I learned that a woman's emotions are like a wave from John Gray, PhD, in his New York Times Bestseller Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. I was lying in a hammock on a porch in the middle of the woods in Dahlonega, GA. The porch was attached to a cabin. Don't worry. This part is not a metaphor.
Destin, Florida: white sand beaches, buckets of crab legs, and Super Mario Brothers in the arcade in the lobby at the Hotel. I loved the beach. I wore a bathing suit all the time and my hair was (as usual) fantastic and mermaid long. I sat in the sand for hours, letting the waves of the Gulf wash over my legs, letting wet sand pour through my fingers. Swimming, running, building and tearing down sandcastles. I loved myself at the beach. I loved my parents at the beach, on vacation, our tribe, our pack.
I forgot how to enjoy the beach eventually, was seized with the fear of the sight of my own body. Be it too pale, too thin, too wide, too wobbly, too red, too scarred with psoriasis, I stopped being able to see myself in my mind's eye as anything but a deformed figure, confounded by the covers of magazines, the comments of others, the images in which we all find ourselves drowning on a daily basis.
Or maybe it was the fact that by the time I was in my twenties, my options for swimwear were suits that effectively "hid" my stomach or resembled my underwear drawer, neither of which I felt had anything to do with the original concept behind swimming: physical activity. Maybe it was the fact that, the older I became, the more my choices of ways to present myself to society began to diminish, to bottleneck as the road narrowed for my sisters and me.
Books, films, legends, and tales about life, all words for the ladies limited to the slender path on which slender women, girls with diet cokes, brides and bridesmaids, mothers and wives, princesses and queens saunter through life. As for the protagonists of those stories, let's be honest, what woman can't relate to the story of another man, conquering his fear and striking out on his own, men and women are the same, right?
Women see the world through our own eyes, and we are guided by forces of nature that, I can only speculate, were deemed too frightening and difficult to be talked about. But they need to be talked about.
Over the last few years, I have "come into [my] cycles," as Clarissa Pinkola Estés would say in a book a producer from the Mortified podcast recommended I read, Women Who Run with the Wolves. I've probably talked about it before. Anyway, I came into my cycles because I started tracking my period. All that to say, I got one (ten) of those period tracking apps. And my life will never be the same.
How funny, this little thing, this monthly incident, this "inappropriate" topic of conversation, as a good friend of mine would say, affects every single human being on the planet, not just the women. A period is not just the physical, and the physical is real, exhausting, terrifying, and an all around glorious ride; yes, I said glorious. A period is emotional, visceral, natural. It is not just that few days of bleeding, it's a constant cycle of hormones, instinct, and insight into what makes women, in fact, so very different from men.
I have a transgender friend, a man. He told me it was stark, the contrast between hormonal cycles as a woman and hormonal cycles as a man (and yes, men go through hormonal cycles), that it was easier, but unnerving how different he felt inside as a man.
My body changes every day. I eat, sleep, and think on this cycle, swell into my curves at just the right moment, and experience heightened senses, not because the "right man" walked into the room, but because I am an animal and my body screams to reproduce, to continue the cycle.
For a more...tangible example, along the same topic: I recently started using a Diva Cup instead of my old faithful, since period number two, tampons. It was time for me to stop pretending to be a feminist without always giving myself the option of actually saving my own menstrual blood if I felt like it. If I FEEL like it.
I had no idea...but now that I've spilled it into my hands* and watched my own blood run through my fingers...I deserve everything. Cookies. Cookies and Milk. Cookies and Milk Ice Cream (B&Js). Puppies. Flowers. The sun on my face. The wind at my back. And to wear whatever I want without fear of sexualization, assault, or eternal damnation. I am a warrior. I deserve better.
I already have the moon, though, he and I are kin, controlling the tides together along with every other beautiful woman on the planet.
Now, my life is just riding the waves, and I respect the waves. The crimson waves. I'll say it in the words of a dude, so my dudes can follow me through this one. As thrill seeker Bodhi, performed by Patrick Swayze in the hit action/surf/so much more film Point Break, put it, "Life sure has a sick sense of humor," and he was a surfer. He would know all about riding the waves.
So what does the world look like through the eyes of a woman? If you're not afraid the answer will be too bloody, you can always ask.
*it doesn't have to be so violent, but I haven't gotten the total hang and balance of this Diva Cup business
P.S. Ladies, track your period. Learn your cycles. For apps, try Hormone Horoscope, Clue, anything that isn't pink?