I was at home having great time talking with my dad and younger sister around the kitchen table when suddenly, the symptoms of “day one” hit me.
And I tried to act like it didn’t feel like someone had started scraping out my abdominal cavity with a serrated spoon. (Which didn’t really work.)
Being female really sucks sometimes, and on day one, I tend to feel like we female body types received the rougher biological allotment. Not that males don’t have it rough in other respects. But menstrual cramps, man. I’ve once heard it described as giving birth to the lining of one of your internal organs, which I feel is accurate. I try to pretend I’m all intense, bleeding and hurting and whatnot and being like, “Psh, this is normal.”
But on day one, when the cramps are worst and ibuprofen-resistant, I just kind of mill around dead-eyed and think, “Why?” Heaven forbid it happens on a demanding day—which, sometimes, it does. And that’s the worst.
So yesterday, I put off going back to school longer than expected because I didn’t want to drive 45 minutes with the distraction of my internal organs creaking and groaning like wood about to crack in two.
My little sister suggested a heat pack, so I planted myself in the living room with said device across my middle. It felt good. My dad was also in the room. A part of me thought I should remove myself from his presence or continue to pretend I wasn’t hurting. Because who wants to face blatant signs of everything menstruation means?
But the thing is, he knows what it is, and he doesn’t seem too worried about the nature of this weirdly taboo subject. American society talks about sex all the time, why should menstrual cramps be something to be ashamed of and tough out in silence? I mean, I wasn’t whining excessively about it. I was sitting quietly on the couch with a heat pack, typing away on my laptop. I was dealing with it. This was normal.
In high school, in the early days of this feature of female biological maturity, I used to get bad cramps for a good two or three days of the cycle. And one day my friend, who happened to be a boy, noticed I looked like I wanted to die, and he kept pressing me if I felt all right, trying to figure out what was wrong. I said I didn’t feel good, but he didn’t want to accept such ambiguity, because he was worried about me.
Still, I couldn’t bring myself to admit it—though I assume he got the message eventually. Now, I kind of wish I had told him outright. Because I was ashamed of it back then. I didn’t want anyone to know. Like no one seriously believes that women face this monthly process.
I felt like crap because my uterus was freaking out. I shouldn’t be ashamed. None of us should be ashamed.
Obviously, puberty is strange and horrifying so I can’t really beat myself up too much about those days. But still, I’ve started to appreciate honesty quite a bit.
Including biological honesty.