by Robyn Jones – B.Sc. (Psych), Goonellabah, Australia
This blog was first published on a website in the UK. It was then translated into Dutch and published on a website in The Netherlands. Links to both articles can be found at the end of this blog.
– GUEST BLOG BY ROBYN JONES B.Sc. (Psych) –
‘Our first period is a precious time and a celebration of the transition from being a girl to becoming a woman. But how come so very few of us truly celebrate our menarche?’ Australian counsellor Robyn Jones investigates the matter.
My first period came at age 11. It was light, lasted a few days, and I didn’t have another bleed again for about six months. At this time menstruation wasn’t not openly spoken about, so there was certainly no celebration that came with this important milestone in my life.
Over the years period pain, late periods, fast periods, slow periods, missed periods, tender breasts, fatigue, nausea, increased sensitivity, mood swings and temperatures have all been regular symptoms experienced during my menstrual cycle – far from any celebration and feeling more like a curse!
My periods slowed me down, got in the way, and stopped me from doing certain activities, as experienced by so many other women. But what was my body trying to tell me with all this? Let’s take a look…
What if all that I was experiencing was, in fact, my body’s way of communicating that something was amiss in the way I was living as a woman? What if period pain was a blessing and not a curse, as we so commonly relate to it?
What causes period pain?
Over the last eight years I’ve been exploring the issue of period pain and symptoms during my own cycle, as well as talking with many other women about theirs. Some common themes have emerged:
- The levels of anxiety we live with everyday.
- Our constant need to be ‘doing’ something.
- The inability to deeply let go and rest.
- A fear of people judging or criticising what we do, how we look, or how we should be.
- A resistance to letting people get close to us.
- Our lack of overall treatment and level of respect we have for ourselves.
- The way we communicate, and just how little we express how we truly feel in our lives.
None of these scream ‘being a woman’. Instead they all relate to ‘doing’, ‘excessive motion’ or ‘holding back’. So these ways of living are, in fact, putting undue pressure on us, as they don’t support us in being the women we naturally are. Is there any wonder we end up with period pain?
What can we learn from period pain?
If we choose to pay attention to what our body is communicating, there’s much insight offered in every menstrual cycle in regards to the way we are living. We can listen by:
- Really feeling our body, becoming aware of just how we have been treating it on a daily basis.
- Slowing down, resting, and allowing the body to cleanse.
- Honouring, respecting, and appreciating what our body naturally goes through during this time.
The woman who treats herself with this level of understanding – embracing this time to reflect and learn more about the relationship with herself and her body – is very beautiful.
Re-education: pass it on
Imagine if our girls were aware that their first period is truly an amazing celebration of who they are. It’s becoming a young woman, and not a curse or inconvenience. They should know that menstruation is a time:
- To really be with themselves.
- To explore ways to nurture, deeply care for, and respect themselves.
- To get to know their sensitivity and fragility, and the strength in this.
We should also tell them that any period pain or symptom offers invaluable insight into the way they are living their lives. That their menstrual cycles are opportunities to stop and feel on a deeper level who they are as women. We, women and mothers, can learn to live by example through deeply respecting and treating ourselves with loving care, throughout our entire menstrual cycle. With this education we can teach our daughters, and the next generation of women, so much.
A first period is a moment of glory in the development from a girl into a gorgeous young woman. One who’s in tune with herself, who listens and responds to her body’s communication, and who honors that how she feels is a normal and accepted rhythm of her life.
What a blessing a first period truly offers – most definitely a time for celebration.
This guest blog is written by the Australian Robyn Jones: a woman, wife, mother, baker and counsellor, who works in private practice. She writes about women’s health, anxiety, children and motherhood. For more articles and also for yummy (gluten and dairy free) recipes, see www.robynjones.com.au.
Me & My Cycle, by Mariette Reineke