In my mid-twenties I spent quite a time in anguish around my menstrual cycle.
Partly because every time ovulation came around I mourned deeply for the eggs I was releasing, for the babies I was not having, for the new lives I was not giving, for the pregnancy I wasn’t beginning. Every time I began to bleed I was distraught for the loss.
Partly, for not feeling like the kind of human who gets to be a parent.
As a young person, I had assumed I’d be a parent, probably a young parent, it seemed a given. Physically it felt like something I could do. To find my self disabled and broke in my twenties, at the ‘prime of my life’, living on the margins and financially screwed, becoming a parent was the last thing that made sense for me.
I also had these really big scary feelings towards small, vulnerable creatures- I hated their vulnerability and wanted to squash it or harm it out of them.
All in all, it was a very difficult period of my life.
People laugh about ‘getting broody’ but for me it was a very physical sense of emptiness in my body, it was a hunger to be filled, gnawing ache to be growing. Something felt wrong at a cellular level that I wasn’t pregnant, as well as a yearning for the life of a parent or creator.
And yet logically, I’ve always felt that deciding to have kids is a very political question given the overpopulation and under-resourcing of the majority of people, we’re currently experiencing globally. The want or the feeling of need to have kids surely must be examined.
Around that time in my twenties, and actually for most of my life, my own mother was absent to a further rather than lesser degree.
The mourning for that relationship and the impact the lack of it has had on my life cannot be discounted but, it has never been easily processed. It’s a source of shame for me that I haven’t been wanted or fought for by my parent, I also self-judge that it seems very childish of me to still struggle with this un-mothering.
Now I’m in my mid-thirties and I’m experiencing an anguish pre-menstrually and is again a deep emotional response and a physical emptiness. Thoughts of suicide seems a natural progression at these times, I can’t see reasons to live that don’t include me fulfilling this basic, biological function of the continuation of human life and my family line, and specifically, they are times when I also hate my own body the most.
It’s not that these emotions or issues go away and only surface at certain points of my menstrual cycle, I feel sure they are ever-present but I can only directly notice them at some points.
The wanting, the unspeakable wanting, the wind being knocked out of me by it.
I’ve considered hysterectomies for several reasons in my life, to attempt to regain physical health, to be done with the question of will-I-won’t-I be a parent or be pregnant, and to eliminate some of the seriously punishing effects of gender and body dysphoria.
I wonder what my creative life would be like without a menstrual cycle, the ebbs and flows I experience in the output of my creativity, as well as the emotional impact.
Language here is so loaded, the barrenness of being infertile or not bleeding monthly is such a spectacular image. In the current and historical climate of the UK, a barren landscape is seen as somewhere without life, perhaps moorland or desert, most definitely a wild place, maybe the ‘unexplored’ . In reality those places often harbour abundant life, perhaps underground or nocturnal or just in a unexpected ways, ways that cannot be truly overlooked.
Until I regain, or if I ever do regain, my physical health, the questions of wanting, of pregnancy, of life and loss, of mourning and mothering may still remain unanswered, let alone the intersection of gender dysphoria.
But a life I could live, where I was making my own choices and not my circumstances, is a landscape I’d like to see.