It was only recently that I heard the word 'menarche' for the first time. It describes the first time you have your period as a woman. For me it occurred when I was 11 and funnily enough was the only week of my life that my mum was away on holiday with her female friends so I was at home with my dad!
I remember having this feeling of relief actually, that it had now started so I didn't have to worry about being 'the late girl' - like I'd reached some kind of threshold into womanhood and wouldn't be left behind.
My first period was pretty non eventful. I think I told my dad, or maybe my older sister, then used the sanitary towels I'd been given in a 'period talk' class at school and on I went. No acknowledgment, no advice, no celebration, no band playing as I walked into the temple of my fertile years. Just a bit of blood in my knickers and now a bleached sanitary towel to go with it.
The thought of a celebration might seem comical to people reading this, but in some cultures, that's actually what happens! Family, friends and communities gather to celebrate this rite of passage that every young girl encounters. In our society however, it passes by unnoticed and for some girls can be a very traumatic experience.
During my recent womb yoga training we did an exercise where we wrote a letter to the girl we were at the time of menarche. Saying all of the things we'd wish we'd known or wish had been said to us, by our mum or sister, or teacher or friend etc. Just any advice or just an acknowledgment of what this sacred time is and how to handle our menstruation.
This practice was so powerful that I incorporated it into the womb yoga workshop I held this past weekend and if you're reading this then I invite you to do the same.
Our first bleed and how we relate to it creates an imprint for what's to come from our menstruation and the language we hear around our cycle can set us up for a lifetime or ease or equally a lifetime of disconnection and shame.
What if the females in your life described their menstruation as difficult, shameful or a curse to women? Then of course that's the narrative you'll carry through to your own experience. This happens often these days as so many women suffer as a result of their menstrual health.
But that doesn't need to be the case. We CAN re write our story of menarche and of each cycle to follow.
By acknowledging the maiden you were and giving her the advice you wished you received, you can rewrite that experience and transmute it into a powerful and beautiful transition.