For some people this post is probably gonna be a bit too much. A bit too honest and on a topic not many are interested about or would even ever want to think about. There are some topics I wish I could be more open about with friends, but not feeling able to do so has meant that I want to blog anonymously about it. Yes, it’s strange that I can’t speak openly around people that know me, yet am perfectly comfortable writing it on the internet. You know how some women are more than happy to talk about aspects of their womanhood and others can’t even comment when someone else brings up the conversation? Okay, so I’m the girl that is quiet when her louder friends bring up sex, nuances in relationships, and things like ‘that time of the month’. Anyone normally like myself, should press the back-button right about now.
I have had to have a conversation with my partner about ‘that time of the month’. We’ve been dating a long time, and have just started living together. And I had an incident.
Up until now, the two of us had an understanding. We referred to my menstruation as ‘them lady-times’. It was like an in-joke. We could laugh whenever I seemed moody and he would get to joke, “you must be having your lady-time, hu?” The funny part was that not once when he has ever made that joke was I ever actually on my period. When I was getting the killer cramps he would immediately know it was my lady-times and come back from the corner store with paracetamol, chocolate and Dr Pepper. He’d also make up a hot water bottle for me. All without saying anything.
So the other morning I woke up with a less than pleasant feeling around my pants. (And legs.) To add to how mortified I was I had to dirty a towel just to get to the bathroom.
When he woke up and saw my side of the bed… he tried to make light of the thing. Tried to make it funny. But in so doing he almost made it sound like my lady-times were my own fault. The logical side of me knew it was funny and yet I couldn’t bring myself to laugh. Why? Because I realised then that a man can’t really understand.
When you get your first period it can of course… be messy. Thanks to not expecting it you may well have soiled your pants before you realise. Not only do you not have the sanitary items you need, but hell! Depending on how sheltered you have been by your parents you wouldn’t even have known what they were, what to do with them, or what the etiquette was. The reason I know that’s true is because there are plenty of women that apparently don’t know; having worked in bars there are plenty of times cleaning up the bathroom wasn’t unpleasant for the vomit, but the lack of sanitary hygiene. For men that don’t know, next to the toilets in the ladies room there is a special bin. Being drunk is no excuse for not using it- sometimes women don’t even wrap up the used stuff in tissue paper! Etiquette ladies, etiquette!
Anyway. I was (sort of) ready. I grew up in a single mother household with a woman who was very clever and wanted to prepare me for anything that I might have to go through that would cause me embarrassment. Very lucky, because I started my periods before any sex ed classes. I knew where my Mum’s lady-time basket was and how a sanitary towel worked and so I went the whole first day without ever having to mention it to her. A little like Anne Frank; it got to be an empowering little secret that I had started to become a woman. Alas, mother nature is a bitch and couldn’t just leave it at that. Nope; she had to make it messy and painful. Mum being open, patient and understanding of how mortifying the whole thing can be was great.
My cycle was/is significantly shorter than most womens’. The bleeding is ridiculously heavy but then occurs over less time than other women, which makes up a little I guess. The painful cramps are enough to floor me (often having been criticised by my Grandma telling me it wasn’t as bad as labor). Something that’s always been very important to me is being clean, tidy and for all I am clumsy I try to hold myself with dignity. Being prepared for lady-times, therefore becomes very important.
All this being the case you can then imagine how I felt waking up like I did where the expression ‘caught with your knickers down’ became totally irrelevant; my body still managed to be the cause of gut-wrenching embarrassment with my pants perfectly in place.
My partner couldn’t understand that the emotional baggage that comes with that kind of incident isn’t worth the joke. It’s one thing for a comedian on stage to joke about “not trusting something that bleeds for days on end and doesn’t die” [See Frankie Boyle]. Or acting out the problem a woman might come across if she goes out dancing with a sanitary towel on [See Whoopi Goldberg]. With these kind of jokes you laugh because they can be insightful- we all know it’s icky and embarrassing and so the fact that other people go through it too, makes it okay. It’s a female collective emotion. So whatever you do, don’t single a woman out as if it only ever happens to her. In the case of what happened to me, I’m sure very few women are in a position of having to buy a new mattress before they even wake-up. But for fuck’s sake, don’t point it out.