As women, why do we find it so difficult to stop and take time for ourselves on the first day of our bleed? I have been reflecting on this question, which has been spurred on by re-reading parts of the Code Red book by Lisa Lister. You’ve heard me mention this book before on my recent post on using cotton menstrual pads and I will be sharing many more blog posts on the gems that I have gained from reading it.
I think there are many different reasons why we find it difficult to stop and I can only speak about my own experience. Mother’s guilt, that’s a good one that comes up in so many occasions. Living up to the ‘expectations’ (or more like my perceived expectations) of society to keep hush about the fact that I’m bleeding so instead soldier on at a masculine pace. When I was younger I even found it difficult to tell my own father that I was on my period. I was embarrassed and ashamed of what was happening and didn’t know how or what to say to explain my sudden change of character or the reason I was experiencing so much pain. I didn’t feel it was appropriate to tell the whole world that I was bleeding and that actually I needed to push a deadline backwards by a couple of days to give myself time to bleed.
I now see and understand things differently. Our bleed is our time each month to filter through everything that has happened in that cycle and assess whether things are working for us or not. Lisa Lister explains that the pain or uncomfortable symptoms that we experience in pre-menstruation and menstruation are actually our bodies way of telling us what is NOT ok with how we have lived the past cycle. The moment we start bleeding we have a direct line to SHE, or whatever you want to call your higher force. The wise woman inside of you. By making time to stop we open up to the potential of receiving this wisdom which we can then utilise in our next cycle. So if it’s a new job offer, a contract to sign or any big decision that you need to make, you could delay the decision making until after you have bled on it 😉
In ancient times women were sent to Red Tents to bleed. It wasn’t because they were dirty. It was because it was acknowledged that this was an important time in a woman’s life where she needed space. It is impossible to connect with SHE when we try to keep up with the masculine pace of life. Feminine energy is flexible and changeable. Slowing down and taking stock gives us the chance to refuel and then be ready with twice as much energy and stamina to complete what we need to do as we move into different parts of our cycle.
Since I’ve become aware of this ancient wisdom and opportunity available to me each month, I have made a conscious effort to clear my calender for the days that I know my bleed is expected to begin. I don’t book a photo shoot, or a new client meeting or put myself in any situation where I know I won’t be able to offer my best. So instead of dreading my time of bleeding, I now begin to look forward to the opportunity that it presents and the clarity that comes.
I appreciate that not everyone’s schedule allows for them to take off an entire day to sit and bleed and spend time in yoga nidra, journalling, self pampering or napping if need be. It may only be possible to take half a day, or even a conscious hour to check in. I really feel that it’s important to communicate to those around you (especially if you live with someone) that this is what you’re going to begin doing, why you’re doing it and to ask that the time be respected. As a mother I feel that I spend most of my time going above and beyond my fair share of giving to other people. I now realise that during my bleeding time, I really need the support and I can only get it if I communicate to the people around me. Expecting everyone else to mind read is a recipe for rage and disaster!
Lisa suggests creating a special alter for bleeding time or even making a red tent out of a blanket to sit inside and connect. If this isn’t your thing, or not available to you with your schedule, it may be that you simply wear some red jewellery or paint your nails crimson red. Do whatever it is that you need to remind yourself to honour this sacred time, especially when you go out into the world over the next days of bleeding.
I feel that it’s really important that the men in our lives know about what is happening to us each month and how they can support us. It’s to everyone’s benefit that this sacred time is utilised and respected. There is no shame or need to apologise.
Imagine if I had known this information from the first time I ever had a period… To have not gone through years of feeling the need to hide the fact that I’m bleeding for fear of embarrassing or offending others or being uncomfortable with it myself. I would have been able to understand the intense pain and emotions that I couldn’t handle and listen to what my body was trying to communicate with me. If I had known to give my soul space to connect with my inner wisdom, I might have had a much easier experience of adolescence and my 20s.
What is it that stops you from taking your time to bleed? If you know someone that could benefit from reading this post please forward it on to them. It’s time to break the silence and take what we need.