I had my first period before I even had my first health class. I didn’t tell anyone because I did not even know what a period was. I never understood why some women stood at the back of the recreation center where Muslims in my small town gathered while everyone else prayed. I never understood why my mother seemed to buy little boxes of white things every month. It didn’t occur to me that this was something that happened to almost every woman in her life.
I guess you could say I’ve always been a crier. From a very young age, I’ve been sensitive to how people look at me, speak to me, or criticize me. You’re probably thinking, so what, everyone is, but I’m sensitive to an extent that can make me feel weak and can even hinder my day-to-day activities.
Every period story I’ve heard involves either great trauma or grave embarrassment. Girls claim they mistakenly believed they were dying when they first spotted the blood or that someone else noticed and pointedit out to them, scarring them permanently from the humiliation. I had heard it all by the time I was 12.
Growing up in a fairly conservative family in small-town Alaska one might make assumptions about the information and education I received about health, puberty, and sex. Luckily for me, those assumptions couldn’t be further from the truth. As I reflect on my own growing up experience I realize how incredibly lucky I was to have such supportive and understanding parents, friends, and teachers. I was in third or fourth grade when my mom sat me down for “the talk,” which of course made me turn bright red and assure her I had absolutely no questions.