Creating A Monthly Ritual

Photo courtesy of Monika Andrae

My periods came on 3 days ago and I have been in agony, I have been bleeding heavily and cramping like I never have before.  My body seems to be in a kind of release and I feel amazing.  None of the sadness of not being pregnant is haunting me, I felt it when the bleeding started I greeted it with acceptance and decided that this is happening and it’s here and all I can do is flow with it.

As soon as my 2 week wait started I got to thinking about being pregnant.  A week in and my art therapist who is an amazing spiritual healer told me she had a message from her guides that I was going to be pregnant very soon and had even done a tarot reading for me. The 2nd card she drew was – children.  I felt more hopeful than I had in a long time and I started making those wistful plans.  Would I do a home pregnancy test or go to the doctor for a blood test, how would I break the news to Greg and I imagined the flood of relief and joy that would flow through my body.  Normally I would stop myself knowing the fall is that much harder as your hopes get higher.  But I decided to fully live the fantasy – both of them.  I also made a plan for what I would do if I got my periods, how I was going to react, who I would tell and what I was going to do for myself to make this a positive time in my life.

I recently read a wonderful post at Pamela Madsen’s blog on the rituals that women used to mark and celebrate their monthly cycles.  She explains “In some societies – bleeding women gathered in a special place and did healing and ritual work.” and she invites us to do the same.  To use our periods as a time to mourn, let go and release things in our lives which are not serving us or working for us any more.

I thought about the unconscious rituals I have been enacting every month with the arrival of my period and I pretty much follow the Kubler-Ross text-book stages of grief.  Firstly I deny the situation and believe that I could still be pregnant – so convinced was I during some particularly crazy months that I have done pregnancy tests in the mist of heavy bleeding.  Then I swiftly move onto anger – this is usually directed at anyone in my path, then to God and eventually brutally turned on myself. I would mainly berate myself for having so foolishly believed that I was pregnant.   Then I start the bargaining both with God and myself, ‘next month I will be more relaxed, I will let go and just take it easy’.  I promise all this knowing full well that this isn’t the last time I will be visiting crazy town.  This ebbs into depression and that black hole of questions – What if I never get pregnant? Why aren’t I getting pregnant? When will I get pregnant? And then the final swan song of  ‘I’m never going to get pregnant’.  The last stage of Kubler-Ross’ model is acceptance – which lets face it, I never reach because I go back into the cycle of hope as I get ready to ovulate.

So this month I changed up the ritual, I started with the acceptance – as soon as I saw the first drop of blood I said a prayer for myself and the deep sadness I felt and then I just felt it.  No stories, no questions, no saga. Then I started the process of cleaning house with my body, I thought about things I needed to let go off to be a happier and more grounded person and I washed them away, in the shower, in my meditations and in my thinking.  This month I am washing away the need to be liked, approved, validated and wanted.  There is a lot of debris around this so its an ongoing project but I realised as the blood poured out me how much of my life is based around this – courting being wanted as opposed to focusing on I wanted.

I have the bare bones of a ritual, really at this point just the intention of a ritual but its one that I am going to keep building on.  As women our periods are a special time, as pre-fertile women our periods are a painful time but as the phoenix rises through the ashes perhaps this pain can be used to forge our strength.

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