No, not the punctuation, my friends. Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about the monthly cycle that plagues vaginas and the humans that own them for over half of their life. That same phenomenon that makes a lot of people terribly uncomfortable to talk about. I can’t tell you how many random readers will stumble upon this post and won’t even read this sentence, they closed out of their browser so quickly, once they realized what this post was so forwardly about. Thanks for sticking around, btw. It’s only going to get more real.
I will never forget a really good friend of mine in college became absolutely, truly disgusted when I told him I was on my period nonchalantly, because I open up about everything and anything once I become friends with someone (or even when I don’t, apparently, as I’m blasting personal details throughout this post). And though I wasn’t offended by his repulsion, I’ve never forgotten how truly uncomfortable he was by it; something that is as natural to me as breathing.
That’s Important Point One.
My friend isn’t the only one who responds this way. In fact, more people–and entire cultures–respond negatively, consider it taboo or won’t talk about it at all because they are disgusted than people who are comfortable surrounding it. Unfortunately, I cannot find an article that I read, but I remember reading a massively long article that was published a few months ago about how many cultures still consider periods to be this unnatural and horrendous act, shunning their women during this time, keeping them in seclusion or labeling them unclean. And that shocked me that such a mindset could still be held, and held widely in some places, when it’s 2016.
That’s Important Point Two.
If you want to get real personal (which we’re about to, so don’t keep reading if you don’t want to), I absolutely abhor my periods, even though I’m not grossed out by them and I know it’s perfectly normal and okay to have them. I hate them because of what I have to go through, knowingly, without fail, every month: losing so much blood that I had to get on special birth control because I’m anemic with O- blood and it wasn’t healthy; having to alter what I wear, how I sleep and what I do for an entire week every month; the emotional mood swings that I am aware are happening yet can’t control because I’m still feeling X amount of intense emotions and those emotions are still valid, even if irrational or ridiculous and heightened by raging hormones; but worst of all, the amount of *pain* that I experience, even diluted thank to birth control, that I have to pretend doesn’t exist because I can’t pause life, despite the reality of my entire body wracking with so much pain that I can barely function, so I go to work and push forward despite the sweat, the bloating, the constant feeling like I need to puke, the daggers of pain into my stomach, vagina, back at any given time and ultimately, feeling generally disgusted with myself, my appearance, my worth, all while pretending to be totally okay.
That’s Important Point Three.
The best part? I still have people tell me that the pain I experience during this time? It isn’t real. I should get over it. I should suck it up. And stop being so hormonal. Also, can you please not talk about it or mention it because it grosses me out and it’s rather disgusting and you’re rather disgusting at this moment, so please, just stop.
That’s Important Point Four.
What’s the point of all these points, you ask? Combine them all and you get the inspiration behind my next book, which I’m starting on November 1st for NaNoWriMo. You guessed it, friends. I’ve alluded to it offhandedly a few times in blogs and mentioned it to a few friends, but just so we’re clear: my sixth book is completely, totally and utterly focused on periods. But just not periods, but looking at periods in a positive and unabashedly real light. The book, tentatively titled BLOOD PRICE, is set in a fantasy world in a different time and though I only have the bare bones figured out–I know the main character, I know the main conflict and I know almost every beat (still can’t figure out this ending)–I know for certain that you can’t read it without acknowledging and thinking about periods in the forefront of your mind.
Why am I writing a book about periods?
Let me tell you.
I was driving home from work one day a few months ago. This was back when I was living with my parents and commuting to work. I got off at midnight, so it took me about an hour to drive. During this particular evening, I had started my period whilst at work; always a jolly ole time. Personally, the first day and the last day of my periods are the worst for both bleeding and the pain. And during this particular drive, the pain was so intense that I was white-knuckling the steering wheel, trying different breathing patterns to hopefully help the cramps stop as the medicine was useless. Better yet? This pain had been happening all day and I worked a nine hour shift.
All I could think about was how, if I wrote, in excruciating detail, every bit of pain I felt, how some people wouldn’t believe what I was feeling at that very moment was real; how some people would want me to stay secluded in a box for a week so I don’t taint them; how some people wouldn’t want to know what I’m going through because the details are too much for them, because I am too gross. And it pissed me off. And then another wave would hit and I couldn’t think at all, about anything, aside from the pain. But I knew that I wanted to write about it. But not just a blog post or a rant on Facebook. I wanted to write something that one day, potentially, if I could do it justice, could be really meaningful, perhaps inspiring or maybe even enlightening.
By the time I parked at home, the idea for BLOOD PRICE was cemented and had won me over thoroughly and I knew, even months ago, that I would be writing it for NaNoWriMo.
I’m not sure how it’s going to turn out or what’s even going to happen within it. But I do know this: in that book, periods are as natural as they are here, but they are regarded in a positive light and in an open manner amongst all members. In that world, women are respected, believed and cherished, both during their period and off; three things I wouldn’t mind being treated not just by my family and friends (which, very luckily, I am), but by society as a whole. Do I think this book, if it were published, is going to change the entire worldview and completely alter beliefs and taboos surrounding periods that have been held for centuries? Not even the slightest.
No harm in trying though, right?
PS: The fact that I actually start my period tomorrow and will be on it for the beginning stages of writing this book is so apt, I’m taking it as a blessing of some sort for the writing of this story, no matter how irrational that is. It’s ironic, if nothing else.