Wednesday, April 13, 2016

PERIOD DRAMA



I was watching Sense and Sensibility years ago, with my then boyfriend, when an ovum suddenly detached from my uterus wall, and decided to take some of my womb along its merry way.

“Sweet Holy Jesus” I screamed as I doubled over.

“Honey what’s wrong?” David leans in with his arm around me so protectively that it would have done justice to the immaculately attired and well-mannered Heroes of the Jane Austen era.

“Don’t Fucking touch me you Bastard” I moan through clenched teeth, suddenly having visions of setting him alight.

“Can’t you see what’s wrong? How many hot water bottles and packets of Feminax do I have to have before it dawns on you that Aunty Flo hasn’t just come to visit, she’s signed a lease agreement, now get me a large Toblerone from upstairs and hurry!” My voice sounded so shrill it would have cracked bone china.





David leaps into action and takes the stairs two at a time, delivering the super large triangular chocolate bar with the urgency of an adrenaline shot. I start gnawing on the triangles immediately, it’s moderately calming, I feel like a beached whale, and all the more so as I watch actresses prance around in size zero Empire line dresses, delivering their lines in perfectly upper crust English accents, that makes me want to force feed them the whole pie.

David starts immediately to engage in politically correct language,

“Honey I didn’t realise your cycle was so bad.”

I have a momentary lapse into psychosis and paranoia and visualise killing him while he sleeps. The image is sort of calming. I practice making a few sobbing noises just in case I have to convince the Garda of my innocence later …let’s face it, I’m a hormonal woman, I’d only get three to five years in a low security prison, and my period would at least regulate itself with every other female inmate. I’d probably end up looking sane.

I look at him through glazed eyes, as fresh waves of cramps assail my abdomen, and my mouth fills with bile. For a second I’m tempted to get sick on him.

“My cycle?” I say shrilly and sarcastically, grasping him by the shirt collar “Listen you Tosser, I can’t call in sick three days a month with Man-Flu, I have to go to work tomorrow, and a bicycle won’t get me there, not in this state, I have to stop the pain, get it ?”




He looks completely perplexed, I’m visualising the wording for his headstone. I draw deep, fast, sharp breaths, as a boa constrictor wraps itself around my reproductive organs and squeezes.

“I need Ice-cream” I yell, then simultaneously burst into sobs and cling to him, crying hysterically, like a Jane Austin IngĂ©nue.

David can’t seem to cope.

“Do you want Ice-cream now Honey, with the chocolate?” he says sounding completely out of his depth and looking like I asked him to go buy me knickers at Marks and Spencer’s.

“Yes, yes” I weep as I hold on to him shuddering. He suddenly feels like the centre of my universe, my immovable rock.

“Ok love, I’ll just get the car keys”

“Don’t leave me!” I scream, as every abandonment issue I ever had rises like the high-tide and I drown in emotion wailing.

David’s arms sweep in around me, and he crushes me.“Jesus Christ do you have to suffocate me? Can’t you do anything right?” I yell pulling away, and then immediately go back to crying.

“Honey do you want me to get the ice-cream?”

“That’s not important now, you’ve ruined everything, and here I am going through this for you, in case you ever want to have children you ungrateful Bastard.” I cry, channelling my inner martyr and dribbling chocolate drool.

David paces like a cornered Lion, and his helplessness makes me want to club him to death with the end of my Toblerone.

“And speaking of cycles, maybe you should get on yours and piss off home” I scream as a fresh well of tears dribble down my face, David looks relived that he has his marching orders. I’m gutted, I didn’t want some man on tender hooks, prancing around with anxiety- I wanted a Mr. Darcy, dashing, gallant, completely in charge, brandishing a cutlass and a packet of sanitary towels unashamedly.

Suddenly I have visons of my own funeral, with all my girlfriends in matching black Donna Karan and mourning veils looking completely inconsolable, and each of them blaming themselves for not having recognised sooner that I was a delicate flower unable for the vicissitudes of life.





Later that evening, after David “got on his bike” I go to visit my clothes. I open up the sliding doors and sit into my Robins Egg Blue Silk Ottoman chair, fondly admiring my taffeta green curtains that puddle on the floor and the full length gilded mirror, embossed with faux jewels of hand cut glass. A dinky little chandelier throws out a soft and pearly light, and I clutch the hot water bottle to my abdomen like it’s a life buoy. Yes I converted the guest room into a wardrobe, and I never looked back-it always brings a smile to my lips, it’s definitely my happy space, and I’m now drugged enough to enjoy it, and it’s where I like to ruminate and write.





In the days of Austen, menstruation was never mentioned. Indeed women who were obviously having their period were blamed for souring wine and milk, clouding mirrors, and all sorts of contagions and ill humours. A clever girl of the time would “take leave” of company and quietly wait it out. Gentlemen never mentioned it, and were only moderately more aware of the menstrual cycle when they got married, but have men changed?






Yes; men have changed. I can assault my boyfriend, batter him, cry on him, blow my nose into his shirt, and accuse him of all sorts, but I can’t help but wonder, when it comes to really dealing with periods, are men a little bloodless? And in the midst of hormonal insanity, would they prefer it more sanitary?




Two days later I’m feeling normal again, and I assess the wreck that is my living room. David did indeed “get on his bike” but was texting with politically correct sentences, which once I got over wanting to kill him, I found rather touching, but nonetheless found his willingness to vacate the premises irritating. I had wanted him to stay, couldn’t he have figured that out through the abuse I was hurling at him?




Women of The Austen Era had to be far more reserved of course, and eventually emancipation ultimately opened the flood gates to full-fledged menstruation, but most men still wanted to steer clear. Maybe it’s not so much physical suppurating they can’t handle, and the fear that they might be washed out of the bed like a movie extra on Crimson Tide, but maybe it’s the rollercoaster of emotions they find themselves unwittingly strapped in for that send them running. So is the single-tasking male capable of going through a highly charged emotional period when it’s time for a period?





Is his limbic system- responsible for processing his emotions-albeit one at a time- out on a limb? Does fright turn to flight?

Men as we know, don’t process emotion in the same way, and in the one instance where size does matter, their limbic systems are slightly smaller than a woman’s, so maybe they just can’t help it, it’s how they are built. But during my period I need help.

So I still fantasise about Mr. Darcy, fearless in the sight of blood, sweeping into my boudoir, in those tight fitting white trousers, that makes a girl want to say “Really Darcy, is that a tampon you have in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?” Yes, the only period I really want, is the Regency period.





Notwithstanding, the period drama that happens monthly in my life is also completely cathartic, and after the initial “woe is me” and cramping, I enter a highly creative space in my head, having fully let loose of every repressed emotion and hurt. I feel like a clean slate. Of course it’s hard to remember that mid-flow.





But overall I’m glad, because there’s nothing worse than anger, hurts and resentments building up over time, they cause their own particular set of physical and emotional problems, and I tend to bottle things up anyway, I’m that kind of gal, at least until ovulation, then I just can’t hold anything in, and that’s a really good thing, and as I eventually figured out, there’s nothing quite as therapeutic as calling a girlfriend you can menstruate with ,forget the blokes-it doesn’t pay a gal to put all her eggs in one basket…period. 


Edited by Roland Thackaberry 


Photography by Matthew Reilly 



















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