| Ebb and flow

I have spent the vast ma­jor­ity of my life liv­ing in a highly sen­si­tive woman’s body, but treat­ing it more like a ma­chine. A Chi­nese doc­tor once said to me, “You’re prob­a­bly in for a short and hec­tic life.”

Living Now - - Editorial - By Jules Suther­land

I have spent the vast ma­jor­ity of my life liv­ing in a highly sen­si­tive woman’s body, but treat­ing it more like a ma­chine.

Igot my first pe­riod when I was ten. In hospi­tal. Turns out I didn’t have ap­pen­dici­tis af­ter all, I had pe­riod pain. But too late for that - my ap­pen­dix had come out the day be­fore. No prob­lem. Who misses an ap­pen­dix, se­ri­ously? But the pe­riod was a big deal. Not that I didn’t know what was go­ing on, I did. My Mum had filled both my older sis­ter and I in on the facts, and I’d al­ready read my way through the en­tire Judy Blume back cat­a­logue.

But apart from a brief stint of pride of feel­ing more ‘grown up’ than the other girls in my class and the cou­ple of classes above me (in­clud­ing my 12 yearold sis­ter), I didn’t wel­come the ar­rival of this re­cur­ring vis­i­tor at all. I be­grudged the cramps, the pads, the fact that my Mum had to ask the school to put san­i­tary dis­posal units in the pri­mary school toi­lets.

Through my later teens I grew to re­sent my bleed­ing time all the more, as the cramps got more and more painful, and I started hav­ing to nav­i­gate it all along with in­tense study, boyfriends and other first world prob­lems.

My doc­tor pre­scribed the pill to al­le­vi­ate the cramps, and I took it willingly at the time, de­spite not be­com­ing sex­u­ally ac­tive for a year or two after­wards.

Flash for­ward about a decade…my self-en­quiry path had re­cently led me to delve with de­light all things sa­cred fem­i­nine. Some­where be­tween play­ing Mary Mag­da­lene, read­ing The Mists of Avalon and danc­ing un­der many a har­vest moon, my witchy priest­ess self was alive and well, star­ing at the packet of pills in her hand with a big raised eye­brow and mus­ing: some­thing’s wrong with this pic­ture, girl­friend.

I weaned my­self off the pills and started to ob­serve my own rhythms. How my cy­cle ebbed and flowed in re­la­tion to the moon, and the sub­se­quent dance of my emo­tional state. I rel­ished my pe­riod as sa­cred, and did my best to hon­our it with rit­ual and in­ten­tion. And thus things con­tin­ued for another 10 years or so.

Af­ter a bro­ken con­dom the morn­ing of my 37th birth­day I took the Morn­ing Af­ter Pill. My play, Swan Dive - in many ways my ode to the sa­cred fem­i­nine, and con­stantly re­ferred to as ‘my baby’ - had just opened the night be­fore. I had far too much to fo­cus on than whether or not I may have ac­ci­den­tally con­ceived, so I just took the pill with­out giv­ing it too much thought. No big­gie, right?

Not ac­cord­ing to my body. Af­ter that two years of cyclic up­heaval en­sued (with a sum to­tal of 5 pe­ri­ods in 23 months); hor­monal and adrenal may­hem. With no pe­riod to mark my cy­cle I was lost at sea, felt out of tune, and of­ten - when the hor­monal flux was wreak­ing havoc with my emo­tions - I felt like I’d

been cast out of the tem­ple. No longer fem­i­nine. No longer a daugh­ter of The Goddess. Way to crush a sis­ter, Mama.

Baf­fled doc­tors tested for pre­ma­ture menopause or thy­roid dys­func­tion. For­tu­nately the re­sults showed I had nei­ther.

Just when I was start­ing to won­der if I would ever see my beloved cy­cle again, one day I bled. Then the next month, I did again. And now I’ve been back in sync for just over two years.

A huge amount of learn­ing has come with all of th­ese ad­ven­tures into my womb space. It’s been a ride, al­right. But the main les­son that keeps re­it­er­at­ing it­self to me is that - like ev­ery­body, re­gard­less of gen­der - my body is unique. And as such it has unique needs and sen­si­tiv­i­ties.

I have spent the vast ma­jor­ity of my life liv­ing in a highly sen­si­tive woman’s body, but treat­ing it more like a ma­chine; fast-paced life­style, run­ning on adren­a­line, poor rest and self-nur­tur­ing prac­tices, de­mand­ing more and more of this phys­i­cal ve­hi­cle with­out giv­ing it much care in re­turn. As a Chi­nese doc­tor once said to me, “You can con­tinue do­ing that if you like. Just you’re prob­a­bly in for a short and hec­tic life.”

Touche! As I ap­proach my 41st birth­day, I take a mo­ment to hon­our this wise, re­spon­sive, and deeply fem­i­nine body that I’ve been gifted. Body, thank you for re­silience and pa­tience, and for be­ing the best teacher I could ever ask for. I will do my best to treat you with re­spect, care, ten­der­ness and love, that we may dance to­gether through this amaz­ingly charmed life for many long and healthy years ahead.

I am woman. Hear me purr. n

Con­nect with other read­ers & com­ment on this ar­ti­cle at www.liv­ing­now.com.au

Jules Suther­land is a lover, artist, dreamer and re­al­ist who pas­sion­ately be­lieves that hu­mans are pretty awe­some. Her business, Per­pet­ual Mojo, is the lovechild of her long-term love af­fairs with hu­man con­nec­tion, embodiment, con­scious­ness and self-ex­pres­sion.

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