About the Campfire Series:
Here at The Wild Woman Project, we deeply believe in the power of learning from and celebrating each other’s diverse experiences, stories, and perspectives. We also believe there is great power in allowing yourself to be witnessed. The Campfire Series gives us the feeling of gathering with our closest sisters around a fire (or a candle, or a bottle of wine) and sharing intimate stories. Naturally, when women gather, no two experiences are the same. These stories can range from sharing deep epiphanies, “hell yaasss” moments, heartaches, and downright silliness.
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I remember the very first time I began menstruating. I was 13 years old, it was summer time, I was the only daughter living at home and so I only had my Mother to ask questions to. She was 55 years old. It was awkward, and so I quietly whispered to her that I started me period. She asked a myriad of questions like: How did I know? Was I sure? Did I know what a pad was? And let me know that she would tell my Dad, which of course mortified me.
I felt a twinge of sadness, as if I’d somehow disappoint him by growing up, like I had caused this to happen, and I was no longer his little girl. That was the stigma…no longer being that innocent little girl. As an adult, this seems absurd to me because of course, I don’t associate sadness with my menstrual cycle, but I’m also not a Father, and I also don’t have the hang ups about my blood that generations before me did.
My cycles were always extremely painful. I would have to stay home from school on account of the pain. My Mom would have to bring me clothes more times than I could count because I would have bled through my pads. I remember asking her about tampons and her response was “I don’t know. I’ve never used them.” Fine. I had a ton of girlfriends who did, I’d find out how to use them.
Bleeding was painful, inconvenient, gross, all the negative adjectives you can name. Every month I’d go through half a bottle of Midol, my face would break out horribly, I felt like an alien inside my body was taking over and I no longer had any grasp on who I was. Every teen magazine had an article about the dreaded period. I did dread it. Every day of my teenage life. Until one day I didn’t get my period. A few weeks went by and my period still hadn’t arrived. I had been in a pretty sexually heavy relationship at the time but it never dawned on me I could be pregnant, but of course, I was.
I sat on the overlook peering over the Valley that our beloved Mountain creates and told my boyfriend that I was pregnant. We were both 17 years old. We both knew we would decide to not keep the baby. It broke us. We had been each other’s best friend for most of our lives…and now it was the lack of blood that created so much dread and sadness.
The weeks and months that proceeded asked a lot of me. I experienced bleeding from the surgical abortion that I had to end my pregnancy. I bled quite heavily, experienced strong cramping, deep sadness, felt mortified, yet I was able to lean into the sadness and morbidity to find solace. I collected the blood of my deceased baby and buried it underneath my favorite childhood tree. This was the first time I had ever honored my blood. I needed to. I needed to honor the life essence that is present with every thick, red drop. Thus began my sacred relationship with my menstrual cycle.
I no longer viewed it as an inconvenience. I no longer cried with dread over “Aunt Flo”. I welcomed her, I honored her, I was glad she’d arrived and I begged her to tell me stories of my pain and anguish so that I may learn and grow and honor and respect all aspects of life as it unfolds. This way of accepting my cycles led me to honor each cycle that waxed and waned. This way also helped me cope with each miscarriage I would experience….the blood that carried my child out of my womb would be tangible evidence of the miraculous gift we are given by being able to have a uterus, ovaries, and house another human being before they present their crown to the world. It is a miracle and THIS is what I aim to pass down to my daughters.
Giving birth to living babies and deceased babies has given me a distinct insight into the honorable process it is for our wombanly bodies to do what they do. I have five daughters, with one of them currently in her cycle. She experiences strong symptoms each month, and instead of offering her Midol, I offer her a hot water bottle, a cozy blanket, and remind her of the breathing exercises she can do to move through each cramp, connecting her to the rhythm of her womb, the feel of her flow, and what her blood looks like and why. I ask her to sit quietly with herself so that she can hear what it is her body needs, what is her Spirit wants her to know, how she can prepare for the next phase of creation. She believes that her Mama is a bit wacky, but this doesn’t stop her from asking me for guidance or warming her hot water bottle. I fully believe that one day she will offer the same bit of wisdom to the teenage girls in her life…because these whispers of liberation and freedom are stored in a safe place and referenced time and time again.
I have one daughter at the cusp of her cycle and she is currently experiencing the shifting emotions, the hormonal imbalances, and changes to a body she once thought she knew. She has witnessed the two oldest women in her life move through their body’s wisdom in a way that helps her know that we have solutions to offer her. She understands that she’s feeling funny but doesn’t understand why…and so we tell her, together, two sisters and their Mama, over a cup of red raspberry leaf tea.
It isn’t at all lost on me that my daughters will have their own individual relationships to their blood. They will most definitely hate their periods for some time, be embarrassed by it, and get grumpy because of it, we will simply strive to embrace all facets of our human lives, and not pretend but rather bring authenticity in our arrival to each individual moment, however that may look, but at least we have a choice.
Being in a house full of girls means that at some point in time we will all be bleeding. The two men in our lives have had an up close and personal experience with our blood. For my husband (Father of our children) he has been the runner to the store when supplies were needed, the supporter and comforter when backs needed rubbing, the frozen pea holder when headaches have set in, and when we can no longer keep our truths hidden behind the fake smile of “everything is fine’, he’s been the sounding board, and sometimes the metaphorical punching bag. He has recognized the importance of honoring our blood as part of our story and he helps us write every new chapter in a loving and compassionate way. He doesn’t view our bleeding as gross and doesn’t dread the times when we become emotionally outspoken. He breathes with us.
As for my son, we’ve done our best to impose upon him these things of nature. He has become decreasingly grossed out at the idea of a woman bleeding and limits his society induced, patriarchal poking fun of PMS, and saying things like “what? are you on the rag or something” when his sister isn’t putting up with his bullshit anymore. Our children are increasingly bombarded with society’s belief systems, but we keep getting to them first so they always have both sides of the coin to see.
Our menstrual cycles are the keys that unlock the doors to this plane of existence, and with each uterine lining and egg that is shed, we are ushering a being out of this world. Our blood is life and the miracle that it is holds value and reverence for this next generation of bleeders. I will never forget the child I released, the Soul I chose not to host during this human life, but their impression on me is one that will hold on for lifetimes, and has continued to affect more than just my own…because they do exist somewhere, in the lives that bred from the blood I poured into the earth that August day, and in their kin that I carried forth into this lifetime.
“It takes a lot of time, focus, and energy to realize the enormity of being the ocean with your very own tide every month. However, by honoring the demands of bleeding, our blood gives something in return. The crazed bitch from irritation hell recedes. In her place arises a side of ourselves with whom we may not, at first, be comfortable. She is a vulnerable, highly perceptive genius who can ponder a given issue and take her world by storm. When we’re quiet and bleeding, we stumble upon the solutions to dilemmas that’ve been bugging us all month. Inspiration hits and moments of epiphany ‘rumba across the tundra’ of our senses. In this mode of existence one does not feel antipathy towards a bodily ritual that so profoundly and routinely reinforces our cuntpower.”
~ Inga Muscio
On the Horizon
Join us for a very special edition of WILD WOMAN SCHOOL on December 21st
Amanda will guide us in exploring the gifts of the season – Wild Woman Style.
Learn More & Claim Your Seat Here! Hope to see you there!