Why the fuck does pain take so long to stop? This is a question that I always ask, but it takes an extra long time to answer when my body betrays me Saturday.
The wound that doesn’t stop bleeding — being a woman — has its monthly physical manifestation, when I feel all of the fury of hell descend upon me in the middle of a radio writing seminar. I clench my stomach as my period begins, all the anger I’ve directed toward my body lately catching up to me in one fell swoop.
You don’t know what it’s like to not want to live, yet somehow still try, until you’ve walked a mile in the shoes of a chick experiencing cramps.
It’s like your entire insides are twisting, punishing you for existing and daring to be able to bear a man’s children. It’s setting me up to be strong someday, to birth a human being into this world.
For now, I practice that resilience with my mind, for if the mind can’t withstand pain the body can’t follow.
But some days… I feel like giving up. And today is the epitome of all of those days, all of the sadness that has locked up my appetite and given me the worst migraines ever.
Pain takes too long to heal, Advil takes too long to work, and I spent $7.50 on something that’s supposed to fucking work!!!
Like prayers. Like taking risks. Like loving. All of that is supposed to help with the pain!!!!!!
Lately, it just seems to amplify it all.
I leave early – me, a workaholic, leave a study session sponsored by the area’s award-winning radio station to improve my skillset – because for once, I can’t handle the pain. I can’t work through it enough.
I run to Walgreens hunched over, prompting glances from the public, and I’m getting flashes. I finally find the Advil I’m looking for and feel relief; nirvana is coming!!
I slam my pills on the counter, while the woman rings them up with a sympathetic glance. She knows what’s going on, while every man walking by had rolled his eyes like I’m crazy.
I am crazy, I breathlessly shouted aloud at one of them, uncharacteristically lashing out, I am in pain, and the least you could do is not judge me, you assholes!!!
I gulp down the small tablet with water, scrunched on the steps of the Trader Joe’s next door.
And feel a pain worse than the one before instantly wash over me.
I groan. Did this not fucking work!?
The pill. It takes a second to kick in, the Internet explains. Okay.
I didn’t grow up taking that many pills. My family believed in ‘natural processes’ healing us all. When I took cold medicine, the pain wasn’t as visceral and stabbing, so I couldn’t track at what point it just went away.
Here, there was going to be an obvious point where I felt better, and it was not working, and I was so impatiently angry. I had to drive home with my entire pelvis on fire, and there was nothing I could do about it but hope that stupid pill was doing its job in the background.
There was nothing I could do but hope, hope I was wrong and that the fucking Earth Mother hadn’t apparently turned her back on me, just as she had seemed to do lately with us stupid poor uncouth apes, based on the news.
I hobbled to my car, searing agony racing through my veins, fuming and upset and shaking like a hot mess.
As I drove, shakily like a drunkard, down I-405, I felt my toes numbing. I felt my hands shaking and cold sweat beginning to take over. It’d been a while since I’d been in this much pain, adding to the emotional state my heart’s been these days already.
Well fuck, I think. This is it. I’m going to literally die of a period, in the middle of the highway, in what must have been the worst week in my life already for a long time.
What a fitting, stupid, stupid end.
I have four tattoos, and they hurt a lot, but I knew the pain would have a definite end. I knew it was for a purpose — beauty, art. Things like that.
But senseless pain has always baffled me. I’m good at hiding my confusion, and this is the darkness I don’t tell others. But lately, I’ve railed at the universe for betraying us all. Keeping us in the dark. I’ve let myself let out hints of true, flailing, depressive despair. It’s horrid.
I haven’t been this manic since I was 9. I know the exact degree of despair I feel right now, because when I was 9, that was the first time I remember feeling incomprehensible pain. I got my period that day, and I actually did feel like I was dying as I saw myself bleeding out from a place I did not know for the first time.
It’s an initiation into being an adult, my mom cheerily chirped at the time.
Pain. Pain and mystery. That’s part of being an adult.
My 9-year-old descent into madness stopped a week later, as if it were never here.
I hadn’t learned about periods in health class just yet as a fourth grader, so I had to go out of my way to ask someone — why do they stop?
The answer is ‘they just do.’
All of that pain was apparently to release a few eggs in me to ready me for a fate I wouldn’t want to experience for at least 2 decades.
I seethed that I, of all the people out there, was a freak. I was a freak who’d gotten her period way too early, when most people couldn’t even comprehend that, and this was going to be my curse. I was devastated.
And I think when I resist and let myself feel like a freak, that’s always been the times my period has hated me most. In the almost 15 years since, we’ve established an OK relationship. But when I reject myself, it seems to reject me right back.
I make it to my apartment somehow, and I fall asleep crying angrily for an endless, endless, long ass hour that pain takes too long to heal, Advil takes too long to work, and the human race takes too long to come around.
I toy with the idea of cutting you off, of saying ‘fuck you for disrespecting me for literally so long, why the fuck do I still even care about you,’ as my rampage against being a woman continues. I compose a text, holding you coldly accountable for every single time I had to bite my tongue so I wouldn’t scare you away with how upset I am when you never text back — worse than if you give me some ‘bad news’ — how upset I am that you trivialize your impact on others and that’s why you think you can afford to ignore someone who cares, and how upset I am that just as with everything right now, I am powerless to stop it.
The pain, the pain the pain. The pain that even Advil couldn’t stop —
I fall asleep. And then the pain is gone.
Just as they can handle the bullshit nature thrusts on us every month, women can also handle the bullshit men thrust upon us every lifetime.
I say that with no bitterness, because I’ve accepted that emotional intelligence — some socialized, some perhaps divine? — comes with costs.
But I am practiced by now with guarding my heart and forgiving when I need to. I am part of a generation of a lineage that has taken your lies, we take your cowardice, we take every single idiotic thing you do and we turn it into love. We see the genuine intentions behind it all. We stop waiting only when we must.
Every girl you loved before me did this too, as everyone who loved other men in other lifetimes for other reasons — until they couldn’t handle it anymore.
Me? I’ve had 15 people die in my short adult life. I’ve learned to fortify my mind and deal with my often fiery emotions. I’ve endured all sorts of verbal abuse that tempers my discernment now. I’m fucking Superwoman, and I trust what my heart sees even if my body doesn’t know if it will matter.
It’s always a personal choice. Maybe over the last two years of going months with unanswered texts, I ‘should have learned my lesson,’ as other people might have. But I don’t think I need to.
We women aren’t foolish. We know when we’re being fooled, and when we’re simply being inadvertently fucked over. We know when you purposely tripped us with your misogyny and narcissism, and we can distinguish when you accidentally did it. It’s been my belief, no matter how horrible things feel in my sensitive womanly soul, that you are the latter and you are a kind man. Your actions just indicate that of a player, a tease, an inconsiderate one — even if I can see your intentions for a better world so vividly.
Seems often that I should give up and blend into the crowd and become all the others who don’t really care to see the real you. To stop inconveniencing you by daring to care when you act like you don’t want me to, yet welcome my praise as if it had been solicited.
Well, fuck you and what your actions — of being unable to even dignify me with a response disrespectfully — tell me.
We women remember the pretty things you’ve said, even when we furiously see them as the plausibly empty promises you’ve thrown, and we turn it into a positive. We look for the human that lurks behind the disrespect, and we keep loving it.
I’m not going to stop giving five shits. But maybe, like your inactions are indicating I should, I’m going to back off and love you in silence if that’s what serves you. Withdraw any physical indications I care until you ask me to come back out of my cave. Hold a small flame in my heart for the only words you’ve ever said you’re a positive force in my life, the only action you took of a beautiful, luxurious dinner with an amazing rooftop and the only night we spent where I inspired you and you were worth caring for in 500 days otherwise of searing, searing cold, cold cold, silence,
So keep coming with your ability to forget. Maybe it’s out of your control. I’ll come back at it with my ability to remember, remember you and who you dream of being even if it is clear to me you are wallowing in not being that —
until one day you wake up brave and energized enough to repay your debts. Or I wake up enough to a better horizon, that exists outside of the dream state we’re all in now.
Until one day, the Advil I’ve taken that is hope, hope for something 😦 kicks in. Until then, I’m impatient, and I’m hurt, and I’m in agony for a miracle that’s on more than you — but really, on the universe.