It’s been a tough week. That is all I have been able to articulate to anyone who has asked. Five words that could be unpicked for days before finding the knot at the heart of it all. Or, the Not in my case.
Word play aside, it is time for me to share. As I have mentioned previously I recently connected to an amazing community on Twitter – the #writingcommunity. A group of published established, published new, self-published, not yet published writers and poets who have found, through this hashtag, worldwide connections rooted in hope, empathy, compassion and celebration. The level of honesty, authenticity, bravery, humility and humour breathes fresh, clean air through the often toxic atmosphere of the Twitterverse and for me, has been a profound healing experience.
With support and love from this community I have been able to bring the poem below into the light. It’s the most raw, personal and graphic piece of writing I have ever produced and initially the thought of sharing and exposing this part of my world was making me feel physically sick. However, I still felt a deep push from within me to press publish.
I have often wondered whether this related to a primal creative urge, akin to birth. We conceive, grow and give birth to a piece of art therefore was pressing publish the same as the act of giving birth? For me, this analogy was both hopeful and painful. I have never known the act of giving birth and giving birth to my writing is the closest I will get therefore constantly referring my creative process to birth is not helpful. However the wonderful poet JudeStJude, helped me see it another way. A way that clicked into place something that hadn’t quite fitted before, that sharing my work with the world was a way of releasing the pain and allowing the healing to take place. This explained that deep push, the energetic desire to release, the catharsis needed to move on. The poetic form helped me access the feelings at the point of their creation and bring them out from the dark recesses of my heart into the light of the world. Only then could I find the room again to fill that part of my heart with love.
The poem below is the most visceral example of this. I thank you for taking the time to read my words and invite you to sit a while to consider its meaning. Following the poem, I will continue with some commentary and add the context I have been reluctant to share:
Blood. Yes this is about blood. Vast gobs and globs of blood. Blood, which plays the role of the live-giving hero and the life-taking villain. For anyone that struggles with infertility and/or miscarriage blood is centre stage. Always.
I wanted to write something that portrayed blood in its pro and antagonistic form, and in all its glorious mess. Last Sunday was Mother’s Day. A difficult day for me for the last 10 years but this year more so as I had the worst period of my life so far. I had stopped bleeding in February, and after going through an “am I, I’m not, maybe I am, I can’t be, but then again, possibly, no I’m not, well maybe there’s a chance, no there isn’t, I am not, no I am not, I definitely am not, probably not” for 11 weeks, my period started Saturday afternoon and enter Blood, the villain at its most villainous. And it took over my life completely- raging, screaming, rushing, pulling, thumping its way on set. I could not stay vertical, so it sent me to my bed, throwing some medieval shade on the proceedings.
Then Mother’s Day. The twist in the tale it had been planning all along. Still in bed and only its company allowed as it continued its tirade reminding me of all the times I nearly, could have, and all the choices I had made since it started its supporting role in my life. Every sexual encounter, every silly slip of contraception, every miss, every half-hit, hope and every single second of the moment, I knew, it was not going to happen for me. All told through its gooey, sticky, shiny monologue.
I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you have stopped reading now. Blood, who wants to talk about blood, period blood especially. I certainly have my discomfort with it (the Virgo in me predisposed to hygiene and Victorian buttoned-up values) but this, like my monthly shedding, has to come out.
We don’t talk about it enough. There is a reality to trying for a baby that is cleansed from the narrative, disinfected and bleached out of the story, Blood, blood, fucking great bucket loads of blood. We hate it. It means we have failed. Not only that it means that we have to deal with the mess of it in private, hidden away in our discreet Always sanitation devices, when all we want to do is Carrie-style, show everyone our blood, our pain and say Help me. But no, our society is still carried along (no pun intended) on a current of don’t ask, don’t tell across so many forms of sexual experience that our pain must remain far away from the masses and disposed of carefully in specially selected bins and then incinerated for good measure.
Without expression. Without healing.
I have joked in the last few days to friends that if we lived in a matriarchal society not only would we talk about our periods in general, it would be a standing item on any meeting agenda. No doubt there would be programmes, if not whole channels devoted to our menses, and let alone poems, there would be songs if not anthems with choruses of Blood, blood, blood! But we don’t. Not yet. It is still an “ew” subject. A subtext even. Coded and euphemised. Every woman’s nightmare is that blood makes its presence known, so we make sure never to wear light trousers or skirts, praying blood behaves itself in the workplace, at dinner, in the supermarket. The sense that if it shows up it means we are shameful and dirty.
How did we get there? Why is this most common of common of common experiences never fully been acknowledged, explored…exalted? Because unless it is, women, especially those struggling with fertility issues, will not come forward and share their story, not at its most true, and not at its most powerful.
Thanks to the courage of others before me I can come forward, I can share my story, my blood, for all to shuffle in their seats, to remember, to SEE. And hopefully those of you reading, if this resonates, may write words of your own, bring out your own pain into the light and allow joy to fill the gaps.
If you have been affected by the issues I have explored above please know I see you, I hear you and I am with you right now. If you can’t talk about it, or feel you are not supposed to talk about it, I understand. You are not alone, your pain is real, you are not broken, you are not being punished, you are a beautiful soul that is experiencing a challenging journey the reason of which has not been revealed, and may never be revealed. However you have people with you to pick you up, hold your hand and even sometimes carry you when needed.
Please feel free to contact me below or DM me on Twitter @KirstieWrites. I will be honoured to help you.
With love and healing light