For years, I was a proud member of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues cast and performances in my college. This is my first ever personal vagina monologue. Enjoy!
I am going to be so mortified if this is the blog entry my dad decides to start reading…
Mortified. That is the word. I was ALWAYS mortified talking about periods as a young person, a young adult, maybe now-ish still.
I have been using this blog as a place to talk about lots of the things I’ve been too mortified to talk about before publicly. In doing so, I am finding SO MANY PEOPLE who actually want to talk about these things, too.
So here I am, doing it. Anyway, this piece is about periods– free bleeding to be exact.
I’m about to straight up talk about menstrual things, so menfolk this is your final warning to get out or avert your eyes if you cannot deal because this is about to get straight up gory.
That means bloody, guys. Volcanoes and valleys of molten blood. Sometimes dried, meaning brown.
Okay did I lose all the men or are some of you still here?
For the ones I didn’t lose, well, prepare to learn things that can’t be unseen and good for you that you want to learn.
This piece is written for any girl or woman that has ever bled through clothes in public. On their gym clothes. Their uniform skirt. Their goddamn favorite jeans, the only ones that fit, the ones for the dance. All the fucking bed sheets and couch cushions, towels. Reds. Browns. For all the women who have had the experience of sneaking into the bathroom with best friends. Asking a stranger for a tampon. Giving a pad to a stranger. Sneaking it. Always sneaking it. Grabbing napkins and casually putting them under a friend in need. Giving your old car leggings to a stranger so she could finish her day and not go home. Or worse, stay in those clothes.
To all those women, one more time, claps and applause and ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome’ because everyone knows these are all real and rooted in truth.
This is just another one of those times, sort of. I’m sharing my most recent bleeding incident, my most recent bloody nightmare, the literal kind not the British kind.
This one didn’t happen where help was around, but rather on a run….
So there I was super far from home on a random run with no distance in mind. I was feeling free and good to go. No leg pain, mile 2. I could go forever. I was planning on going on for some kind of distance, but then it hit. That feeling. Fuck fuck: blood or butt sweat? [Men, yes- we ALWAYS wonder if it is just butt sweat and in sports, sometimes it is!] Did I just get my period?
Hoping for the best. Hoping for the best.
Then it just happened and I knew, I do NOT sweat like that. I do not sweat this much. There was that moment and I just KNEW.
The movie Carrie flashes through my brain.
So here I am. Miles from home and basically free bleeding at this point. I’m free bleeding.
I thought to myself what would all the feminists before me do?
Joking. I didn’t think that at all because I was fucking bleeding.
What did I think? Girl, run the fuck home so we can survive this.
So I did that. I ran home like hell. I ran like Forrest Gump. I just kept running. I wish I could say I ran like the Flash or Sonic, but my turtle speed wanted to put me through a LOT more embarrassment than that. I wish I could say this was like a tire, but this was NOT A SLOW LEAK.
I did not try to cover myself or anything. It isn’t like I could change the situation. I just gave in and ran my stride. I ran my very fastest fastest stride, but my stride nonetheless. I guess there wasn’t actually much time for embarrassment, after all. Focusing on my running seemed to get me out of that. I ran with my head up the whole time more and more impressed with myself that I could even maintain this speed for so long.
Running saves the day again. The mentally strong are built through sport and accomplishment. That speed made me feel so good that I free bled like an athlete would, without regard for anything but sport.
Thank God for that. I sprinted as far and as long as I could. Ironically, I did take a route with a little more mileage to avoid main roads. I mean I wanted to avoid everyone I know seeing me there in my tiny, lime green shorts with the runners undies built in (thank god for that little extra layer of coverage.) Even with that extra layer, those tiny green shorts were turning Christmas themed by this point.
By the time I got to my block taking my scenic route, all the young boys had retired from the basketball hoop for the night, THANK GOD. The only 5 people left outside were teenage girls. I felt saved. There is just something unspoken among other girls. I was safe. They get it. I can walk now.
Once home, I remembered that woman who finished a marathon years ago and got all this attention because she finished bleeding through her shorts. After this happened, I had to read about that runner I remembered: the one who ran the marathon doing what they called “free bleeding”. I did not recall the story or that this runner had actually chosen to run that way, but I did recall the term.
That runner’s name is Kiran Gandhi and in an interview with Cosmo, she stated, “Once I started bleeding, I felt kind of like, ‘Yeah! Fuck you! I felt very empowered by that. I did.’” Her and her friends were running for breast cancer, so she even wore her pink knowing the stain would show. She stated “I need to do whatever it takes to get myself to the end of that line.” And her friends pushed her the whole way.
This woman is such a warrior to me, it’s not even funny. She talked about having painful periods and how she just typically didn’t run on those days. Adding a tampon to that never having trained that way would have been a nightmare on marathon day. This was truly her best option and considering the amount of runners that I know just piss themselves for races or marathons, I am surprised this is even something out of the ordinary. Bodily fluids don’t seem to phase runners (unless god forbid it was someone else’s. Gross.) Also I must emphasize the running buddy life; this woman’s friends pushed her to complete the race even in pain. Women lifting each other up is my favorite. Seems like her friends made her feel like a superhero to me; that’s friendship!
Anyway, that’s the thing with most women athletes. We aren’t asking for anything special. We just wanna do the thing as we are and not let our periods get in the way. We just don’t want to let being a woman, in general, get in the way of our sports. It is a whole additional issue that is always lingering over every game, every match, every event.
Personally, I find it extremely badass when women don’t let it phase them. I mean, seriously, I do still struggle with talking about periods in person sometimes. I am an adult female and I still won’t always ask for a tampon out loud. I am trying to be better, but it is so ingrained in me.
Periods are still so taboo, so just living out loud is revolutionary.
All I know is this happened and I survived. I do not feel revolutionary, but I feel like I have come WORLDS from where I was in the past.
I am loving my body in a way I never have before. I won’t choose to free bleed again, but I am pretty proud of the badass way I responded to it. Jesus, I didn’t even cry. Also when did you get so fast, Michie? HELLLLOOOOO!!!
Running and rugby seem a lot more related to me than ever before. I mean I always considered rugby players to be the most insane athletes, who just do ANYTHING for the sport. The more I am entrenched in the running world, the more I see that same thing in these athletes. There is an intensity to runners as well as a huge community of people who will push each other to finish. Absolute strangers and yet they want each other to win or play the best they can. It’s amazing and I am glad to be a part of both.
As for my big learning, I have to steal this from Kiran:
“I need to do whatever it takes to get myself to the end of that line.”