Updated: Nov 10, 2021
When your relationship to your cycle changes
This post is about my journey to letting my partner in to this mysterious place that is the 'moontime', and about how much it surprised me, as a cycle aware woman, to find that this wasn't A Bad Thing.
I wrote this piece two cycles ago and as I approach my next bleed, it feels the right time to release it into the world. I recently had the honour of co-facilitating a workshop called 'Men and the Menstrual Cycle' with Eshana Spiers and we both found ourselves in tears at several points because it was so amazing to experience that some men actually care about the menstrual cycle. They deeply care about understanding and supporting the women in their lives who have this experience month in, month out. The daughters, lovers, potential lovers & friends.
For the past 4 years, since delving deeply into menstrual cycle awareness, I’ve been practicing being alone on my period pretty religiously. Unless I was travelling or my cycle had gone somehow awry from my rigorous planning, I would be in a self-chosen retreat, sleeping, listening to music, perhaps reading, being in nature, and listening to guided meditations or spiritual talks for 2-3 days. And absolutely NOT working. (Yes, I realise I am SUPER privileged as a self-employed person to have this luxury ... and I also have designed my life in a way that allows flexibility. I live in a caravan and don't pay rent, for instance).
Now I found myself in full flow bleed with hot water bottle and all, cuddling up to my partner, who I’ve seen every day since we got together and who I am moving in with in a few weeks. Feeling utterly content and full up and yet empty all at the same time.
Internally, the voices warred with each other relentlessly: “You should be alone, resting, retreating, connecting with yourself, this is precious opportunity you’re missing to go and be guided by your own internal compass …" Wah, wah wah,, on it went and on it went.
And on the other side: “God, this feels good. To be finally met by the masculine, held in a beautiful nest. And I feel so creative and over-flowing and juicy and deeply replete. How can this be anything bad?”
I remembered watching a friend with some judgment when I knew she was ‘on’, sitting on her boyfriend’s lap and hanging out socially in the communal areas of the big house we all shared. She said to me that she didn’t feel she necessarily wanted to be alone during her bleed, and I didn't quite believe her.
After I’d read Wild Power and got involved in the Red School community and did the Women’s Quest apprenticeship, I was a total convert to cycle awareness. I was deeply enamoured of the idea that our bleed time is the holiest of holiest inner sanctum times. I devoted myself to this practice with the dedication and hyper focus that my neuro-divergent brain usually reserves for favourite books, series characters and the biographies of inspirational rock stars.
I guarded this time jealously, even fiercely, from partners, work and friends and typically turned my phone off.
Then, something changed. The last few cycles, as I've entered my early 40's and what Alexandra Pope of Red School calls the 'quickening', I’d felt increasingly bored, frustrated and restless during my enforced ‘retreat’ times. My mind remained active even as my body released the deep exhaustion of the past month. I wondered whether, as I neared the dreaded perimenopause years, if the past 4 years might have been the only experience I’d have of that deep self connection, because I knew that in your 40’s your cycle starts to change.
When I shared the changing experience with the mentors on my women’s embodiment course, they questioned whether the ‘resting and doing nothing on my bleed’ thing was my truth any longer or if it was something I enforced on myself based on received wisdom.
On the first period of my new relationship (after a ridiculously long cycle of 38 days, unheard of in my experience but possibly related to the covid infection I’d just got over), I found myself grumpy, alone in my caravan and feeling neither like company nor like being alone was giving me anything restorative or positive. Yes, I know, we have to go through the emptiness and 'ugh' first, sometimes, before we get to the transcendental unicorn-ness, but really…?
I was struggling to see the advantages of my bleed time as the bliss states eluded me and all I was aware of was grinding cramps and deep tiredness along with a mind that wanted to chomp at the bit with a need for stimulation.
So when my new partner asked via text how he could be of support while I was in my cave, I said he could come round and fix my broken lights. And while he was there, he ended up cooking for me and eventually cuddling me and then I didn't want him to go away.
It was a huge paradigm shift. I’d never before let a man into this intimate place and allowed him to see me grumpy and unattractive, dishevelled and unshowered in my PJ’s and glasses and probably not smelling great.
Turns out the therapists are right and vulnerability is intimacy-fostering. Our bond grew.
The next period rolled around and this time, I could’ve had all the aloneness I wanted. But it was just feeling so good to be with my partner and really, fully, receive from him. I found that I didn’t need to be alone to feel my own energy fully, to sink into the ecstasy of my emptying womb space and that actually, the pain was relieved by having someone care for me and make me more comfortable.
Perhaps I’d been holding to a rigidly masculine way of ploughing on through to the other side, the way I used to with hours of kundalini yoga practice in the early morning and the insane amounts of 7 am screaming during my cathartic phase when I lived at Osho Leela personal development centre.
Maybe I’m now opening to a different kind of ecstasy: the meeting of my openness and deep surrender with a caring masculine presence I could trust, that would not only bring me tea and fill up my hot water bottle but also understand and respect even more deeply what the bleed time brings and what it is, than he would be able to by being kept at arm’s length; why it’s so important to allow space for it, to even guard it.
Ultimately it’s about a somatic testing of truth in the moment, always the moment. Right now, is there tension in my shoulders, neck, stomach, that needs a dance, a wiggle, or perhaps a massage, rather than stillness?
Right now, do I want quiet and alone time or to gently potter with sun streaming through the van windows while my partner cooks?
Right now, there’s no division between receiving from the divine and receiving from my partner. And I’m letting my cycle teach me without resisting the way that evolves and changes.
I feel to share a few of his words here too. “Being allowed in has brought me a lot of understanding about myself and the connection with nature. The difference is, actually understanding what I’m being allowed in to, that reverence of being allowed into your space. It was properly like being invited. I knew it was a really big deal.”
Want to work deeper with your cycle and receive its medicine? Find out about one-to-one sessions and an exciting new 5-week group journey with cacao, ceremony and menstrual cycle magic coming up in March (Early Bird offer till Dec).