A strange word for a strange occurring in the life of a young person. Menarche comes from the men- prefix meaning month and the suffix -arch meaning 'rule' and -arkhé meaning 'beginning' in Greek. Yes that time a girl is introduced to the rule of her newly monthly cycle.
Another rule, after familial rules, societal rules, school rules etc... now my body is in charge and it is letting me know in a big way. Well, that the experience of my menarche. That's how it felt for me. I received little preparation and all I'd known about 'mes premières règles' (literally 'rules' in French) was shared by my father. Not a word from my mother. I can't even remember seeing any pads, tampons around the house.
All I knew was that because I didn't conceive, I'd bleed monthly. End of. Only later, I would receive some more knowledge via school's biology lessons.
I had to revisit that part of my life because I truly felt let down. Ok - maybe with three brothers before me, they've kind of forgotten. Maybe. But I think the taboo around menstrual blood was more the issue.
What I would have loved is: * to have a woman speaking to me about it or hearing women speaking openly about it, gleaning some info AND keep my father's well meaning words. * I would have loved to know that my monthly cycle would influence me in more ways than just biologically. * I would have loved being celebrated for my differences rather than being laugh at by the 'fatrie'.
For me, the lack of preparation had several consequences and the most omnipresent was body shame which triggered a food disorder that I had to deal with well into my twenties.
And I do know that it isn't that bleak for every girl as my encounter last weekend proved to me; I met a young woman and together discussed the subject. It was such a balm to hear that she had received the opposite, plenty of info followed by opportunities for questioning. She said at the time, it felt strange to talk about something that wasn't occurring yet. Now she feels such gratitude for having been prepared for her menarche and a life of living with a cycle.
That is why I am doing this work. As all girls deserve to experience their first bleeds, their menarche in a supportive way that will impact their lives way beyond their teen years.
What is your menarche story? What would you have loved receiving at that time?
I am asking You to reach inside to feel what would be safe for you to share. You are the one deciding. There is no too little or too much. There is simply a story being told and being witnessed.
You may share safely on this page. Men are on this page too as part of my work is to include Fathers in celebrating this important threshold for their Daughters.