by Shevon Simon, London, UK
There has been extraordinary change in my body in that my periods HAVE (NOW) RETURNED after some time of absence….
I never thought of myself as a person with difficulties with their period. Yes there was pain, but doesn’t everyone experience pain? And I’ve only in recent months contemplated that experiencing such excruciating pain during my periods could be my body telling me that I was out of sync with the way I was choosing to live and be with myself. An extraordinary concept for me!
I began having my periods around age 11. I was still in primary school and was geared up and excited to have them. My Mum openly had pads and tampons in the house and as she mostly wore pads, I knew this was what I would wear when my periods began. I was so excited to have my period as I could feel my body preparing for it to come, and two of my friends had already started theirs. I wanted to be one of the first so I didn’t get left behind – I was already running the race of competition! My periods began during the Easter break whilst at my grandma’s, but what a shock I received….
The pain was excruciating.
I lay curled over on my grandmother’s bed longing for it to be over and then what felt like ‘a curse’ began – every month was the same, some marginally worse or better than others, but I consistently experienced nausea, serious cramping, high pitched sounds in my ears, fuzzy vision and wanted to pass out as the pain was just too much.
I saw our family GP in the early days who wanted to prescribe oral contraception to help me ‘manage the pain’. I was 14 years old. Although shy, I mustered up the courage to say no, as I felt strongly that I didn’t want to manage the pain by taking medication for the rest of my life. I left the surgery with my Aunty and from here ‘managed the period pain’ – through taking days off school and work when they were really bad and I couldn’t move and by also taking Ibuprofen which eased the symptoms.
Fast forward twenty years and at age 33 my periods just stopped (?!).
Initially I fleeting wondered what had happened, but then carried on with my life. It was also such a relief not to experience that pain and I felt no real need to look at what may be going on, however after seven months I decided to go and see my GP. This was not the same GP from my childhood; here I felt safe, listened to and looked after whenever I went to see him and felt open in sharing that my periods had stopped. We spoke at length and over the months he sent me for tests and asked me to see him at various intervals. He was baffled and couldn’t work out what was going on. I remember we had a conversation and he asked me how I felt about not having my periods – I felt tearful and said that I felt like “my womanhood had gone”, and he talked to me about “having children” in relation to this concern, but it wasn’t that for me. It was the fact that in spite of the pain, I missed having them! Something inside me felt ‘empty’. I missed simple things about having my period like buying pads and started to consider that there must have been ‘something special’ about this time of bleeding which I felt I was missing out on…
This notion of what I felt to be ‘of specialness’, was supported by the Esoteric healing sessions I was undertaking via Universal Medicine; the Esoteric Women’s Presentations and also the monthly Esoteric Women’s Developers Groups I’d been attending.
In these groups we spoke about the subject of ‘periods’ and that they are indeed a special time for a woman to connect to her quality of ‘stillness’; and that the bleed is a time to clear whatever her body has ‘taken on’ which is not in line with that natural inner stillness. We were also introduced to the fact that there are times in a woman’s cycle where things would be happening in her body and how these present opportunities to take note of: such as pain or discomfort, PMT, mood swings, reactions and feelings etc. We also looked at ‘Our Cycles App‘ which is a unique period tracking tool were we can document our symptoms, helping to raise awareness of our bodies during our monthly cycle.
Reflecting on what we were presented with I realised (and arrogantly so) that I’d felt almost a complacency when having my periods – I bled for five days every twenty-eight days, so in my mind I was (indeed) measuring up to what all the literature said was a ‘normal period’ – yet I’d never really connected to myself as ‘a woman’. Female yes, though only because my body was shaped and designed physically differently to a man’s. I’d never stopped to consider fully what quality I was bringing as a woman and my relationship on a day to day basis with this quality…
As I was not having periods I decided to give the Our Cycles App a go – to be able to start tracking how my body felt using the full moon each month as a marker or point of reflection and a time to stop, rest and reflect on my body and how I had lived that previous month.
It was quite difficult at first because although I could feel things in my body, they were often fleeting and un-tangible. My breasts felt hard, though with this I began to realise I actually had breasts (!) that were a part of me; and that I had long disconnected from this part of my body. And slowly my body began to open up which allowed more self-awareness. The real turning point came when I realised the fact I’d been overloading myself with work plus choosing to not speak up or express what I’d felt was going on within our work team at the time – that there was an imbalance and with that, disharmony. Whilst I knew I was working really hard, I felt others to be cruising!, though I’d actually helped to create this imbalance or situation by always saying ‘yes’ to what was being asked of me without ever really accepting the support of others if need be. My perception was that if I accepted help, I would seem weak… and in addition built up this image that ‘I could do it all’, be Superwoman!
Reflecting on this today I recognise that this (pattern) was what I saw around me growing up – I grew up in a matriarchal family where the women worked hard. There were also very few men around and when men were around they weren’t allowed to play much of a role within the family or seem significant. The women ran the home and what they said went. However, I witnessed that the women often felt and expressed resentment in having to do everything and saw the man as being ‘useless’. I grew up thinking I certainly was not going to repeat the pattern of excluding men, and yet here I was running the same pattern by excluding everyone. I thought my way to include people was to be nice to them, but behind that niceness I stored a lot of bitterness and resentment the same as I’d witnessed at home.
In my disharmonious work situation I chose to speak up and for the first time thought to myself “It doesn’t matter whether things change within our team or not, I’ve just got to say something here”….This challenged my image of being ‘the good and obedient worker’ who didn’t ‘rock the boat’, however I chose not to go into this belief, and instead go on to suggest a practical way we might work better as a team going forward. Once I expressed how I actually was feeling, it wasn’t long after that I could feel the utter exhaustion and heaviness in my body….
Thereafter I began to take more honesty about what was occurring in my own body to the healing sessions I was having, and with the loving support from the Esoteric Practitioners I began to open up to the ways and quality I was living as a woman, which helped me expose how I was in fact harming myself i.e. that everything I was ‘doing’ was for me to be recognised in an ‘acceptable form’ by the world, therefore this had been hiding the real me. My physical appearance at the time had started to deteriorate. I began to realise that with my focused efforts in avoiding responsibility in dealing with the lack of true self-love, deep care and regard, that I had instead chosen to bury myself through obsessing and controlling my food intake and playing ‘roles’ in life in order to fit in (in the past, I just kept changing my job, again to avoid such issues). I felt that the bodily experiences I was having were showing or ‘messaging’ me – that I could no longer continue running away from what I didn’t want to deal with, being the real me in the world!
The big turnaround came when I attended a 2-day Rejuvenation Retreat. Here I allowed myself to feel so beautiful, relaxed and rested in my body that after two days I hardly recognised myself in the mirror when I got home! My face looked flushed, blooming and there was a twinkle in my eye! The next day, and after one year and two months since my periods had stopped, I experienced a bright red bleed. This only lasted a day, but two to three months later I experienced the heaviest period of my life and experienced great joy with its return. Apart from some dull aching in my vagina a few days before, there was no pain during the bleed. And I embraced this opportunity to rest my body – in full. And boy did I have fun buying pads with various brands and sizes, enjoying the whole experience as a celebration of me as a woman, rather than a functional exercise that arises from our ovaries every month. And here I found the true quality of me as a woman – a feeling of inner joy, sweetness, harmony and a stillness i.e. no ‘edginess’ but instead feeling completely relaxed and at ease in my body. It reminds me of the feeling I have when I smell a rose, but now this sweetness is coming from inside of me….
I visited my GP some months after I returned from the Retreat. He and I both identified that there’d been too much effort put into working hard which resulted in self-neglect. This working or trying hard was not just in my job, but generally in life, whereas now I have found that when I take time to rest my body everything that I am is here shining through – it’s like ‘the trying’ is the cloud in front of the sun and by dropping this trying the cloud moves away and the full brightness of the sun (i.e. me) can beam out!
At this point all my test results returned to normal levels. And so I’ve regarded that the ceasing of my periods was as a direct result of the unnatural way I was being with my body, not only in holding it consistently tense and pushing it hard to get through things and work, but also putting it into situations it (I) did not want to be in, or saying yes to everything to fulfil a picture (belief or ideal) I carried about how I should be in life, as a person and as a woman.
As a result, today my working days are beginning to look and feel very different.
From racing to being the first team member to arrive at work and being constantly busy, to now where I am taking things and myself much easier. I was always the person who had a long list of things to do and would start the day on a race to ‘complete everything’. My day was never good if I didn’t complete EVERYTHING I’d set out to do. However, I realised that I’d been setting unrealistic expectations for myself and putting my body under this enormous pressure and strain which created a ‘hardness’ within myself. Now I don’t arrive so early. I take time in the morning to have breakfast and enjoy getting myself ready for the day. I’m now at ease whether the first to arrive in the office, or not. I take breaks during the day to go for a little walk and always try and have an hour’s lunch break. This again is a far cry from the person who would enter the office, work flat out, and eat lunch at her desk and venture outside some 12 hours later, not even seeing the light of day – all day. My colleagues now have a happier and more relaxed co-worker to be around (!) and I thoroughly enjoy my days, my work, and feel harmonious within our team. I still keep a list of things that require attention, but I don’t look at them EVERY MOMENT!
I check-in with myself during the day, using the Our Cycles App. This way I am providing stops within my day to feel where I am at and what may be needed for my body. Through living this new way and taking heed of what I notice, it’s less likely that (my) disregard will build up to the point of needing to be at home off work sick for a week due to exhaustion. And this to me feels to be a loving, truly supportive and responsible way to now live my days.
My perception of me as being ‘the helper’ has always been about rushing to other people’s aid, but I am starting to realise now that in doing so, I only forget myself and instead offer a rush of anxiety to the situation (and also person) I am dealing with….
It’s not perfect and I still do notice a ‘raciness’ in my body as I sit at my desk, but I am at least starting to notice this activity much earlier so it doesn’t then lead to an exhausting week.
A few days ago at work and on the last day of my bleed, at 3pm I felt my body wanting to start taking things slower, so I embraced this by deciding to do some light reading and spend time speaking with my colleagues (work related). I could feel my body felt relaxed AND energised – on a Friday afternoon!
Today I look forward to having my periods knowing and feeling that they are a time to re-connect with that beautiful quality and stillness within me.
I feel a palpable difference in my body when my periods begin – the palms of my hands feel softer, there’s a tingly sensation through my arms and legs and a general feeling of fullness and not needing anything; and I feel joy within me.
My periods have changed, ranging from 6 to 8 day bleeds every 30 or 31 days and I’ve had three periods since they first returned and the last two have been painful. I’m taking the time to stop and ask myself what is going on (on a deeper level) alongside taking Ibuprofen when necessary. In doing this activity, I’ve discovered more areas where I have been hard with myself and not the real me in relationships. And as I step forward this month, I’ve been making some small changes in this regard. It’s so very simple and I can only express my heart-felt appreciation for the love and support shown to me by my GP and the Esoteric healing practitioners at Universal Medicine. Through their non-imposing support I’ve felt safe to start being truly honest with myself and have begun to Love me again.