How I used my menstruation time to come back home during an emotional challenge
Please don’t come while I’m travelling.
My period was due any day now, and I had to make a long, 6 hour train journey back home from visiting with family and friends.
When I go into my moontime, it’s a strongly mind-altering experience that I need to surrender to. I go deeply into myself and into a state of drifting in and out of sleep, visited by strong insights or ‘downloads’.
I feel tender and vulnerable and want nothing more than to be curled up in my duvet, safe in my own nest. The idea of having to navigate different train stations and the energies of lots of strangers didn’t feel safe or supportive at this time.
So I asked my womb, Please come either before I travel or after I get home.
And she was kind: she decided to shed her lining on the morning after I arrived home.
Communing with my womb
Womb communication is something I’ve been practising actively for about 4 years now. When I need to make a decision, I simply tune in and ask: what’s the best thing for me? The answer doesn’t always come right away, but signs soon start to arrive: seeing a fox cross my path, or a book recommendation from a friend that speaks directly to my question.
Often, it all becomes clear to me at my next bleed. And I’ve also been asking my womb for co-operative timing when I know that I need to feel safe to let go.
What I didn’t know was that I was going to be confronted with a very different challenge at this particular moontime: news that would rock my world and my stability.
While I had been away, my partner had taken himself on a kind of vision quest, driving his little car-van into the mountains of Wales to find himself again. Communing with yew trees and rivers and the calm blue skies of mid-Spring. I was happy for him that he was doing this, after 2 years of constantly being with people, living in full-time community.
But when he picked me up from the station, I felt strangely uneasy and awkward with him - and I knew it was more than just acclimating to each other's presence after 10 days apart.
Soon, I knew why. As we drove along the winding country roads of Wales, he told me that he wanted to continue his adventure. Alone.
To leave the smallholding that was our temporary home and go on the road indefinitely. “All the time I used to live on the road, before we met, I was looking for someone to be with. Now I feel totally OK on my own.”
Even as I reeled from this sentence, he explained that there was a possibility that I could come along, but he didn’t know if my heavy caravan would be safe to tow in those mountains. It wasn't much of an assurance. My stomach plummeted and the tears began to run rivers down my cheeks.
The Vulnerability of the Void
I was in the ‘Void’, the space just before the blood flows: paper-thin in my vulnerability. No ground under my feet. I felt my womb cramp and my words abandon me. “What do you want?” he kept asking me. “Tell me what you want to do.” And all I knew was that a tidal wave of grief was overtaking me. I didn’t know what I wanted. I felt desperately lost.
We had been actively looking for somewhere else to live for about 6 weeks now, and the process had been sped up by the landowners giving us notice a few days ago. But now our paths seemed to be diverging: from searching for a new spot together, to living separately. I felt like I was falling into an abyss of terror.
Even as the voice of my inner critic started to tell me I was being pathetic, I knew that I had to feel this and just be with it, with every tenderness I could muster towards myself. I couldn't wait to curl up in bed and at the same time I was afraid of what I would confront there.
The next morning, another stunningly sunny day, the flow of my blood began in earnest. While I was sitting on my sheepskin with my comforting hot water bottle in the sun outside, my partner approached me, saying he needed to tell me something. Usually, he's very honouring of my moontime and gives me all the space I need, so I knew this must be important.
He announced that he was going to go back into the mountains now, and start scouting for a route where we could potentially spend some time on the road together. That he wouldn't be back again until it was time to pack up.
The tears began to flood again, coming from a hard pit in my stomach. “But I’ve just got back here," I protested. "I wouldn’t have come back if I knew you weren’t going to stay. There’s nothing for me here. I could’ve stayed with my friends.”
He was sympathethic, but still responded, “I can’t be here. I’ve tasted the freedom, and it’s going to be a waste of time to be here right now. This will move us more towards possibilities.”
Seeing how upset I was, he offered to stay a few hours longer. Usually, I spend
Day 1 of my bleed on my own, and often Day 2 too. This felt different, because the part of me that wanted to cling on to his love and presence was fighting hard.
Still, I knew that I actually needed to be alone. I was in no space to connect with another human: my moonblood was taking me in and under, and as painful as it was going to be, I needed to let go. And he knew it too: “You just want to be alone, don’t you?” he said kindly. And after a last hug, he was gone.
I've been here before
It turns out that my womb knows exactly when to time her initiations. After he left, I was so open and raw that I could do nothing but let the grief, fear and anxiety rip through me. I had no certain home, and the idea of living on the road – even though I’d done it full time for a year previously – was terrifying. I didn’t feel welcome here on the land I was staying on, and I didn’t feel sure of a welcome with my partner on the road. Maybe he just wanted to be alone forever, like a man of the mountains.
It felt like the ancestral pain of generations was being activated: the pain of wives waiting for soldier husbands to return; the pain of my grandmother who was abandoned by my grandfather in another country with 3 children, unable to pay her way back home; the pain of ancestors who’d been torn from their indigenous lands or lost them to colonialists.
And I realised: I’ve been here before. I remembered when I’d moved out of our shared van-living situation, 3 years before, into a rented campervan in the garden of an acquaintance. After helping to settle me in, my partner left in his own van. My bleed was coming on and he wanted to leave me in peace. But I knew that he also didn’t really want to be there.
I remember crying, on my first night in a new place, feeling freezing cold (the heating didn’t work) and startled by every strange noise, judging myself for being so weak and silly. The contrast of having shared the small space of his van (with its generous wood-burner) for a whole year and suddenly being alone was too much.
But within a day or two, I was in the flow of it. In fact, I was loving my aloneness, drifting from soaking up herbalism podcasts I never usually had time for, to lying on my bed staring at the clouds move across the sky. As my blood released, I remembered that I was resourced from within: that I was a powerful being.
How could I have forgotten it?
And this time, too, after he went back to the mountains, and as I allowed myself to feel every bit of the pain and grief and fear without resistance, my moonblood led me to the sweet presence of my self.
To the softness of the thread of connection with a little robin darting in and out of the tree outside my window, to the rise of poetry, to singing with my drum, listening to the river’s meandering silver song. To the gratitude for this moment, right now, fed by the land and the sun and the sky. To the return of my trust that I will find a home, at the right time, in the right place, and the knowing that I am so deeply held and loved by life.
What I've learned through my training as a Menstruality Mentor with Red School is that menstruation itself contains 5 delicious chambers of unravelling and renewal. And the door to the chamber of 'Renewal' is only unlocked once we've fully traversed the chamber of 'Surrender'.
Within hours, messages started arriving on my phone to give me leads of possible places to live. Places that I could now consider because I didn't have to put my partner in the picture: having surrendered the idea of us having to do it all together, my options were now much broader.
I started to feel excited rather than full of dread.
I could feel that being with myself, even for the indefinite future, would be full of blessings, even as I would inevitably also face vulnerability and loneliness.