When I was about 11 years old, I became obsessed with getting my period. Now, at that point I hadn’t yet, but I had heard about it from my family and friends and in my 11-year old mind thought it was the coolest thing I had ever heard. Every month I get to be special! I thought…
After that, I listened intently to my body, and with any pain in my tummy I would get a little excited and hope I was finally getting my period. A year later, I started to really notice that I was alone in my feelings towards this special event. My friends thought it was gross and would tell horror stories about their sisters bleeding on their uniforms, or about how much it hurt. I started to feel embarrassed that I was looking forward to it and so I would pretend I felt the same way, but kept my little secret.
Then one morning, while my family and I were on a holiday, I woke up to find myself covered in blood. All the ideas about it being an amazing moment went out the window, as I sat up absolutely mortified and screamed for my sister, bursting into tears in full panic. I just didn’t expect it to be so… not to over-share, but gory!… Everyone in the family was very supportive, my sister calmed me down and went and told my mother, who burst into the room with a box of tampons and a very creepy diagram. After a brief squabble in which I refused to use them and demanded pads, I went downstairs to find my Dad with a goofy smile on his face ready to congratulate me. I became a little embarrassed. Even my sister’s then-boyfriend came up to me and awkwardly congratulated me, his eyes darting around not knowing where to look. After the initial shock of that morning, and when everyone in my family stopped smirking at me from across the room, their eyes voicing “Not a baby anymore… No, a wommman”, I begin to adjust and finally started feeling how I had expected to feel – excited, proud and thoroughly lovely.
During the year that followed, I absolutely loved having my period. I remember how it always made me feel special, like a goddess, and that was one of the reasons I chose to use pads. I wanted to respect the process and I loved that I had to subtly change my activities during that time, like I wouldn’t do sport and I had to go easy on myself, especially at school.
Once I properly entered my teens it all went a bit pear-shaped. I began focussing on things that took me away from my body and it felt like life became heavier. Also, coming from a very medical family, my parents were beginning to encourage me to go on the Pill, as my sister had had a lot of trouble with her skin in her teens and they didn’t want me to go through the same thing, though my skin was perfect at the time. I also found some of my periods were starting to get painful, and so I started to see them as more of a menace and through this change of heart, I finally agreed to go on the Pill.
It’s all a bit of a blur after that. I struggled a lot in my teen years for various reasons, but I firmly remember how disconnected I became from my body. Being on the Pill meant I could skip bleeding for months on end, and when I would allow myself to bleed, it was often light and I didn’t pay much attention to it. I wore tampons in these times and in retrospect, I think it was mostly because everyone else was, but also because I had completely forgotten the joy I had experienced in the beginning. The pace of life was so much faster and I just didn’t have time to be a goddess anymore
Womanhood became daunting as I grew up. I had started to look like the kind of woman that men found sexually appealing, and I was often hounded by men in public or honked at from cars passing by; I remember feeling very self-conscious and became resentful of my body. Eventually, as this behaviour towards me continued and grew more intense, I began to feel very unsafe in the world and so I began to cover up and dress and act more like a boy. I felt so much safer this way. Men would still harass me, but there appeared to be what I thought was a form of respect; they saw me as ‘one of the boys’ and knew I was tough and could hold my own. Something in me however, always felt sad about the way I was behaving, because in my heart, I still felt like a delicate and lovely woman – I just felt I had to construct a tough outer shell to protect myself. It was a strange feeling looking back, that the more loveliness I felt inside me, the harder I would work to build the shield that I thought protected it.
When I was about 18, I began seeing Elizabeth Dolan for sessions and Esoteric Breast Massages. I remember the first one I ever had: I expected to finish the session with Elizabeth telling me I was completely disconnected from being a woman, but to my complete surprise and joy she said the opposite, that it was all there waiting for me, I just hadn’t been allowing the full connection to it.
Through regular Esoteric Breast Massages, I started to feel like I had as a little girl again: I would sit up and feel so tender and delicious in my body – though not a foreign feeling, the most familiar and normal feeling in the world. Where on Earth had I been for the last few years? This was how I used to feel all the time.
My life then slowly began to change. I had in the past championed always being able to do things for myself and never wanted any help with anything. I saw needing help as a weakness, from everything to lifting heavy boxes at work to admitting I was feeling sad about something. However, as I allowed my body to become more tender I started to see that it was okay to ask for help, that it was loving and actually made me feel more powerful, because I was honoring my body and my body was beautiful in its tenderness.
My relationships with men also changed. Before, I often noticed that my male friends weren’t quite sure how to act around me because I was always trying to out-tough them. Some found this attractive and a challenge, while others were uncomfortable and would see me as a threat. However, as I began to look after and honour my body, I began to allow them to help me when it was needed, and I stopped trying to be tough like them and just allowed myself to be feminine. Through this I could feel that they could be more of themselves, and they just loved helping me when I needed it. It seemed to bring out a tenderness in even the toughest of men, and through this I formed some beautiful friendships that I still have today.
In re-connecting back to the true woman that I am, there are many old habits and ways of being that I still go into that make me feel hard and protected again, and so it is a very continuous process for me. I’ve been given such enormous support from the Esoteric Breast Massage practitioners, and more recently from Natalie Benhayon with the esoteric ovary massage (which I have to add, is like giving your ovaries a bubble bath). However, I don’t see it as achieving something, or even arriving at someone shiny and new, because knowing how I felt as young girl, I know I am just a master returning to what is most natural for me.