The day I got my first period, I thought I was dying. My family and I were on holiday at the time. It was early in the morning and I’d woken up with a strange tummy ache. When I went to the bathroom and found dark red spots on my underwear, my heart sank.
Some strange fear and shyness prevented me from telling my mother what was going on. I didn’t know what was going on. The word “period” did cross my mind but this couldn’t be it, I’d thought. I was expecting something else – I’ll spare you the details.
I spent the next couple of days bathing multiple times – fortunately, the flow was minimal so there was no damage done. When the bleeding ceased, I sighed with relief. I thought my life had been spared miraculously.
The next month, there was no pain. Just a weird sensation in my belly. I thought I could ignore it. Until a teacher pulled me aside at school and told me there was a big stain on the back of my dress. I turned and saw the huge, red mark and I burst into tears.
She calmed me down, wrapped a jersey around my waist and gave me a pad.
From that day, though, I treated my period like it was something to be ashamed of. Whenever I needed pads, I’d go to my mom and whisper “Mama, I need pads.”
When I started buying them by myself, I’d buy a heap of other stuff so I could hide my pads. And when the person at the till swiped them, I’d look away.
That carried on for a couple of years until I stopped to question why I was so embarrassed. Menstruation is a normal process for a female. Why am I acting like I’m cursed?
Why am I acting like I’m an abomination of some sort?
Why am I ashamed?
From then to this day, I walk into the supermarket boldly and buy my gear with no shame. I’ll make eye contact with anyone that glares at me.
Something changed from that day on as well. I learned to stop walking around like I owed everyone an apology. My early teenage years consisted of me walking around ready to take the blame for anything and everything, and doing anything to please those around me.
I preferred to be the quiet kid who did her work and interfered with no one’s business. I rarely spoke up. Shyness was an understatement. I was scared to try out new things too. I feared taking leaps of faith. If there was a school play, I’d apply to play a role the equivalent of a tree because I feared being rejected if I tried out the bigger roles.
I rarely partook in class discussions in fear of ending up in a debate. I hated speaking. I hated myself, to be honest. I was unhappy with my appearance.
But on that day I decided to stop being ashamed of my period, I also opened myself up to being open to being…me. Well, learning to embrace who I was – as young as I was.
I made friends. I explored my creativity. I learned to use my voice.
It didn’t happen instantly. But that’s when it started. That day, I realized that I could no longer afford to act like a child. I couldn’t let myself be walked over. I couldn’t let anyone (besides my parents since I was still a minor, hehe) make decisions for me. I had to use my voice.
I had to embrace myself.
I had to accept that I was no longer a girl. Not a small one or a big one.
I’d become a woman and it was time for me to accept it, embrace it and rock the hell out of it.
It’s been several years since that day.
And though I’ve had a couple downers, I’m still moving, still embracing, and still slaying the hell out of this life. Well, getting there.
But it’s all good nonetheless. I’m a woman.
Chipo Biti is a writer, blogger and speaker. Her main blog is mindmymind.wordpress.com where she pours out many things that go on in her mind. Chipo has a love for helping people and seeing them reach their goals. You can find her on Twitter: @FayBiti.
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