As much as we may like to think we have ‘grown up’ and moved on from feeling embarrassed and/or inconvenienced by our periods, when it comes to talking with our daughters or the young women in our lives, it can all come flooding back in a millisecond. Whether you are a woman or a man, the narrative that is woven into our psyche on this topic is the same and unfortunately, even though we think that as a society we have progressed, we haven’t really. It’s all still there, the ideas that periods are a curse, they make you unclean and that they are something to hide and wish away still filters through to some degree. They may be more hidden and less overt but very much still there and as if by some sort of osmosis, these ideas keep being passed down from generation to generation. We may have more education these days with more people talking openly about menstruation in a ‘period-positive’ kind of way, however something seems to be missing and the translation is not quite complete.
As caregivers and guardians of our daughters & sons, we are the custodians of the narrative that they ingest and take on as their own. There is a responsibility in this where we need to stop and question as to where our own allegiance to the common narrative lies. And also ask ourselves about our own hurts, stories and traumas that we may have experienced around this topic.
How were periods talked about in your home?
What information did you receive and from where?
How did this form your understanding of menstruation?
And how did this form your understanding of being a woman – if you are a man – your understanding of women?
We are inevitably tainted by the inaccuracies and long-held myths about menstruation and being a woman, that are reinforced by the media, advertising and the world around us. This is something that we are all aware of – it feels uncomfortable and strange and I’m pretty sure we could all agree that it is just plain wrong. We don’t want to feel like this, but we don’t know how to free ourselves from the hold it has over us that seems to run so deep. We want to be able to speak freely about menstruation and for our daughters to feel this too…so that they don’t grow up under the same veil that is stained with shame and stigma about a part of their body that is the most natural thing in the world.
So how do we do it then?
No matter how much we say all the right words and put a positive spin on this topic, it is simply not enough. Being ‘period positive’ in a true sense, has to come with a lived experience of the fact. And don’t worry, if you are a man this is still possible.
What we need to do is go back to the beginning. We need to recognise the lie that has been at play, the way it has infiltrated our own lives and that of society as a whole. And from there, we need to re-learn what menstruation is all about. Through understanding we can then appreciate the intricate nature and inner-workings of the female body where we will then wonder how on earth we missed this most magnificent education, where a woman’s cycle is a reflection of her overall health and an opportunity for healing each and every month. We need to understand our role and what our reflection offers our daughters, in how we are with our own body and our relationship with respect, of ourselves and of others.
We need to re-set the standards on this topic and we can only do that by re-setting the standard with ourselves. Without perfection, this comes from a lived way through our own healing and from what is thereafter embodied as the truth and then shared. The conversation with our daughters is then far easier, more honest and comes with an already appreciation and settlement that they can be confirmed in.
This, as opposed to the common narrative we all know so well…or as a contrast from all the positive words in the world. And splashing the word ‘period’ around about the place is not the answer either.
For a girl/young woman to know and appreciate her body is a power beyond measure, it is a lifelong foundation that will hold her in every single aspect of her life and it is everything that she deserves. Simply confirming her in everything she already is.
As a parent/guardian if you would like to explore this further Cycle Wise Education offers a 6 part series called Cycle Wise Parents. This program is designed to support you to bring more truth & understanding to periods and to empower you to support the young women in your lives. Through this awareness you will be able to support your daughter to develop a lifelong confidence and understanding of her own body.
See here for more details on Cycle Wise Parents, to register or put your name on a waiting list.
And to explore this one-on-one with Sara, get in touch via email