Being a woman and our cycles
Being a woman and our cycles
As women we’re naturally attuned to cycles, indeed everything about us is all cycles. We have our periods monthly in a cyclical rhythm that can differ from woman to woman, and indeed for each individual woman can change at different times. It’s beautifully set up to support in exactly what is needed at that particular time.
We’re part of those bigger wider cycles in menstruation and then menopause, each its own cycle, with different expression and asks in how we are with our bodies. We can’t escape it. Even while we might try.
It’s interesting to note in this so-called modern era that we are given many options of hormonal contraception, (and otherwise), that interfere with our monthly cycle, such that we either no longer have our periods at all or we get fake / induced versions of them. And then there’s the phenomenon of sport and women being encouraged to get involved in sports like never before, often the rougher and more physical ones where once again there can be interference with our monthly cycle; with many sportswomen either by design or consequence of their sport and its training no longer having periods, or have seriously irregular ones.
Let’s be clear here, exercise and movement of our bodies are important and necessary for us as women, however excessive force and push on our bodies are not required.
We are naturally delicate, naturally graceful and we’re not designed to be rough and the consequences for our bodies are huge – even while we might accept these consequences as normal or ‘natural’! They’re not. We are a fine-tuned instrument supported by our cycles, yet we have taken to over-riding and / or destroying those cycles, and what they represent and expose for us. How we speak to them is telling, referring to our monthly periods as a curse and then at the other end of the scale dismissing ourselves as women as we move into our menopausal cycles. And let’s just stop and consider this; we complain often bitterly of that thing we have for a huge part of our lives (our periods), denigrate them, curse them, and then once they’re done, once we’re ‘relieved’ of them … we become invisible, we slip away and complain about that next cycle too – our menopause with its many body changes and often discomforts (Those hot flushes respect no schedule!).
What do you reckon? Do we have an issue with the thing we’re presented with, be it menstruation or menopause, really? Or is it that we are absolutely determined in our discontent, stirring it, cultivating it all to avoid the everything that cycles offer us?
We are designed by God with an intricacy, a detail and delicateness that is beyond this world – yet we do not appreciate that in the way we could, and we often dismiss it, or even worse counter it such that our cycles become out of kilter or that we actively ignore what our bodies tell us. And how finely tuned are we that we can disrupt ourselves so … we are delicateness, we are grace exquisitely and undeniably so, and no matter what and how we may disrupt or distract ourselves this never leaves us.
For years in my teens and early twenties I had irregular periods, eventually getting a diagnosis of poly cystic ovarian syndrome and being put on a version of the pill which regularised my cycle. It ‘worked’ in that I had a regular cycle and a ‘period’, but I was overweight, deeply depressed and generally at odds with myself and the world.
I eventually came off the pill in my early 30’s and found that all the underlying irregularity was still there, in fact all the pill had done was mask my symptoms and added some more.
And so began my journey to more deeply understand my cycle, and my part in it. I investigated my nutrition, got further tests to check my hormones, and worked with various practitioners (complementary and medical) in understanding my menstruation cycle more intimately and how and or what it might be communicating with me. I no longer dismissed what my body was sharing with me and began to embrace the fact that I was a delicate, deeply beautiful woman, super sensitive to what was going on in and around her. I had always been this but earlier I had been overwhelmed in how to be in the world with this, going into a hardness and a defence to deal with the world. No wonder my periods were all over the place. Over time the more I listened to what was happening in my body, the more I noticed those little things, how things varied month to month based on how I’d been with myself in the previous month.
It was an absolute revelation for me to meet a young woman called Natalie Benhayon who introduced me to a deeper and greater level of understanding of being a woman, and our cycles as women (Yes there is an app too!).
Through her example, observing her, her lived way and my own exploration I understood that everything matters, that as noted we are that finely tuned instrument, to a level beyond what I’d previously allow myself to comprehend.
This changed my perspective: my previous investigations had been based on me being fixed, having a ‘normal’ cycle or what I was told was a normal cycle, in other words that I and my body were broken. With Natalie’s support I came to observe my cycle, not get stuck on it being a certain way, but in fact see it and allow it to be my feedback loop, that my body was showing me how I’d been living, how I could go deeper. Instead of being a chore, it became a joy to see the intricacies of the body and how it’s responded to the world, and how that impacted on me and those around me.
I fell in love with me, with my cycles, with us as women, and I gloried in seeing it all. And not because I wanted it to be so, but more because I truly honoured that cycle, my periods became less irregular and changed in their expression – less painful, more of a flow – and as a result I felt less stuckness in me and my body. I lost weight, (again not an aim), but it happened through greater listening to my body and changing my relationship with food, letting go things that didn’t work for me – alcohol, gluten, dairy and reducing my sugar. Through being inspired by Natalie’s example and being held in a deep care and love, I had the space to see and honour myself in a way I’d never done before, to be in the joy of me and to celebrate that in me and with those around me. In that space nothing was a stricture – I saw very clearly that nothing was ‘wrong’ with me, my body was just showing me how I’d been living. So any changes I made to honour my body were done with an openness and curiosity, a willingness to drop those things that were no longer supportive, to embrace what truly supported.
I stopped being the victim and fighting the world, and more importantly fighting myself. It’s something for all of us to consider as women as we’re primed to fight to a degree and in that approach, we’re in fact denying the essence and beauty of who and what we are as women and what in fact we represent and bring.
We’re here to reflect the cycles, we’re part of cycles in a way we cannot easily avoid despite our best efforts … you really have got to love that.
I always say God has a sense of humour, thankfully so. We are shown exactly what we need to be shown and nothing stops that – this is deeply beautiful, and such a gift.