“It’s so hard to hurt” –Elsa Kennedy
Fiction. Based on a True Bloodstain
This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional
Starting your period in a different country is always an experience. It’s bound to happen. You pray that it won’t start on a flight. It’ll either be constant pain, or a constant trip to the bathroom. Not fun things to experience while on a long flight
Then there’s having to adapt in a place that isn’t home while trying to conceal the thing you can’t control. At least you’re in a place where there isn’t a cultural stigma against periods, and you can get supplies, but you still the need to hide any traces of the bodily functions that come with being a woman. You’ve been to places where that’s not an option. Still, you bring what supplies you can, but you still lack that safe space where you don’t worry as much about the pad not working properly or having to go to the bathroom all the time. There are white linens on the bed, so if something happens, you can’t hide the shame. Always white and clean things to expose what wants to drip out.
You remember starting your period when you were eleven, well before the other girls did. You were alone, trying to figure out all the changes. At first, you thought you were dying. Blood is meant to stay in the body, but you learned from your mother. You learned how to handle it. Erase any traces of blood, any signs of discomfort. No one can know that you bleed. Or so it felt like. You remember the one time you started your period in class and didn’t have a pad, remember seeing the smear on the chair and fearing that your life was over.
It took years to learn the signs of when it would begin. The irritation and mood swings. The creak of your bones and the aches through your back. The feeling of organs contracting and shifting in anticipation. The unseen preparations month after month.
When it starts you try your hardest to keep things concealed, hoping the pain won’t manifest on your face and that there won’t be a trail of red following you or that you don’t smell. When you discovered the Flex discs and worked up the courage to use them, the game changed. You could go your day without really knowing you were on your period. But there is the cost when you go to change out the disc or tampon. Blood is always messy. It’s never easy to remove. You have to deal with it eventually.
God must have had a greater plan when He gave women periods. The monthly pain goes on for years. Always expected to endure without pausing life. Sometimes they would isolate us, make us feel unclean for something that was meant to prepare life. Over and over, tearing and cramping and bleeding. It’s a forging process men don’t experience. They were made from earth while we were created from bone and blood. Meant to be something stronger than Adam’s line could ever hope to achieve for the life of women has never been easy. A resilient spirit grown under curves and breasts. Like steel tempered through blood, the constant honing and sharpening until it’s something solid.
Men have always had war, but women have seen more blood.
It’s not a hardening of spirit but a tempering. Like strong trees in the wind that bend but don’t break. Flexible but sturdy. There are still tears and heating pads and bottles of Pamprin, but we endure. Pain doesn’t equal weakness. Something used to define women as weak is something much more than that. Period is power, as many are learning to embrace. You’re learning it too even though you wish sometimes that you could rip your uterus out or punch your brother when he says that cramps don’t hurt. Sometimes people make it seem like a feminist rant where we wave bloody fists in the air or throwing used tampons around. What’s wrong with a little anger? Wouldn’t men be angry too if they bleed for a week each month for years and were made to feel ashamed about it? But that’s an issue for another time.
For now, you still adjust the pad to make sure it doesn’t leak. Stains on your favorite pants and underwear are a pain. Blood can always be cleaned off tiles. It will end in a week. You keep existing and being the human being you are. The blood reminds you that you’re still alive.