let’s get drunk and talk about periods

So here’s something about me that you never thought you’d know.

I haven’t had a real, honest-to-goodness period in about two years. This isn’t due to any abnormality or constant reproduction or anything like that, so don’t panic. I was put on a birth control pill that my body responded to very well and it allowed that part of the menstrual cycle to be cut out of my life. It just happened. I got used to it.

This past fall, however, my prescription price more than doubled. It’s caused a huge strain on my wallet and I can’t justify paying so much on a medication when there are other options available to me. Let’s face it: there’s a plethora of birth control options out there. So when I saw my lady doctor about a month ago, I told her about my problem (she was not aware that the pricing had changed; their rep. hadn’t thought to share that little bit of information) and she gave me a generic prescription instead.

I am now in the process of having my first period in two years.

Now, I’m not going to get into the gory details of menstruation. This isn’t a post like that. I think everyone here has a basic understanding of the process. I will say that I have been in pretty consistent pain since at least Sunday and it’s a little overwhelming. But this is making me think, as many things do.

Looking back on my life, I’m realizing that the process of becoming a woman (or womyn, if you prefer) has been an unpleasant one for many reasons. I remember feeling sore throughout the early stages of puberty when my body was ‘filling out’, as my mother so daintily put it. There was my parents’ constant squashing of my sexual awakening at the same time that so many outside forces were beginning to sexualize me. There were the too-small bras, the hair pulling, the menstrual cramps, the doctors’ probing questions, the massive ovarian cyst of one high school summer. And now, looking toward the future, I have childbirth to consider, menopause, and, of course, the seeming never-ending cat-calls and eye-fucks and fear.

I know this gets said a lot, but being a lady kind of sucks.

At the same time, I find myself fiercely proud of my body and of the women I know who have made it to this point: the point of being a woman. Every girl I know has had a day where she stabbed herself in the eye while putting on eyeliner. Every girl I know has had her hair yanked or pulled out while someone was trying to primp her so that she Looked Pretty. Every girl has had cramps and mishaps and razor burn and awkward parental experiences while in the terrifying process of figuring all this shit out. And I rather enjoy the fact that we can talk about our periods and someone else can relate to my story of my mother trying to demonstrate proper tampon procedure when I wanted to go to the pool when I was twelve.

It’s amazing to me to see women continue to be strong and independent despite everything that’s against us. Politicians call us whores and we won’t get paid deserved wages and we have to reenact that scene from Alien on a regular basis just for the species to survive, but we keep on trucking along and just trying to live our lives. I love that women have taken beauty aspects that society has pushed for and made them their own. Yes, the shoes hurt, but I look damn good and I know it. Maybe some second-wavers (or third-wavers, for that matter) won’t agree, but I can’t help but be proud when I see a girl strutting her stuff and stopping traffic. At the same time, I am downright gleeful when someone in ripped jeans and Birkenstocks is reading Gloria Steinem on the train, or a mother in sweats running with her child in the park.

I’m just so proud of all of us.

It’s nasty business, growing up. But we’ve made it this far. I think that’s kind of incredible.