You thought maybe this was over didn’t you? Or at least you hoped so. It’s okay, I did too. Looking back, I cringe for that naive little girl. The one who glamorized puberty, in order to survive it. That girl would one day pick up a copy of Girl’s Life magazine at the library, and read an article about how one girl realized that if you drink water (cup after cup) before you eat, you might not be as hungry as you thought. Your body can disguise dehydration as hunger. Huh. She filed that away in her memory quite neatly. The same with an area of a book that told of how a competitive runner ran so much that she no longer had her period. That was filed under a different call number, but tucked away just as safely in her mental card catalog.
One day I felt kind of constipated, which wasn’t abnormal for me at the time. So I didn’t think much of it, until I used the bathroom and saw a rusty stain in my underwear. What was this? Was this the moment I had been waiting for? Really? Today didn’t seem any different from any other day, but okay, this was really happening. Okay. Except…I didn’t know what to do. What if I wanted to swim? Would the bleeding be minimal, so that I’d hardly even notice? If it stayed like it was right now, I could handle that. What was all the fuss? The maximum absorbancy pads? The super plus tampons? Who needed those things?
Me, apparently. The next day, I told my mom that I had begun my period. She showed me where the pads and things were, and that was it. Done. Simple as could be. Except. Except next month, when my period showed up? It wasn’t quite as gentle. I was cranky and crampy for a few days, and bled more than I had my first time. And then…something seemed to break within me. And I couldn’t walk without fear of bleeding so much I might die. I’m sure I’m being melodramatic here, but I wasn’t even a teenager. And I knew that none of the pads or tampons in the closet would contain my miserable bleeding. I can remember waking up in the morning and gathering everything I would need for the next few hours, books, school texts, pencils…and settling in on the couch until further notice, so as not to worry about having to get up and walk. The cramps killed, and though I took ibuprofen, the pain was only slightly dulled, not diminished. I was miserable. Was this what I had to look forward to? I decided then and there that I didn’t want to grow up. Just like Peter Pan, I was looking for a never-never land, where time stood still, or better yet; moved backward. For about a year, I blamed not myself, but my mom for some of the issues I had. I kept thinking, if only she had talked to me, if only we were closer…I swore that if I ever had a daughter, I would never leave her side. But I have come to realize that none of this was my mother’s fault. Instead, if I am going to play the “if only” game, I should be thinking “if only I had spoken my mind, if only I had asked her, if only I hadn’t been so afraid and sickened by my own body”. If only indeed.