Today I wake up with a familiar ache in my abdomen. And just like every other day of the month when this happens, I feel disgusted. I feel angry. Outraged. Terrified and sad at the same time. A quick slip of a finger inside my pants to check if what I suspect is true confirms my greatest dread, it comes out all bloody and sticky. My sheets are stained. My panties soaked, my sweats wet. My abdomen already having that dull throbbing pain. "No!" I shout as frustration builds up inside me. It's that time of the month again.
Yet... I am too broke to afford pads or tampons or "diapers" as some dumb Americans teenagers call it. I sit in silence. My innermost regions bleeding but I don't care. I think of every other female that has to undergo this every month. Every young girl. Every young woman. Every mother. Every old woman. Every female. I think of how we are supposed to handle this. My mate stirs by my side. She sleeps peacefully, like a baby. A part of her t-shirt is stained by my blood. I freeze not knowing what to do. My thighs feel sticky. A different smell engulfs me. I sniff at my sweats. That distinct metallic stench of blood comes from my nether regions. This is the first time this has ever happened to me. How will I deal with this? I have always been careful. I have always handled my periods with great care. "No one wants to see your blood." Society constantly reminds me.
I have never wanted to feel exposed. You see it's easier to walk with torn clothes in public than to have a blood stained outfit. Accident or not, 'No one wants to see your blood." They say in that ever irritating sing-song voice. They tell me menstruation is normal but they still confine me in "Menstruation huts" where I live in equally terrible conditions." They need me to stay away from "Holy places" and "sacred grounds" and be "cleansed" before I go back to associating with humanity as usual.
They say menstruation is normal but I still get weird looks or lewd jokes when I am buying sanitary towels in shops. They convince me that menstruation is normal and yet they mock me when I say I am suffering from period pain and I need a break. They tell me that menstruation is natural and is something that we can't control yet a normal packet of pads goes for around sixty Kenyan shillings.
I call that
the price of"shedding your insides every month."
The irony of shedding blood after every thirty days. Its a natural process but I am being treated like it's my choice. Like I can choose whether to menstruate or not. Society programmed me to hate my body right from the very start. That's why I am having this deep feeling disgust as I look at my mate gently snoring, oblivious of my inner battle with emotions. What will she think when she wakes up? Will she look at me in undisguised shock and walk away to fix himself a cup of coffee while I lie there, silently crying? Or will she take me into her arms, blood and all, tell me it's alright and help me get cleaned up? A deep feeing of shame engulfs me. I am unable to stand and go take a bath despite the fact that I am shedding lots of blood.
I am pulling at my hair not wanting to deal with being a woman. "It's a burden. A big burden." I whisper into my mate's arms as she hugs me, mumbling comforting words in my ear, obviously startled by my sudden outburst. "What is wrong kitty?" She inquires, her voice betraying his emotions. I point towards my pants and the sheets using my head. She sees the blood and goes still. "I'll be back in a minute." She says as she rushes out of the room. I collapse in bed and cry my eyes our. Tears soak my pillow but I'm too tired to care. Twenty minutes pass. I'm still in bed. My mate is not yet back. I feel angry. I think of other females who go through the same problems. I think of society. "Fuck society." I spit out. They made me hate myself. They made sure I was ashamed of what made me a woman. They destroyed me. They messed me up. Mustering all the strength I can, I head towards the bathroom. I am surprised to find a warm bath already prepared. I scrub myself until my skin is smarting. Even at twenty years of age, I still feel disgusted that I have to bleed every month. Wrapping a warm towel around me, I head towards my bedroom to dress up. Again to my surprise, I find the blood stained sheets already removed having been replaced with clean white sheets. A packet of tampons and pads are on top of my drawer. I decide to use the "diapers" for today. All dressed up and clean, I enter my kitchen to find my mate perched on a stool, a cup of coffee in her hand. She hands me my cup. "thank you." She kisses me lightly on my lips. I smile.
"I am sorry I left in a rush. It's my first time to see period blood that well... Isn't mine and I honestly didn't know how to react so I figured out you might need a bath, some towels, a good breakfast and umh, some time alone." "I love you." I whisper as I run my fingers through her hair. Leaning in to kiss her, I say, "You did the right thing baby." She pulls me into her lap and gently strokes my hair. We sit together, not talking, just maintaining this comfortable silence that we are used to. My mind wanders again I think of all the girls out there. I think of my younger self. I think of how she struggled to make it through puberty, blood and all. I think of women all over the world who still don't know how to handle the rollercoaster that comes with their menstruation. I think of every "me" all over the world. My heart bleeds for them. *deep sigh* I call that the price of "shedding your insides every month."