I am having my period again for the first time in over eight years.
Let me explain: My doctor recently removed the intrauterine device (IUD) that I have been using ever since my first year in college, when my periods were long and painful. After one particular cycle when I bled for over a month straight, my doctor suggested that I might benefit from hormonal birth control, which would regulate my periods. I tried taking "the pill" but I had trouble remembering to take it every day, and so I switched to the Mirena IUD. About 30% of women who use this IUD will stop having their periods after a few months, and I was one of the lucky (I thought at the time) few.
So now that I don't have my IUD, my periods are coming back. And, surprisingly, I am quite happy about it! I felt a little burst of excitement when I saw blood again; it reminded me of the first time that I had my period, how grown-up and mature and womanly it made me feel. Of course, it's messy, it's inconvenient, and I keep forgetting that I need to bring tampons and pantiliners with me everywhere -- but some part of me is still really happy to be having my period again.
These eight bloodless years remind me of Federico Garcia Lorca's play Yerma, about a barren woman in a barren land who longs for a child but cannot conceive. The whole landscape of the play is desolate, empty, desperate. Part of my life during these years felt like that, too: the part connected with my eating disorder. Many women with eating disorders stop having their period (amenorrhea is still a criterion for anorexia); in my case, it is hard to tell if my period stopped because of my IUD alone, or because of the IUD and the eating disorder. My doctors never knew what to think, either, when I told them that I hadn't had a period in years.
Well, now I know that it was mostly the IUD that was responsible, because as soon as it came out I started to bleed again. I mean, almost immediately -- within hours -- as if the blood was just waiting to start flowing again. But even though I can attribute my barrenness to a medical device, I still feel that the return of my cycle signals another step towards healing myself of my eating disorder, by replacing the desolation of my inner landscape with a fertile course.
What else has been dammed up inside me, waiting to get out?
What sources of creativity and fulfillment have been blocked in my life?
How can I release the pent-up waters and bring bounty back into my life?
I don't have the answers, yet. But I am profoundly grateful for the blood between my legs, for the spring that is rising, and for the irresistible pull I feel towards wholeness, and redemption, and sanity.