Monday, August 27

Why I love my period

Unlike what most women feel about their monthly period, I certainly love my period. Don't get me wrong, it's nothing gross. Of course, like all females I hate the cramps, the mood swings, the headache, the bloating and all this. But, the thing is.. we were like two enemies and then we finally became friends.

Let me start from the very beginning. If you're a female you can imagine the horrifying experience of the first time you had your period. So natural, yet ugly. My mom as usual kept in the dark until boom.. I came of age. Surely enough, I was scared. I thought I was injured somehow, and in the place where I was never allowed to examine or even look at. I still can hear all the warnings going through my head "Never ever touch yourself down there," Never ever look down there," "Just wipe yourself quickly clean after you pee, that's all." I thought that the devil lived down there and that he has punched me with his pitchfork on that day.

My mom came back home for the surprise of her life. I hadn't still made it to the 5th grade and I already had my period. She just gave me a sanitary towel. I still remember the brand, "Loulou", the same she used. She showed me how to stick it inside my pants and that's it. She didn't care to give any explanation. What is this? Why? Will it happen again? What am I supposed to do now? Nothing was said. I had to ask: "Mom, what happened?" She looked far away as if she got suddenly absent-minded, and after a long pause she said, "Nothing, it's normal, every girl has it. Don't worry."
Me: Has what? What the hell is this?
Mom: It's called the period. You'll see it every month.
Me: Why does it happen? Where does the blood come from?
Mom: Hey, hey. enough questions. Just keep yourself dry by using these towels I gave you until it ends.
Me: When does it end?
Mom: Two or three days from now.
Me: Why didn't it happen before?
Mom: You were so young. You are still so young, but it means that you now are a woman.
Me (Laughing): Wow! I grew up?
It has always been my wish and my prayer to God to make me grow up fast so that people will treat me like an adult. I thought God made my wish come true. But my mom didn't like me laughing about it.
Mom (interrupting my dreams): What are you laughing about? This is filthy. You are not clean until it ends. You should take care from now on.
Me: Take care of what? Am I not ok?
Mom: No, you're not ok during those days of bleeding. You're sick. You should stay in bed.
Me: But I'm feeling alright.
Mom: Why are you always arguing? Of all the girls of the world God gave me the most troublesome!
Me: Sorry, but I just wanna know. That's all. Take it easy.

This was the last time ever to ask my mom about anything. I learned my lesson. I wondered why she wasn't happy on that day. Unlike my father, who congratualted me and gave me a big hug.

When I got back to school I expected that all the girls had had the same experience. Well, that's what my mom said, right? All girls have it?. But none of them seemed to know what I was asking about. I then came confused and whenever I had my period I got scared and kept checking the back of my skirt several times to see if there are any stains. I must have looked so suspicions back then. I then started having all the negative feelings about growing up. Growing up alone was bad enough, I felt isolated. I couldn't run and play the ball with the other kids during those days. I kept excusing the teachers to be able to go to the restroom during classes. I started having the pain and the headaches that made it difficult for me to concentrate and I got depressed. I hated being a woman and I hated my period for making me a woman. I wanted to return a kid. It was far better. At least I wouldn't walk with those Loulous hanging between my legs. (It was the worst brand ever, it would never stick to its place. Oh, Thank God for the Always Ultra of today.)

Two years after, things were so different. Most of the girls had shared the experience by then. They were all so curious about what has happened to them. It was certainly miserable to have this shock while you're at school, being totally ignorant about it. A few had been enlightened by their mothers before they had the shock, but the majority were in the dark just like me. Most of the mothers were not any better than mine when it came to this issue it seems. I then discovered that it's normal. Still things were wrapped in mystery.

I went to the school library to search for answers. I found my treasure: A book about teenaging. I borrowed the book and kept reading it all day after school. I did nothing else. Read it from cover to cover. I didn't sleep that night. I was so amazed. It's like Pandora's box had suddenly opened in front of me. The book talked about stages of growth, psychological and emotional changes, menstruation, masturbation, sexual identity, everything that I was totally blank about. This is definitely the day in which I really grew up. I left the Disney world and I entered the real world. I discovered that in spite of all the education I was having, all the exams, all the difficult subjects and the high grades I was scoring, all were a zero. I was ignorant. Not only ignorant about the world, but about myself. Never before had I thought about things like how we grow up? (I only knew I am one year older when I blew off my birthday candles) what happens after we grow up? how do people get married? how do they have kids? why do they have kids? what's the aim of life? what are ethics? how can a person be ethical? and many many other things. My mind suddenly exploded with questions. But I kept them all locked into my head, never asked anyone, especially adults. I no more trusted them. I dicovered they were all liars. At that point I didn't care to understand why they were lying, I just knew they were liars. The only good adults were those who wrote facts in books. Books became my dearest friends, they never lied to me. (They are still my best friends now, although I discovered that some of them lie as well.)

I kept reading and reading all the time. I was always afraid that life was too short to read all the books in the world. I wanted to read them all. My hate for school became bitter. I started being aggressive with my teachers. I ignored studying. I felt I was way above all this. I would instead search for books about the topics in the schoolbooks and read them. I truly grew up, fast, super fast. Nothing could stop me. I would look any adult in the eye and feel like an equal. I got the same knowledge that he/she has and keeps as a secret, as if it is dividing them from babies. My self-confidence boomed and I was considered by many to be arrogant (that's why I failed to make new friends, my old friends were the only ones who knew the truth, and I managed to keep them till now.) I grew stubborn, cause my beliefs were based on facts, so I felt I had a solid ground to stand on, and almost nothing could sway me. My parents felt I was impossible. My success kept them from saying any negative comments. If they ever said one, I would stand tall and look them in the eye, saying "What do you want? I'm a perfect daughter. I know my duties well and I am the most successful one among my peers. What more? Do you just want to control me? Do you just want to feel the pleasure that parents get from designing the lives of their children, ultimately ruining them? I'm not a puppet, and never will be." Of course after hearing a 13 year old talk in that way, you freak out. I myself sometimes freaked out. Sometimes I was surprised at my ability to come up with the perfect answers in different situations. I faced people with reality without being rude. (At least I sincerely avoided being rude)

As I grew older, I understood many things. Everything thing for me became a subject for analysis. I was the youngest one to own a computer (at that time) and I was able to use all its applications perfectly. I then insisted to work during the summer. My parents yelled a bit, then they agreed cause I had had everything settled. This made me even more independent and made me more self-confident. All of the limitations that the world set for me kept falling one by one. Being young didn't prevent me from achieving what adults achieve. I could learn, I could understand, I could work and earn my own living. Being a girl didn't stand in the way, I was far better than all the boys (and some of the men) in my family. I didn't stay in bed during my period, even when it was most painful. I didn't do like the girls who act out the fatigue, as if saying out loud "I'm having my period, please take pity on me." I discovered that they were acting out the social picture, while in fact they can be perfectly fine. I took something for the headache and vitamines which kept me going very normally. I learned the benefits of my period and how it can tell me exactly how healthy I am. I sometimes make it work for my own benefit, taking it as an excuse to skip my weight-trainning session at the gym, for example. I loved the idea that my body is working in an organized cycle, that I can monitor its performance. I know when I will be in high spirits and use this extra energy. I know when I'll get depressed and be sure that there's nothing wrong. I know when I'll be easily provoked and prevent it.

Men always refer to our period as a disadvantage, saying that it makes us crazy and sick. They take it as an excuse to prevent us from having certain jobs and holding high positions in our country. This is bullshit! Why don't we ever hear this stupid argument in civilized countries? Why don't they say to their prime minister, "Oh, you're a woman, so you get a period which makes you crazy, then you can't govern us." Why are we the only females who get ashamed of their period? It is only a cultural and social heritage, that has nothing to do with reality. My own period was one of the reasons why I advanced in life. Let yours act in the same way.

18 comments:

Jasmin said...

Having periods suck!! Luckily, I get cramps only on my first day. The rest of the week, I am able to function like any other productive, human being in society :-) My preference is tampons as opposed to pads; as I am physically active most of the time.

I have to say, this is the most personal I've ever "heard" you wrote (yes, despite being new here, I've read all that you've written ;-). Thank you for letting us get to know a little bit about your childhood. Pity most people mistake your arrogance for intelligence. It is your ability to think outside the box (and at an early age!) that makes you who you are today; and that is what most of your readers love about you.

Hard to imagine how the adults in your life reacted when you suddenly grew an opinion. It must be difficult... not only would you face sexual discrimination, but age discrimination as well. If you don't believe what they believe, you're either considered too young to know any better, or worse, a no-good teenaged rebel! I wish I had your courage to speak up when I was younger. Although when I was younger, like you, books were my only real friends. Unlike you, the difference is that I wasn't out searching for the truth about the world... I wanted to escape it. Yes, I've read mostly fantasy/science fiction books :-)

Anyway, thanks again for yet another insightful read! Please continue to revolutionize your country (and the rest of the world), one article at a time!

The Alien said...

i have never understood why they deal with the period in such stupid way. it is very normal and natural. why we never talk to our kids about it? why we do not teatch them how to deal with it. why we do not help them and prepare them from the scary experience when they have it for the first time.

as you said and as all girls said, the period does not affect yor performance. it does not prevent you from doing any activities. it can not be a reason to say girls are not suitable for a job or a certain type of work.

it is good to share your personal experience. most of the girls hate the period, you deal with it in a very good way and it will help the girls to know how you do that.

Egypt Rose said...

Hi lady
انا هكتب بالعربي علشان في حاجات كثيرة عيزة اقولهالك ..

اول حاجة اناكمان بحب الوقت ده جداً و عمري لم اتألم خلال تلك الايام ابداً وامارس حياتي بشكل طبيعي جداً حتى الرياضة و العمل وكل حياتي

القصة معى بدأت وعندي 10 سموات ولحسن حظى كانت اختى الاكبر معى لمساعدتي على تنظيف نفسي ليس إلا وقد قامت هى لا امي بشرح تلك الاشياء لى .. حتى ان امي لم تتحدث معى في هذا الموضوع حتى ماتت وانا 27 سنة .. ولم تفكر مجرد التفكير في التحدث عن هذا الموضوع واكتفت بشراء عبوتان بدل واحدة لى ولاختي الكبيرة .. لم اكن لاحب تلك المرأة لانها اهملت انوثتي كثيراً ولم تشعرني يوماً باننى انثي .. مع اننى كنت نسخة طبق الاصل من ملامحها وليس طباعها

في تلك الاثناء توفى بابا وحزنت عليه كثيراً وصادف اننى كنت في تلك الايام الثلاث (ايام الدورة) ولم تسمح لى ماما بان انظر الية او ادفنه او اصلي من اجله لاننى لست طاهرة !!!!! ماذا لقد صدمت بتلك الافكار الغريبة و المؤلمة ودار في راسي سؤال مؤلم جداً .. لا يكفي الله ان اخذ منى نور قلبي ابي بل ويحرمني من النظر الى وجهه لاخر مرة وان اصلي له .. اليس ان الله من منحني الدورة الشهرية فلماذا تعاقبني بها ونحرمني من حتى النظر اليه .. اوليست الصلاه هى صلة العبد بربه .. اذا كنت يا رب قد قطعت تلك الصله طوال ايام الدورة .. فانا سوف اقطعها بارادتي باقي ايام الشهر ولن استجيب لك ولن اسمعك مرة اخرى ولن اسمح لك بالتحكم في وفي حياتي ...

فتاة في سن 13 وهذا الافكار في راسها .. هكذا كنت في تلك الفترة .. واصبحت اقرأ مثلك تماماً منذ تلك اللحظة حتى الان بدون توقف وبدون اى موانع وشروط وطقوس للطهارة !!! اصبحت اقرأ في كل المجالات و الديانات و الكتب الثقيلة الفلسفية فتحت عقلي لكل المجالات .

وانا اشكر تلك الدورة على اشياء كثيرة في حياتى :

اغلي شخص في عمرى .. ابني روحي ولولاها ما كان

استقراري النفسي و العقلي بعد ما تخلصت من كل الشؤائب العقائدية و العادات البالية وترسخ معتقداتي بوجودي ووجوديتي

انوثتي والتى اشعر بها في اقصي حالتها مع الدورة الشهرية وفخري واعتزازى بكينونتى وقوتي الباطنة والظاهرة فلم اعد اخجل من التصريح و المجاهرة بانوثتي فهى ليست عيج او خلل يجب اخفائه عن الانظار بل هو سر الحياة

لولا تلك البداية ولولا الكتب معشوقاتي .. لما كنت انا الان .. انسانة صلبة قوية الشخصية صاحبة عزيمة قوية

اسفة على الاطالة بس بقالي كثير لم اكتب لكي وبالصدفة فتحت مدونتك اليوم ورايت هذا البوست الاكثر من رائع

Fantasia said...

jasmin,
Great hearing from you. Wish everything is going well with your studies. I was so happy when I read your comment. Thanks a lot for sharing your experience and for your encouragement. You're such a sweet girl.
You're absolutely right. This one is the most personal among my posts. Clever observation. I prefer to stick to general facts as much as possible to avoid being depicted as writing from a personal perspective or being driven by my personal experience and so on. You know men like this easy conclusion whenever they find a girl talking about women rights.
I only get personal for the sake of inspiring other females, to make them feel the connection and step over whatever discourages them. I did that in "A Room of One's Own," to inspire some friends who were discouraged to write. I did that here too, cause I really wanted someone to assure me that it was OK, back then. As females we share lots of things and we can relate to one another regardless of our race, nationality, or religion. We all experience menstruation, (loss of) virginity, pregnancy, giving birth, menopause, being descriminated against, being oppressed by society, falling into stereotypical images, trying to fit into a social mold, and lots of other things. I believe that sharing our experiences is very vital in the way of healing our wounds and moving forward in life.
My childhood and teenage sufferings will be meaningless unless I share them with others and help those who are today in the same position where I used to be years ago. That's how I see it.
Thanks for the comment, it made me feel like what I write really matters.
I also read lots of fiction by the way. I'm currently reading "The Devil Wears Prada" (didn't see the movie) and I'm enjoying it tremendously.

Fantasia said...

alien,
Thanks for the comment. You don't know how hard it was for me to recall this past in writing. It is so difficult when you remember how the dearest people in your life have disappointed you. But it is worth it if other teenage girls would read it and overcome all the meaningless pain and fears that are only the outcome of ignorance and taboos.
We don't have to leave those kids in the dark just because that was what happened with us. It becomes a sadistic desire to take revenge upon innocent souls. We were hurt, that's history, and the only way our hurting can make sense is that we prevent others from being hurt in the same way.

Fantasia said...

egypt rose,
God, I was so touched by your story. So sorry you had to suffer all those feelings at such a young age. But I'm so glad that you emerged as the strong woman you are today.
I was also amazed as we've got so much in common; our feelings towards our mothers, our extensive reading, and our final positive attitude. Tell you the truth, I believe a major part of my healing would be to finally be able to write about my mother. This woman really screwed my life with the best intentions. I still can't bring myself to do it though. It hurts so much to remember those things and to relive them once more to write about them. I don't hate her still, cause I now understand where everything came from. As years passed and she became older I started to pity her. She wasted her life doing all the wrong things while what thought she was doing the opposite. I can be grateful to her, cause the negative impact that her character and her way of bringing me up have actually inspired me to become a totally different person. May be if she had been sweeter, I would have become a clone of her without knowing. Things worked for the best I guess.
Missed your comments so much, please visit me frequently. There's so much to talk about.

ياسمين said...

انتى حكيتى القصة بمنتهى الجمال والواقعية
اعتقد ان دة حصل لمعظم البنات

نفس الأحداث .. نفس الماركة المزعجة .. لولو

ونفس رد الفعل الغريب من الأم

وتخيلى .. نفس الإتجاه للقراءة عن الموضوع بل انى حملت على عاتقى ان افهم كل البنات من المدرسة ومن الجيران كل شىء عن نفسهم وعن اسباب وجود الدورة الشهرية وكيفية حدوث الحمل

وحتى الآن يا فانتازيا الناس بيعتبرونى منبر ومرشد لكل بنت فى نطاقى او فتاة او سيدة ناضجة حتى وممكن تكون ام بس مش عارفة جم ازاى العيال دى

انا عجبنى البوست جدا جدا وقرأت عند مكسوفة بوست مشابه بس كانت بتقارن بين نفسها لما جتلها الدورة الشهرية ولما بنتها جتلها الدورة والفرق بين رد فعلها مع بنتها ورد فعل أهلها معاها لما دة حصل

تحية كبيرة وتصفيق حاد
وأشكرك على التوجه للرجال بالحقائق اللى غايبة عنهم

حقيقى هم محتاجين يتعلموا

The Alien said...

i translated this post and sent it to you. check your mail.

best wishes

Jasmin said...

Well Fantasia, it is always a pleasure reading your work. You have my utmost respect and admiration. Definitely a rare treat to see a more personal side of you :-)

I've seen the movie "The Devil Wears Prada," but wasn't exactly blown away... maybe the book is better :-)

As far as my studies go, I haven’t been fairing too well, due to my inability to focus on one thing like studying :-P
I’d check my e-mail, surf online, watch silly shows on YouTube, and oh yeah, read blogs! Speaking of which, I was over at Agenda's and there's a heated discussion following her new post. Perhaps you should drop by... I'd be interested to hear your views.

Fantasia said...

yasmine,
Thanks for your sweet words and encouragement. I can see that sharing personal experiences shows a lot of common tendencies among the females here. Egypt Rose was telling me about the same similarities. That's why I feel so at home when I discuss personal stuff here. It's friends like you who really give me hope that our collective efforts might blossom one day.
I was so happy reading your comment. I also loved your blog so much. Never heard about Maksoofa, maybe I should check her blog. Thanks for the insights.

د /إياد حرفوش said...

Dear Fantasia,
Would you find it strange if I told you that this was your best article ever. ultimately deep, different, faith, natural and easy going. And yes dear, period never affect non-faking women perofrmance in whatever, and is not a sound justification of prohibition from leading positions. Generalizing is our killer. Some women are crazy during period, some are crazy forever, some men too. But we always tend to generalize and this is part of our emotional non-rational way of life. Sincere regards
N.B. Still waiting a materialization of your ambition to Egyptian Brotherhood matter.

Fantasia said...

alien:
So grateful for your huge support for this blog. Wish we would be able to get other people involved in the translation process. It is so strange when I read my words in Arabic, yet very amusing. Loved the translation. Thank you.

Fantasia said...

jasmin,
Your words encourage me to write more about myself. Actually many people liked this last post cause of its personal and somewhat intimate nature.
Thanks for drawing my attention to what's taking place on Agenda's blog. I read the dialogue between you and arab id. You can clearly see where he's coming from and I liked the way you replied to his argument very much.

Fantasia said...

eyad,
Actually, I don't find it strange at all. I've been receiving very positive comments on this one and they all more or less had the same opinion. As I told jasmin, I prefer not to write personal posts, but I should respect the taste of my readers. Thanks a lot for your sweet comment.
Generalization is truly a crisis when it becomes an official way of thinking. Societies like ours tend to generalize because it makes them feel comfortable about the ideas they adopt. In this way they don't need to examine anything or look for variations. They like to pass a general rule and live by it, even if it is false. This is the rock of their life, like faith, take it away and they are lost and may even go crazy.
Wonderful insight as usual.
As for the Egyptian Brotherhood, I was still waiting to see how the first meeting went and whether you have agreed on a certain agenda for action, which will hopefully help me to make up my mind about joining.

Jasmin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
اجندا حمرا said...

dear fantasia

i missed interacting with u my dear

well such an inspirational post:-)

i really needed to read it so badly so it just came @ the right moment

we should try to accept the things we cant change by taking them in and trying to use them to our benifits
i try to do this belive me with my period

to relax and just wait for it to finish its cycle

look i have no problem staying at home while having it,the main problem for me is when i got out and that feeling i have while it is in there
while u were writing about your teenage years as if u were talking about me and up to this moment i still look back to see if there is any stains hasas ba2a a3mel eh lol

such a wonderful strong post with a very strong message
thank u fantasia u always hit nerves here i cant thank u enough for your support always
we need lots of great people like u

Fantasia said...

jasmin,
Oh, how I shall miss you! Wishing you the best with your studies of course. Having to get rid of your laptop means you're damn serious about it this time.
Thanks for all your support and encouragement. I shall always remember your words for inspiration. Whenever I'm down, I shall remind myself of the wonderful things you said about this blog, and I'm sure it will get me going again.
I'll be waiting for your come-back and to know your results as well. Wishing you a brilliant success. You're a girl who deserves all the best. You've got lots of positive energy and a wonderful heart. You will be missed a lot dear.

Fantasia said...

agenda,
Please don't deprive me of reading your beautiful comments.
I was so sorry when I read your last post and found out about the amount of pain you suffer during your period. Believe me, it has a solution.
If you feel you need more protection during those days, considering changing the brand of the sanitary pads you're using. As for the cramps and tender breasts, try using a medicine that works on period related symptoms. There is quite a variety in those nowadays. Don't just go for painkillers. Your doctor can direct you to which one to choose. There is also a device which a friend of mine uses. It is fixed on the top border of your pants, right where you feel the cramps, and it sends certain soothing vibes that ease them a lot. She tells me she can't live without it. It's an imported device, but she brought it through a local dealer here. It is so tiny, so even if you are wearing tight jeans, it won't show.
I hope things will get better for you.
Thanks for your sweet sweet words. As usual you give me a huge push through your motivation. Glad you liked this post and found it inspirational in a way. I really wanna help every girl out there as much as I can. Keep coming dear.

"When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid" - Audre Lorde