The ‘First’ Series: Betty, 32

Welcome to our ‘First’ Series where we shall be sharing stories from our contributors on when they started their periods. 

Start of Things to Come

I will always remember that it was around Christmas that I started my Period.  As I hid my Pads in an empty celebrations container under my bed – I was that embarrassed.

Unlike other girls I did not start in a public place- thought of doing so at school or at church, standing up from a chair and looking back to see blood – sounds like the stuff of nightmares.

I was Lucky.

I woke up one morning went to the toilet and there I was my first ‘monthly friend’ as I have grown accustomed to calling it.

I remember feeling in shock and a sense of disbelief.

At 14 I had happily deluded myself that it wouldn’t happen to me… unlike my friends who had fallen prey to the deadly ‘period’ at such ages at 10!  And 11!

I had managed to get into my teens unscathed.

I didn’t know 

Until that moment I had literally had ONE lesson in school aged 11 and a total of ZERO conversations with mother – the sums didn’t add up. My mother wasn’t home but luckily, she kept her pads under the bathroom sink which I used.    For the rest of the day I became a paranoid wreck, double checking everywhere I sat did not leave a tell-tale sign that I was now ‘a woman’. The paranoia stemmed to how often I changed the pad which was every hour because of my fear of leaking and having no concept on what light and heavy flows were.

Differences

The worst thing about starting my period is that I realised that I was different from my brothers. Until then, I had enjoyed playing football and pretending to be my favourite wrestler (the Undertaker) whilst play fighting with my brothers.

From that day on I realised that I was far from one of the boys (I had no sisters) and the fact that I bled made me an ‘other’ in my eyes and I believed (wrongly) in time my brothers too.  This saddened me.

The Talk that Never Was

When my mother finally came home from work – I rushed to her talk to her about my day and that I had started my period. I hoped that her words would soothe me and affirm my hopes that nothing had to change.

On my announcement, my mother inspected my closely and simply told me that If I had sex I would become pregnant. In a single sentence my mother had added an additional annexe of fear to my already transforming body.

The feelings of dread and embarrassment stayed with me for many years and it is only when I arrived solidly into my mid 20s did I learn to embrace my periods and all the treasures of being a woman.

Upon Reflection

I am now 32 and wish I could have told my 14-year-old self not to spend a decade carrying around self-imposed shame on what is a natural process of the body.

Although I cannot go back in time – I hold hope that I can be a beacon of support to my daughter when that time comes.

Instilling her with the confidence to embrace all the gifts that her body gives.

Whilst still having the limitless belief that

as a girl,

as a woman,

who bleeds,

she can still achieve all things.

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