Life in Cycles
A woman’s physical life (when honored and intact) is cyclical and in harmony with nature. She runs on the schedule of the moons and seasons. In all of her cycles there is a building, a cresting, a fading, and a stillness. This holds true for her life’s reproductive cycle, her monthly reproductive cycle, the wave and crest of her sexual experience, the wave and crest of her bearing, and the alignment of her body with seasonal cycles.
The dominant culture of assembly lines, clock time, and digitized life often overrides natural rhythms, and can interfere with these cycles. You know that the condition of your skin is not the same, depending on where you are in your cycles—but our product-based manufacturing culture, run on a more linear assumption base, will treat you as static. It’s easier to make and sell things to meet a static need. A cyclical life is more subtle, and has more nuance.
Those of us who have jobs and families and live and love in the material world can’t exactly run our lives on our personal cycles. But we can make minor adjustments that tune us in more closely with the underlying reality of these cycles. We might make the first day or two of our moon time less active and more introspective, taking some extra time for self-care on those days. We might make our peak fertility days of the month the deliberate time for being out in the world, playing and adventuring. We might relearn the traditional stages of the female life, from girl (prepubescent), to maiden (pubescent but not a mother), to woman (potentially a mother) to matron (when the last child is grown)... and create graduations honoring these passages in ourselves and others. Many cultures mark these milestones, but not many people in the west do this in an intentional way.
The thing about not marking such milestones in a community of women is, we don’t know what’s “normal.” You’ll see a lot of “averages” thrown out in women’s health- such as “the average age of menarche is 12.8,” or, “the average age of menopause is 52.” However, these disguise the wild fluctuations in the distribution curve. For example, breast buds in girls can start as early as eight, and as late as 14. The first period arrives as early as nine and as late as 15. First menopause symptoms can start at a wild variation of ages- from 40 to 65. 35% of women experience their symptom onsets between 50 and 54. Sources might tell you that a menstrual cycle is 28 days long- but it can range from 21 to 45 days. You might hear a normal pregnancy is 40 weeks- but anything from 38 to 52 weeks is considered normal.
Find your own rhythm, your own normal. Self love means, in part, overriding the dominant culture and taking care of yourself, and attuning to your own personal biology.