Working my way through projects in the house. Sitting and eating lunch with the girls. Reading for the sheer love of it. (Currently, Gilead and Dear Abigail.) Believing in Riley and believing in myself. Hanging pictures and then taking them down again. Forcing myself open and accepting when I cannot do more.
In the quiet, I have found some renewal. I wish, as women, we would each grant ourselves space like this each month. In cultures across the world, menstruating women have been sent, or taken themselves to, spaces apart from their every day lives. Many times, the motives were purely misogynistic. Men forced their women away because they believed they would contaminate them with their blood flow. There are places where this twisted thinking still exists. There isn't anything beautiful or spiritual about believing a woman can't cook because she will pollute the food if she is on her period. But in some cultures, the women were excused from their day to day existence because of a reverence for the sacred parts of womanhood. The place of respite varied but in the most understanding societies, the days spent away became ones of sisterhood and spiritual enlightenment. In many communities, those tents, huts and away places were the epicenters of radical and forward thinking female thought.
Brene Brown says that "Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creation and change." Every month, for seven days, I feel more vulnerable, more raw, more exposed to the complexities of living, than I do at any other time. And for so long, I've ignored the exposure, powered through the emotion, pretended the physical and, at times, mental pain didn't exist. But this week, I walked myself to my metaphorical menstrual hut. (Isn't that a lovely phrase? Let's call stitch that on a pillow somewhere.) I sat and felt and then thought and wrote. I let myself separate the irrational from the rational and in doing so found a few things that I would have missed. I was reminded of the spiritual that is intrinsically tied to the physical. And for the very first time since I was twelve, I realized that what I've always considered to be a scourge, just might be something that forces me to connect to something deeper.
I think in the past I have worked to separate myself from the spirituality of the physicality of womanhood because I find so many of its loudest proponents to be a bit off putting or other. I don't want to belly dance to find my divine feminine, I don't want to paint my body with the sacred symbols of other cultures in order to declare my womanhood and I certainly don't want to actually sit in a tent full of menstruating women. It's not that I judge the women that find place in those activities, it is simply that I cannot find myself in those things. But this week, after deciding the New Age doesn't own the market on physical manifestations of the feminine divine, I found a quiet place that was filled with light. And for the first time, ever, I am anxious to get back there in 28 days.
Here's to being a woman. It's a bloody, painful, grand kind of thing.
And I wouldn't have it any other way.