This has been an unexpectedly eventful week for me.
Late Sunday, Hurricane Irma blew through Florida where I live and at the last moment, took aim for my side of the state. The storm rattled the night away with the kind of windy gusts and drenching rain that make you hope and pray that the contractors didn’t cut corners when they built your home.
Early into the storm, like millions of others, we lost power. We were lucky enough to get it back yesterday afternoon. But during those five long powerless days, we melted in the Florida heat (this explains why this southernmost state didn’t experience a population boom until after the invention of the air conditioner), ate as many boxed crackers and as much canned tuna as we could stomach and scrounged for electrical outlets and wi-fi at the few doughnut shops and cafes that had a generator big enough to re-open (but not enough food on hand to feed the throngs of hungry hurricaners who lined up for hours outside their doors).
Once our power returned yesterday afternoon, I literally wept with joy. It meant a return to normalcy–lovely, peaceful, predictable normalcy.
So, when I woke up this morning to find that the air conditioner had broken down overnight and some leak (possibly from the roof during the storm) had created a four-foot wide damp crack in my living room ceiling that’s now threatening to completely break through, I thought to myself, “Why couldn’t our lives just go back to normal?”
Then, I remembered: This is normal. Because normal isn’t perfect.
And, this immediately made me think of our monthly cycles.
A normal cycle isn’t perfect
We often try to do everything we can to have the “perfect” monthly cycle–for instance, we ease menstrual cramps, raise our energy, reduce anxiety and counter premenstrual complaints with as much vigor as we can muster.
While all this fixing and readjusting is a good thing since it reduces physical and emotional discomfort, it can also lead to us focusing on the negative side of our cycles if we’re constantly chasing the “perfect” cycle.
As a result, we might end up complaining more about the problems than taking time to appreciate the benefits, such as cycle days that bring us an upbeat mood, high energy, a sharper memory and greater athletic ability.
And, I think all this focusing on the negative this can end up making some women actually dread their cycle.
In fact, I have a hunch that it’s this kind of negativity that plays a role in some women deciding to take the type of hormone birth control that leads to skipping periods–they think they won’t have to put up with certain bothersome cycle effects that annoy them.
And yet, even those women realize skipping periods with birth control won’t give you a perfect cycle. You’ve got the breakthrough bleeding that happens whenever. There are the unpleasant and often risky side effects to deal with. And, then there’s the expense.
Other women look forward to menopause when all these cycle-related complaints will be over. I’m guilty of it myself. Having menstrual migraines is a challenge. And, sometimes, I find myself thinking about how many more years–how many more cycles–there will be till no more periods that bring on pounding headaches.
But, counting down till menopause is full of false promises, too, because menopause isn’t perfect, either. It’s got its benefits, sure (no more menstrual migraines for one), but there are the hot flashes, lower energy and mental fogginess among other issues.
Making peace with imperfection
This morning, as I was looking up at the crack in my ceiling with a sheen of Florida sweat oozing from my unairconditioned pores, I realized all the joy I had about getting my power back after five days was evaporating.
So, I stopped myself.
I reminded myself that these new snafus I was dealing with were temporary and fixable. (As I write this, the air conditioning has already been repaired and is blowing blissfully cool air on my neck.)
Then, I recalled the five grueling dark days I’d just endured–and how I now have lights and can charge my phone and plug in my computer and the wifi works and the TV turns on. And, we could turn on lots of fans if need be. And, I immediately felt happy again.
Because even though normal isn’t perfect, there’s still usually a lot to like about it.
So, I’m hoping that the next time you get a little down about a cycle-related problem, you can remind yourself of all the good aspects of your cycle that you look forward to and enjoy. And, that this helps you appreciate your cycle no matter how imperfect it is.
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