I’ve been sold short many times in my life. Most of us have. However, I do think that the fabrication of my entrance into womanhood was by far the worst lie I’ve ever been told. And I blame Judy Blume. Not because I didn’t get what I expected, but because I didn’t get what I could have imagined in my wildest nightmares. I got worse than that. Ten years later I’d like to talk about it.
Judy Blume told me that when I got my first period I would become more womanly, aware of the world, and change completely. And, if I did a chest pumping motion every night I would lay out some DD’s in a few weeks. But we’ll get to that later after we address the first fully corrupt part of this cursed compilation of lies.
When I got my period, I found a box on panty liners on the floor of my room. Looking back, what the hell, Mom? Any woman will tell you that a panty liner to a period is about the equivalent of a bucket hat in a monsoon. Effective for about the first five minutes, until it gets ripped off by the wind, and you are left scrambling around in the mud and the rain. I was too embarrassed to ask for something thicker. I knew from then on I was trudging into this alone.
By the second day, I was bleeding a lot. Was this normal? I decided the best idea would be to wallpaper my underwear with the liners. I stacked them on top of each other, plastered the back with them, and then may-pole weave-wrapped the rest of my underwear in toilet paper. I had a mummy cast diaper in the shape of underwear. I thought, “she’ll hold,” and went to sleep.
After waking up in a pool of blood to replace my diaper contraption for the fourth time in one night, I remember thinking, ‘this is a lot of blood.’ I do remember being significantly unbothered by it, because at this point I had literally been praying to God since reading that book, that he would bless me with bloody womanhood. I kept on my brave face, and kept reminding myself I was in the fast lane to boobs.
I spent the entire next day in bed, curled like a raw shrimp, on a stack of towels, crying, overtaken by cramps that vibrated pain throughout all of the extremities on my body. I convinced myself these were tears of GLORY. Tears of a strong, mature, woman.
My mom bought me extra thick pads and jumbo tampons. Both boxes were gone in two days. The bathroom was a constant crime scene. My brother was horrified.
On day five, I was getting out of the shower and promptly fainted on the ground. My mom opened the door to the sight of her thirteen-year-old daughter writhing on the ground, naked in a towel, screaming for help, in a pool of her own blood. It was only then did I feel my confidence start to waver. I was ready to go back to childhood after five days in a woman’s body. My mom decided maybe it was time we see a doctor.
It turned out, I was incredibly anemic. Like, ‘really, really, really anemic’ as the doctor put it. They put me on iron supplements and the pill to stop the bleeding, as I literally couldn’t lose any more blood without needing a transplant. After a multitude of blood draws and testing, the doctor diagnosed me with a rare and one-time condition that can’t even be found on google. It explained the extreme bleeding and ear-splitting pain. For about a year, my period was happening inside my body but never made its grand entrance. So, twelve months (or more) of blood drained out of me all at once, in those first six, grueling days.
In my tiny brain, I was more upset that I could have been able to brag to my friends about getting my period a year earlier since I was technically having it all along. I do remember that being my top concern at this point, who cares about a rare disease. Judy Blume told me that being the first one to ‘get it’ in your friend group made you the coolest.
My period made it’s angry, violent arrival and continued to bully me over the next few years. On the morning it would come, I would crawl on my hands and knees to the bathroom, and throw up. I had the routine down. 1/4 of the world’s sanitary products were used up by me. My insides were filled with scrambled, bloody, twisting, demons. It wasn’t until I was out of high school and found a birth control that didn’t absolutely wreak havoc on my body for my period to calm down.
Dear Judy Blume, I demand my money, time, and expectations back. Please write something more realistic, more horrifying, more war-zone-esque. Also, I religiously did the chest exercise, and I’m still waiting for my boobs to come in, you fucking jerk.