When I was 5, I remember telling my whole extended family that I wanted to be a boy. Boys got to do everything — they played outside longer, climbed trees without being scolded, and they didn’t have to grow a scary set of front bumpers when puberty strikes. One of my father’s cousins (forgot exactly who) told me that it was still difficult to be male. She said:
- Men are responsible for working and providing for the family
- They have to be circumcised around the age of twelve which will hurt like shit (yes, boys in my country have to get it done before puberty to prove their manhood)
- They have to drive
- They have to carry heavy things all the time
I remember feeling doubtful if she was right. But I forgot all about it after someone handed me my hula hoop and I ran out of the house to play. Ah, the glory of being 5 again.
At that time, I didn’t know how WRONG her answer was. It was the 1980’s and not Jane Austen’s era. Women have been working for a living, driving their own cars, and helping their dudes lift heavy things for a while now. We just didn’t invest in the circumcision market.
But we do have something that men don’t: a uterus. And menses every single bloody month until nature decides to take our fertility away from us.
The last week was the most difficult for me. I was a mess and was suffering from weakness, hormone imbalance, and too-strong bleeding. Although it only lasted for four days, it trumps the time I bled for 3 weeks when I was 14 and would be near-collapse after going up the stairs. I was afraid it would affect my health so I stopped working out and dieting, started wishing I had a bottle of white flower, and poor C became my nagging-board for those four days. I did apologize sincerely after it was over but, seriously, PMS is no fun. I very rarely get cramps or mood-swings from it but when it hits, it’s crazy.
At work, I practically lived in the bathroom. I berated myself for not bringing more than one extra pair of pants and counted the hours until I could finally go home. During the weekend, I refused to leave the house and even missed watching a singing contest where a friend entered. I just couldn’t deal with having to run to the bathroom every hour and felt like I was swimming in a pool of blood and cramps. I would cry over the stupidest thing, invent crazy theories that my normally logical self would deem as nonsense, lost a lot of sleep, and wondered if God was angry with women to cause so much suffering that comes back month after month. But, just as C says, it eventually ends.
Because of those crazy four days, I’m back on iron supplements because my hemoglobin count is way lower than it should be. I’m back to eating 0% fat yogurt for lunch, obsessing about my weight, and I’ve taken off the towel from the elliptical machine. There is more misery over the rainbow, but at least I have another three weeks of feeling comfortable. 😀