River of Red

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Cascade Falls, in the middle of the Sawatch Range (Colorado).

When I was a young girl, I’m assuming around the age of 12 or 13, I stopped my period. Actually, I kept it from even beginning. I starved my body, and my soul, to keep it from happening. Without a conscious thought of doing so, I rejected both the soft and powerful feminine side of myself.

 
Sometime during my freshman year of high school, the blood, my river of red, slowly started to flow out of me. It was not a joyous moment. I did not take it as a sign that my body was now “healthy”. I hid it as best I could, save for the missing tampons in the bathroom which I’m sure my mom eventually noticed.

 
Throughout the next 13 years, from being a teenager and into womanhood, I continued to reject the river of red inside of me, keeping it barren and nearly dry. It showed up 2-3x a year, during my off-season from athletics. I dreaded it, but at least it was light, short, and enough to tell somewhat fabricated truth when asked “when was your last menstrual cycle?” by doctors.

 
In my mid-twenties I thought maybe, maybe, I should embrace this feminine part of me. Maybe I could learn to embrace my river of red. As so, I tried reading Dr. Christine Northrop’s book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. I really tried to dig into it, to grasp on to her ideas and research on what she revealed of of the feminine body.

 
In the end, I once again blew it off. I liked not having to deal with the “mess”. Plus, I had never wanted kids. It was like having an extra and free form of birth control. As long as I ran at least 60 miles a week, I didn’t have to worry about it.

 
Then I pushed my body too far. I stopped running. Soft curves, while not significant, appeared on my body, giving me a slightly more womanly figure.

 
I hated it. Though not regular, my river of red began to appear more frequently. Once again, I tried to stop it from flowing. I took birth control, which messed up my already frayed and fragile hormones even more. I was left with panic attacks in the middle of the night, knees bent and rocking back and forth with tears streaming down my face or into Pacer’s fur.

 
I should have realized that by rejecting my river of red, the feminine power within, that I was rejecting a part of myself too. Without all of its parts, one can never be whole.
Even when runner Tina Muir came out with her story a few months ago, as happy as I was for her and that this was being talked about, I was still ambivalent to my own inner spring. Even when Tina interviewed two women on her podcast, Dr. Nicola Rinaldi (author of No Period. Now What?) and marathoner Heidi Greenwood, I still didn’t see the point of having a period. Again, I didn’t want to have kids and was otherwise healthy, knowing that I did not qualify for the female triad and my bone health was just fine (especially because of being vegan).

 
Now and then, I continued to let my mind drift back towards the subject. As usual, my thoughts returned back to Mother Nature. I thought of Her rivers. Powerful and strong, I had seen them flowing through the mountain valleys I hiked through. Her waters were nourishing the forest, responsible for the blooming wildflowers as well as the ancient Evergreens looming above me. Her wild rivers, cool streams, and gentle lakes all giving life to the plants, animals, and humans that inhabited Her land.

 
…except where man has tried to harm her. To poison Her waters and dam Her rivers. “Am I truly unlike those men?” I wondered. Trying to squelch and poison my own river so I can have control, because I am scared of the feminine fortitude that lies within?
I imagine Her raging back against these threats, causing tsunamis and floods in wrath of the injustices against Her.

 
Will I ever fight for my own river?

 
Despite that fact that I am still not convinced of any serious physical consequences, I wonder if my own river of red, my own blood, is responsible for a different kind of nurturing within me. Does it possess powers that can not be seen or even proven by science? (Ironically) My female intuition says yes.

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