I’m fairly new here at the Atelier as most of you loyal readers already know… When I met Garance last November, I had been working in a male dominated industry for a decade and deciding to take a totally different job in an office full of women was no small deal for me. One advantage I hadn’t really considered was how free I would finally be to talk about my period. I spent 10 years pretending I didn’t have them, feeling like shit 3 days a month and not really feeling comfortable telling my boss or my coworkers why. Being able to tell Emily and Nat that I have cramps and a migraine and it’s because I’m menstruating, and knowing they understand, has changed my professional life. In the spirit of the great feeling that comes with being open about your period, a select few in the Atelier are discussing their symptoms and dispelling, or accepting, some of the stereotypes about the very thing that defines us as women.
You get used to it coming every month…
I think the most striking thing about my period, other than the sharp pains I’ve managed to calm in recent years thanks to yoga and acupuncture (I don’t have to take Advil anymore, woohoo!) is that every time, I mean EVERY time, my period comes as a surprise.
But it’s as regular as Kim Kardashian’s eyebrows. 28 days, poof, there it is.
And I’ve got at least five different apps tracking my cycle.
And I get PMS like crazy – what better way to refresh my memory?
And Chris, who’s had enough of my mood swings, follows the rhythms of the moon on his watch (yes, he has a beautiful watch that displays the moon, it’s an Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch) and knows
when it’s time to back away when I’m going to have my period before I do.
But even so, I’m always taken by surprise. Every time, it’s a catastrophe: I’m out of tampons (which is even more of a pain now that I’ve decided to only use organic cotton tampons and they don’t have them at the CVS on the corner), I’m afraid of being in pain, I cry when I catch the slightest glimpse of a cat photo on Instagram (no, but seriously, Chris, isn’t life beautiful?!)(he’s not even there, actually, he’s long gone, surfing for three days because he KNOWS)(but that’s okay, I’ll tell him by text with a loooong string of blue messages that no one will ever answer), it’s raining, and I’m wearing white jeans.
It’s okay, that’s just life. I’m like Lulu, our dog, who was playing with her ball all by herself on the beach yesterday like a big girl, pretending to lose it and then jumping for joy when she found it again.
I like adventure, I like surprises, I like living my life as a woman dangerously, you know?
I hate my period…
MJ our intern, 51:
I was 15 years seven months when my first menstrual cycle arrived, I remember vividly. Throughout high school and college, I hated that time of the month! Amid the wicked symptoms of migraines, bloating and cramps, I begged for there to be a greater purpose that would be revealed to me. Though it was hard to imagine anything beyond the discomfort as a young woman. But as the decades marched on, those symptoms softened. I had a baby. My period became a reliable non-event although one I began to cherish, for without it, the miracle of life would cease to exist. As my monthly cycle journeys on its farewell tour, I am savoring this essence of womanhood. The raging symptoms of yesteryear have returned lingering much longer than before. Yet with age and experience, I no longer allow my period to disrupt my life as it once did when I was a teenager. My perimenopausal body is in overdrive creating a final menstrual imprint so that I will never forget the tender feeling of femininity. It is a glorious phenomenon that I am sad to say goodbye to.
PMS makes you crazy…
I so badly wish that I could write something for you that would dispel the idea that PMS makes you a crazy b!tc#. The truth is, I can’t. I am THE stereotypical example of PMS. It starts (and lasts, on and off) 10 days before I get my period. Like clockwork, I find myself scowling at my innocent coworkers (sorry guys I don’t mean it), flailing my hands in the air in disbelief (about what, I’m not sure), and getting miffed at my sister texting me things like, “I miss you let’s hang out this week” (how dare she). So yeah, PMS makes me a total psycho. All that to say, I push through it, make sure to take a few extra deep breaths throughout the day, and remember to look back and laugh at my monstrous behavior while hoping I still have friends!
Any outward sign of my period is mortifying…
In the spirit of keeping things real, I’ll put it like this: bleeding from your vagina on a monthly basis can get messy, no matter how well-mannered or intentioned we are. But I have decided to once and for all stop beating myself up over things like leaks. It happens! Sometimes my period is heavier than usual and I’m running around on the job and don’t change my tampon in time. Whatever it is, I’ve learned to embrace the situation with no shame. I’m a woman, I’m not perfect, and this monthly menstruation is one of the many beautiful, complex systems our bodies perform. I’m certainly not going to let a stain ruin my whole day, so anyone who sees it will just need to deal!
P.S. on the subject of tampons and changing them, whether it’s at your office or at home with your boyfriend, no need to hide it away in a secret smuggle to the restroom – carry that with pride! Femininity is more than red lipstick and well-tailored skirts.