I am stuck, stagnant, waiting for something that might not come.
I am moving through a threshold into a new way of being.
I am holding on to a way that I’ve known for decades, afraid to do differently.
I am growing older, changing, moving, growing.
I am growing older, smaller, less.
I know this: I have been holding anger like the rancid water at the bottom of a vase of flowers that wilted weeks ago. When I reached out to a friend, confused and frustrated by being stuck so often in this space, she tenderly but lightly reminded me not to forget “Peri.” Indeed, I have not had my period for at least two months – though I sense the possibility of it lurking just out of reach. I know something is happening, that my body/mind/spirit is changing in ways mysterious and powerful – as much so as when I was pregnant or when I started my period on Mother’s Day 35 years ago. And yet, I forget. Smart as I seemingly am, I forget. And I dismiss. It’s easier to blame myself for being crazy or ornery or just plain mean .
Another friend complains of exhaustion – so tired she wants to curl up under her desk. She has her period again and again – twice a month. Another version of the same thing – just like no two pregnancies are the same. One person craves mustard, another gags at the thought. Her body is sloughing eggs as quickly as possible: Pick me! Pick me! There’s still time!
“You know how we were studying puberty, and I thought we were done?” my daughter says after school. “It turns out we’re doing it every other week!” What she’d thought was one week of worksheets about animals versus humans and questions for me about my own adolescence is now turning out to be several weeks of scary looking drawings and new words that she doesn’t want to think about.
“It’s just bodies,” I say lightly and brightly – totally believing myself when it comes to her body, her journey. “Bodies are weird and wonderful!” She tells me that’s what her teacher said, too, but she clearly doesn’t agree.
Why is it so hard for us to make peace with these changes? Maybe it’s because we get used to one way of being and then it’s time to move on to the next. We shed layer after layer. Whether we want to or not. And yet we resist. When Mrs. Sjolund, the teacher responsible for teaching my fifth grade friends and me about “men-stroo-ation” (as the film called it – not Mrs. Sjolund, she was pretty hip) described the cycle as a monthly shedding of the uterine wall, I was thoroughly grossed out. A part of me falls away each month in some kind of bloody slime that comes out in my underwear? I was appalled.
Yet every month, it’s been a chance to begin again. A gentle re-set on the Big Button of Life. Every month you’re reminded that forces greater than the all mighty Mind are at work. There’s the wonder of being in step with your roommates and, when a full moon comes, seemingly with half the female population. There’s the sense of growing rounder and fuller each month and then the purging – an expansion and drawing in. Over and over.
Now what? I want to believe I’ll keep flowing – in essence though in a new way. I can’t see how this will happen yet. I’m afraid of simply withering on the vine. I wish someone would send a worksheet home with some talking points …