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Ebb and flow

In Women's Health by Jules Sutherland2 Comments

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.”

 

I got 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 year-old 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.

 

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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  1. Jules Sutherland

    Thanks so much for your comment, Teresa. I really honour the way you’re approaching your experience of menopause. As someone who’s yet to journey that stage of my life, I can only imagine how profound a change it must be. I wish you all the best and wonderful health and self-awareness as you move through this time with evident grace. Thanks for taking the time to read my piece and comment. Blessings and gratitude to you. Jules x

  2. I really enjoyed your article Jules, and your approach to your body is somewhat similar to how I am tackling menopause. I have made a decision to not complain about the symptoms but to be ‘the observer’ and be filled with wonder about the changes in my body. I am grateful to have a physical process towards my ‘getting of wisdom’ as a mature middle-aged woman. Yes, there’s discomfort but I’m working with it and again, just being grateful that I am simply going through a natural process that all women go through. I’m open to getting help if things get too difficult, but so far so good. I’ve been fortunate enough to have three beautiful children and I am happy to accept this next stage in my fertility cycle, that is, the letting go of all that made me a healthy fertile younger woman. I’m lucky too, I have resources and circumstances that makes it reasonably easy for me to manage the hot flushes. I really feel for women who live, work or have to be in situations where they can’t easily take layers of clothes off, or go get a cold drink or step outside or whatever. It makes me wonder how sensitive workplaces are to women going through menopause?

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