[This post is inspired by some discussion in the comments over at Jade's
Once upon a time, I lived in the South. And one of the true hallmarks of living in the South is having extended conversations (sometimes quite personal!) with waitstaff, cashiers, gas station attendants, and other folks you meet in brief, impersonal settings. Such as: The fam went to the Cracker Barrel for some mean biscuits one morning during our recent trip to North Carolina. The waitress of course wanted to know if we were visiting from out of town (yes), if we had flown or driven (flown), if we'd ever been here before (yes, we attended college in the Triangle), which college (Duke), and what we thought of the Lacrosse scandal. Ok, that's going overboard. I don't even want to get into the details of the Nifong situation with my parents, much less the lady at the Cracker Barrel.
But the instance that I will always remember is at a healthy grocery store in Tejas. I was buying a wide variety of healthy fruits and veggies, plus a couple of pints of Ben and Jerry's (like you do.) The cashier complimented my supposed healthy lifestyle, and I mentioned self-deprecatingly that we hadn't gotten to the ice cream yet. "Oh, honey, don't worry about that. Everybody needs it occasionally."
"Yeah, all things in moderation, right?"
"Besides, as long as you've got a regular menstrual cycle, you're doing fine."
All of a sudden, our friendly little repartee had turned into a crisis on my end. I don't
have a menstrual cycle. At least, not a regular one. And I wanted to cry, there in the check-out line. What's wrong with me? Why aren't I normal
My emotions toward my cycle are confusing. I hate the damn thing when it does come. It is evil and I have pretty bad PMS. And yet, there's this belief that I can't shake that its presence represents normality, defines womanhood, shows that my body is functioning. Instead, I can take medications that may or may not restore my "normality" through abnormally supplied hormones. Oh, and to keep my hair from falling out and my blood sugar from doing crazy crap. Is that normal?
Down deep, I know that I'm not defined by my menstrual cycle, any more than I'm defined by my looks, or the size of my breasts, or my (sometimes in-)ability to bear children. And yet... and yet.
Here's more on PCOS
if you're interested.
Labels: femaliness, mindless anxiety