supposed to touch enter in the kitchen.
The list is endless.
But even more severe than these restrictions is the whirlwind of mood I experience every month.
Those seven days!
Voh saat din!
Every single month, I am angry, depressed, anxious, and grouchy for no good reason for seven effing days.
I am a rational woman. Thinking is my primary function. I am not the emotional type. But during these seven days, my personality changes. Overnight. I behave clingy. If my tantrums are not acknowledged, I sulk, and sulk, and sulk. Why can I not be my normal self? I kept asking myself for years until...
After all these years, when NOW I have accepted that:
One, I am gender fluid. Only because I prefer thinking over feeling, career over family, I don’t become a boy. I still stay a girl who has different preference. Best part, now I accept that psychologically I can be a girl and a boy both. I am a girl and a boy. Anima and Animus. Yin and Yang.
Second, periods are NOT evil. It’s NOT my weakness. It’s my STRENGHT. Thanks to my period, I understand dichotomy in nature. I understand the dichotomy in my personality.
Every single month, I am forced to acknowledge the part of my personality that lives in the shadow of my mind. I have to become what I generally am not. And it’s by walking in those shoes, the shoes that are not comfortable to my feet, I become stronger.
My periods have made me a stronger woman. Today, when I understand Her better, I thank Mother Nature for my periods.
I allow myself to sulk.
I allow myself to feel my emotions.
I allow myself to be the girl I am.
I allow myself to eat dark chocolate.
I allow myself to enjoy— periods.
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