“You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” Morpheus, the Matrix.
Do you ever have nights deep in the premenstruum, lying awake in your bed at 2am, wondering what the hell is ever going to become of your life while the critic is haunched by your bedside? Or maybe you’ve found yourself doubled up on a bathroom floor, vomiting with pain with no one to hold your hair or stroke your back, telling you you’re going to be ok. All the whilst trying to hold some tiny thread that there is a deeper wisdom trying to make itself known? Perhaps your deep feminine wisdom told you to leave your marriage, your home, all financial security, calling you to your ancestral roots in Wales to heal the trauma of your lineage by offering your blood to a the land, while making your livelihood evangelically spreading the word of menstruality? Ah.. maybe that last one’s just me.
Do you ever wish you’d chosen the blue pill instead of the red? Except in this version of the Menstruality Matrix, Morpheus is played by Red School’s Alexandra Pope, and Neo, her partner in unmasking the truth is taking form as Sjanie Hugo Whurlitzer.
Living cyclicly can feel so fulfilling. Menstruation an absolute sacred holy event. But you know what? I have to name it….it can also at times feel seriously hard. Especially if you don’t have people around you who understand, support or acknowledge just what an intrinsic aspect of our feminine nature it is.
And during this months bleed it had me wondering, how many of us do?
How many of us have to find all of the places within ourselves that would have once been fulfilled by a tribe or healthy community? How many of us have to juggle playing Mother, Father, Aunt, Sister, Grandmother? How many of us have to develop our own healthy Inner Mother or Elder to fill the empty spaces where our own might have been if things had been different? How many of us tend our wounded maidens each month, healing layer after layer of the damage done living in a culture unable to support the awakening of our power and sexuality? How many of us have to adopt mindfulness techniques worthy of Thich Nhat Hanh just to hold the excruciating tension of the premenstruum because the world around us is not yet ready to meet us in our power?
I’m all for taking responsibility for oneself, it’s an essential part of our maturation process. But today I’m tired. I’m tired of feeling like me and the world are in a lacklustre relationship where my partner doesn’t acknowledge my gifts. Today, I’m tired of spending nights stroking my own face and hair telling myself “It’s going to be alright, I’ll find a way to support my family financially, while still finding the space to honour my cycle”, even though it feels the wider world couldn’t care less about my fulfilment. Today I’m tired of feeling like I’m taking on all of the responsibility caring for a process that is essentially intrinsic to all of human existence and needs to be supported by all.
This month my descent from Autumn into Winter was tough. In fact my whole cycle has been tough. Last month I was assisting on Red School’s Woman’s Quest apprenticeship. Deep, fulfilling, soul satisfying work that I love and would do a thousand times over. But, it fell in my winter, and a dark moon at the Autumn Equinox. A triad that packs a potent punch. I returned home knowing I needed to recoup physically and process emotionally. I was met by my angry ex partner, who had been looking after our children. He wouldn’t even acknowledge where I had been, his anger toward my cycle is so strong, blaming it for me leaving our marriage. Pop goes the magical menstrual bubble. The transition from such a beautifully held space where I could be seen and honoured in the full expression of my womanhood, out into the everyday world felt dense and heavy with oppression.
Within twenty four hours I was single parenting 2 children off school for the week with the sick bug, then into a heavy cold, a week later the sick bug myself. By the time I got round to Autumn I was exhausted. The Critic saw an opening, poking her bony little finger in my deepest wounds. She had me almost convinced I’d brought it all on myself and I was deserving of losing my children and spending the rest of my days alone. I totally brought into the shame she was offering and it severed me from the truth that I am worthy of asking for and receiving help, and that there are people who care about me enough to give it. There were tears of overwhelm and shouting as I desperately tried to find the space I needed.
On my day 2 it was my daughter’s special Girls lodge, where she is being mentored on her journey toward Menarche. The teachings are beautiful, all I could wish for, but this month it got me wondering. How confusing is it for her to be mentored so beautifully on her path to womanhood, but to see me struggle so some months? Cue the guilt that I wasn’t getting it right or role modelling well enough for her. Again, I realised I was totally taking on a cultural projection of ‘not being enough’ and having be responsible for it all myself. On her return, I initiated what felt like a conversation of gentle truth. I explained that for along time the wisdom of women’s cycles has been lost, and that we are trying to find our way with them again. I explained that when I have my blood, it’s a big deal for me, that there is a lot going on for me physically and internally emotionally, that doesn’t really match up with the way those around me understand what is happening. And the tears and shouting come, not because she has done anything wrong, but because I often cannot find the space that I need and I feel misunderstood. ( I decided to leave out that the worst part was actually I often feel unacknowledged and that nobody really cares, it felt too heavy for her little world and like an invitation for her to take on that role.) But, I reassured, I’m working on it, and a lot of women are doing their best to create a new way.
With the complete innocence and acceptance of a 9 year old she said ‘I know, we talked about mum’s crying and shouting when they get their moontime today’. I laughed and cried inside simultaneously.
I’m coming to understand a part of myself lately that is often tempted into feeling over responsible for ‘not having done enough to ensure her an easier passage’. It saddens me that she is now coming into her own relationship with a complex and still largely patriarchal culture that does not mirror back to her how special she and her body truly are, and I can’t shield her from that. It also saddens me that part of the fallout of this dysfunctional system we have been operating within is the lack I feel, that sets up an underlying sense of me being in competition with my children to get my needs met, a whole other blog post in itself.
So, certainly no 7 step solution post to the perfect cycle here. Just this months simple truth. I love and value this work, it’s my life. I have witnessed myself and many woman thrive when they connect with the truth of our cycles. I understand deeply that even the smallest acts of love and kindness toward our cyclic selves are creating ripples of change in the world. So today it feels important to name, and allow myself to model, that even with all our combined evolution and awareness, sometimes it still feels really hard. Sometimes it still feels like the world isn’t on board, and swimming against the tide is exhausting. But there is something awakened in me that cannot be extinguished, as may be the same with you if you are here. A deeply embodied truth and wisdom. The voice of the Earth herself and the strength of my ancestors at my back, offering forth their gifts, acknowledging and affirming that through this work we are in deep service to the Feminine and all life. It is vital for our existence. And of course, in front of me is my son and daughter. And that, beautiful, courageous women, is why I would chose the red pill again and again.