As I am in the midst of creating content for a self-care workshop and summer program, I've been pondering why it feels difficult to ask women to rest for the first few days of their period. Posing this request as a means of self-care feels like a daunting task to do for said women. Why is that? I wondered.
And then it hit me yesterday as I was showering after my workout (water is grounding so we sometimes get our best insight or clarity when we're in the shower or bath!).
There is some shame around our menstrual cycles.
And in admitting we have menses, we are acknowledging we experience everything that goes along with bleeding every month.
In the not so far away past, when women were trying to establish a place in the work force and as we continue to become business owners, CEOs, and voicing the need for equal pay, we have needed to assert that we are reliable, consistent, and dependable. (And we are.) To compete in the work world society has established, women have to "keep up" with the masculine way of productivity and prove, in a way, that we have the "balls" and wherewithal to be in charge. And in doing such, we have had to ignore or suppress the feminine flow of cycles that is so natural to us. So we push through, take the pill, create edges where maybe we were once soft, and put on our man-pants. We even sometimes hide the fact that we are on our period by using code phrases like "auntie flow" or "THAT time of the month", because it feels unacceptable to use it as an "excuse" for being tired or more emotional. "Oh you must be on your period" has felt like an insulting remark. I've even been known to buy pads or tampons with a bunch of other products in the hopes that they will blend in or hide, so that even the stranger ringing out my purchases doesn't know I'm menstruating.
There is a secrecy to our bleeding. We don't often talk about it with our men because we don't want to make them feel sqweemish or have them feel like they need to tip toe around us. And when we realize that we actually need the time to rest and experience the fact that we are indeed much more emotional around this time in our cycle, it brings up some shame. Shame about the fact that we aren't "normal" and can't "keep up" all the time in the supposed standard of "consistency". (Although, we are consistent....consistently more soft and inward when we consistently have our period.. Consistentcy expressed in a different way...)
And here's the thing: we ARE normal. We go through cycles and rhythms as natural as nature, as the seasons, as the moon. Our cycles match the energy cycles of plants, a creative project, of life and death itself. Starting from a tiny seed, growing, blossoming, releasing, decaying, going inward, to once again begin anew as a seed in the earth. Spring, summer, fall, winter, spring. New, waxing, full, waning, new. Conception, growth, birth, growth, death, rebirth. And men go through similar cycles as well, even if it feels a little more subtle than the physical menstrual cycle a woman goes through. Even if you are a woman who no longer physically bleeds, on an energetic level, the cycles are still there.
So when we deny these cycles, when we hide them, ignore them, and suppress them, we cut off our own inspiration, negate our feminine power, and undermine our own natural wisdom. We become disconnected from our bodies. We develop illness. We start to have crazy PMS symptoms when we don't listen to our intuition, like quitting that job, leaving that relationship, changing our diet, or voicing our needs. We are missing part of our depth. And our bodies and spirits can't take it anymore. I have witnessed in men and women both, but particularly women, a yearning and a craving for a return to a more sacred, natural, deeper way of connecting to self and other. Our bodies are crying out for it. Our souls are hungry for it.
I believe there was a need to show up like men in the world to make progress in equal rights and create change. I have gratitude for the women who have pioneered this for us. I'm not bashing the pill or saying we shouldn't be out there in the workforce with integrity, reliability, and accountability. But I also feel like now is the time for us to rise...in a new way. For women to reclaim the power in our cycles. No more secrecy or shame. Acknowledging that we are emotional beings. Because HUMANS are emotional beings. And that it is perfectly normal to need to rest. To go inward. To honor the cycles of our energy and body.
And if we can allow ourselves and our sisters to rest and care for self with tenderness, we also give space for our men to also do the same. When we resist the "go, go, go" of our culture rather then resist the natural rhythms of the cycles of life, we show up in space of self love and presence that is in harmony with our being. And what wondrous ways might we BE and show up, if we surrender and allow and work WITH our bodies? I predict amazing, great, brilliant, soulfully fulfilled ways.