First Blood or Menarche
Another part of becoming friends with our menstrual cycles is becoming aware of all the baggage we carry about menstruating...
This 'baggage' is often the sum of our experiences, memories and stories that we have heard about bleeding from the people living around us. Often the attitudes of family and friends has a huge impact on us, establishing a particular flavour around being a woman. Hopefully this flavour is positive but more often than not it is decidedly negative.
At the time when we have our first period or "menarche", we are crossing the line from girlhood to womanhood.
Of course, in these modern times with artificial light and a western diet full of artificial hormones, girl are having their menarche earlier and earlier. Whereas in ancient times when a girl starting menstruating at 14 or 16 years old and was ready then to bear children and often did soon after. These days the gap between the onset of menses and childbirth is getting longer and longer.
However, menarche still is and should be 'the Great initiation' into the gifts of womanhood. Gifts that are intrinsically tied up with our fertility and reproductive cycles and yet able to be utilised in a myriad of other creative pursuits.
In our modern western culture, we are given little cause to celebrate this special crossing over, more often than not it is a secret shameful experience, a burden to bear rather than a gift to celebrate.
There are very few initiations or rites of passage open to us now compared to older tribal traditions. As a result young women can sometimes feel as if they are caught in a netherworld, neither girl and neither woman. We may feel a keen sense of loss with no concept of what is to replace our girlhood. We are expected to cross the bridge from girlhood to womanhood as if nothing has happened, missing all the wonder and sacredness along the way.
What was your own first bleeding like? Joyful? Frightening?
Enlightening? Shameful? Celebarated? Ignored?Happy? Sad?
What was the reaction of the people around you? Mother, Father, family and friends?
Take a minute now to imagine that moment when you first bled, how different would it have been if your mother and elder sisters (or extended family, friends) had celebrated your menstruation, welcoming you into womanhood with love and joy.
What if you were blessed, told how wonderful the gifts of menstruation were, with its cycles and value being explained to you...
How would you feel about being a woman? Your body and its functions? Is it different to how you feel now?
If your experience was less than ideal, you can re-write or re-create history or rather her-story. We have provided a few suggestions below to inspire you with possible ways of re-writing your past.
Visualisation Choose a quiet spot, become very relaxed and then visualise a TV or movie screen in your minds eye. Watch your less-than-ideal experience on the screen, supplying as much detail as possible.. colour, sound, smells etc whilst staying detached. When you have finished watching the episode, imagine yourself destroying the tape of what you have just seen. Then imagine that you are pressing the record button and replay the experience just as you would have liked it to be.. as joyful, special and happy as you desire, again with as much vivid detail as possible. When you are finished, come gently and slowly back into your body and normal awareness of where you are.
Ritual Do a ritual, using candles, baths, aromatherapy oils, new clothes, jewellery, whatever to symbolise the letting go of the old and embracing the new. This can be done alone or with trusted friends.
If your experiences have been particularly negative , any physical symptoms may worsen temporarily at this point as you release the toxins out of your body. Be gentle with yourself and breathe, affirming that you are releasing things you no longer need for your highest good..
Take a minute now to imagine that moment when you first bled...
How different would it have been if your mother and elder sisters (or extended family, friends) had celebrated your menstruation, welcoming you into womanhood with love and joy.
What if you were blessed, told how wonderful the gifts of menstruation were, with its cycles and value being explained to you.....
How would you feel about being a woman?
Your body and its functions?
Is it different to how you feel now?
It is never too late to reframe your experience of menstruation into an attitude that is positive and empowering.