You Pray And You Pray And You Don’t Realize Your Prayer Was Already Answered…

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This post was recognized at BlogU as Term Paper of the Year in Women’s Studies. My BlogU roommate was kind enough to capture the video of my reading. Enjoy.

When you’re nine years old, the Grade School Powers That Be separate the girls and boys into different classrooms and begin an annual ritual of education that continues for several years. Girls learn all about getting their first periods, weird hair growth, and unusual body odor. Boys, I can only assume based on my experience, learn about making fun of girls, making fun of each other, and how to change a tire. I think.

After watching an embarrassingly long video about a girl who played Little Orphan Annie on Broadway and her first period, we were given all sorts of pamphlets to bring home to our mothers, including an order form for a giant box o’ lady things…you know, like a period sampler pack. Obviously, I shoved these papers into the depths of my cluttered locker, never to be seen again (until locker clean out day).

Of course, the mom-network message arrived via telephone a few days later, when my mother called me down to lecture me and cry about how I didn’t talk to her about this very important day at school. “You never tell me anything,” she complained.

In my head, all I could think of was my dad’s favorite line, Telephone, telegraph, tell-a-Nudd. Nudd being the collective whole of my mother, her sisters and her mother. As soon as one of them knew something, the world knew. Mass communication that ran faster than I could possibly imagine—probably faster than the internet. I knew that the minute I told my mom anything, the world would know. And this whole period nonsense? Totally embarrassing. I wanted nothing to do with it…until I was in middle school.

For months, I prayed to get my first period. I begged God to let me be like the other girls. This is the crazy thing that happened when he answered my prayer.

When I was eleven, I was already among the very unpopular, invisible kids in middle school, but my best friend in the whole world was a cool kid. And I wanted to be just like her. I distinctly remember when all of my childhood friends started to get their periods. They talked about it like it was a special club that only girls who had been visited by Aunt Flo could be a part of.

And so I prayed. Like the good little Catholic girl that I was, I said my prayers every night. And I prayed to God, begging and pleading with everything I had to bargain, to get my period and be just like the other girls. Every night a relatively similar prayer would follow the common prayers I learned as a toddler. God, I know you’re a pretty busy guy and all, but if you could please let me get my period, I would really, really be thankful. Also send my love to Grandma and Grandpa…Thanks. Of course, this is reminiscent of a strikingly similar prayer that I would eventually repeat several times throughout the course of college and some time afterward…but that’s another story for another day.

I had, in fact shat myself overnight

Even though we ran in different social circles at school, my friend and I still spent lots of summers together hanging out. Of course, on the nights when I slept at my friend’s house unexpectedly, I found myself sleeping in an old t-shirt, without an extra pair of clothes for the next day. On one particular morning, I woke up and went to the bathroom to discover that I had, in fact, shat myself overnight. I had felt stomach pains the night before, but still I was painfully ashamed of my little mishap. I checked the fold out bed and was thankful that nothing had stained that. What baffled me, of course was how my poop managed to make it to the front of my underwear and hardly touched the ass-end of my panties. I worried for the cleanliness of my lady bits, so I wet some toilet paper and wiped them clean.

Embarrassed and afraid to say anything to my friend or anyone in her family, I wiped my underwear with toilet paper, rinsed them as best as I could, dried them with more toilet paper, and put them on backwards. My thought process? The poop needs to stay on the poop side.

I put the rest of my clothes on and feigned illness to get my mom to pick me up and take me home. For the next few days, I continued to discover that somehow I was crapping my pants with some frequency, without even realizing it. Being the quiet and shy, embarrassed little girl that I was, I did everything I could to hide the evidence. I threw at least 3 pairs of underwear away, spent a lot of time in the bathroom wiping myself and wondering what the fuck was going on with my body.

Eventually, the problem resolved itself, and I went back to life as a pre-teen. We weren’t called tweens back then. I continued to pray to God that I would get my period like the other girls and wonder what it would be like when I finally did get my first period.

A few weeks later, though…it happened again. I crapped my pants. Again. And somehow it kept sliding to the front of my underwear. I couldn’t understand it. Was I sleeping on my stomach? This has got to be really bad for me, right? Of course, a normal kid may have gone to their parents for help…but me? I just kept throwing away underwear and spending a ridiculous amount of time in the bathroom.

The third time it happened, the brown spots were less brown…and more red. And all of a sudden, I knew what the problem was. Apparently, God had already answered my prayers three months prior, and I was cursed with Aunt Flo for all eternity. It was awful.

First, I had to tell my mom. I dreaded this. I dreaded this more than anything in the world. Not because my mom isn’t wonderful…but more so because I was incredibly embarrassed. And ashamed to talk about anything personal. Everything embarrassed me. I didn’t want to talk about things, I didn’t want to know about things…I just wanted to exist, hidden.

When I finally got out of the bathroom to tell my mom that I think I got my period…I failed to mention the last two months of pant-crapping horror. Seriously. She didn’t even know until she read this story.

I mean…No one TELLS you that it might come out brown the first few times. They just say you’re going to bleed from your lady bits. And that’s that. I saw the movie, Carrie. I knew what I was supposed to expect. This was not that.

You Pray

So of course, when I whispered to her, “I think I got my period…” she practically jumped for joy. Of course, for someone who was anxiously awaiting my period the way some moms await their daughter’s first dance recital…you’d think she would have been prepared. I mean sure, I didn’t ask her to order the period sampler pack when I was nine, but maybe a box of pads under the sink just in case? I was eleven, and quite frankly, the thought of shoving something up my lady bits frightened the crap out of me. Just not the period crap. That was different.

My mom hadn’t had a period in years, so she didn’t have to deal with pads or tampons or bleeding like a stuck pig sixty fucking days of the year. So she had to run out to the store to get the things I would need. Before she left, I begged her not to tell anyone. I begged her especially not to tell my dad. Within hours, the entire family network knew that I had become a woman. Including my father.

Eventually, I came to accept the horrors of this monthly curse that I had prayed so hard for. I wanted to be a part of the club, but I realized that the other girls just wanted everyone else to be as miserable as they were once a month. These days, I’m not praying to get my period. Instead, I find myself asking, how long until menopause?

Was your first period even remotely as embarrassing as mine? On a scale of one to awkward, where does this fall? Tell me something painfully embarrassing about your childhood, my friends.

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34 Responses

  1. I was on the same boat as you; I anticipated my period. When I was approaching 12 and everyone around me started having weird stomach pains every month, I felt left out. I checked the toilet bowl after every deed and hoped to find blood in there (I DIDN’T know how it worked; do I bleed one drop and it means I have my period? Do I bleed continuously? WHAT is it?!)

    I was embarrassed to talk about personal and intimate stories with my mum, too, and when I got my first period, I assumed I had shit my pants too. It didn’t take me three months, though. The next month, I realised that I had gotten my period.

    I’m only 17 and I’m already wishing my period away!

  2. Chrissy, here is the final irony (at least for me). After years of cursing and swearing and hating getting my period, and mine weren’t even all that bad, when I stopped getting it I missed it. Not the bleeding, or the mess (does that ever end?) but the rhythm it gave my life for all those years. The way it marked time, and events, and such. I never expected to miss it…

  3. First off, I’m sorry you felt talking to me was so difficult. Fortunately, we no longer have this problem. Do we??
    Secondly, when one has a total hysterecotmy at 32 years old, one initially jumps for joy. No more horrible periods! Then, reality sinks in. No more periods. No possiblity of more children.
    Enjoy it while you can girls, you are only young once. It’s over in a wonderful blink of an eye.

  4. Dude you crack me up.
    First, I was one of the unfortunate girls that got her period early. Me and one other girl in my class were the only one’s…..for quite a few months. And it sucked. I pretty much walked around convinced that everyone KNEW I was on my period. Like it would be super obvious.

    Second, I totally didn’t know about the brown blood thing. I don’t think that happened with me. Because I very distinctly remember going to a baseball game (like a profession MLBA baseball game) with my DAD and going to the bathroom and noticing it when I went to pee that there was distinct pink stuff on my underwear. I proceeded to make a pad out of toilet paper and pray for the best. I remember sitting on my hip because I thought if I sat down straight the blood would soak through the TP and stain my pants and then EVERYONE would know.

    I didn’t talk to my mother about it either and honestly I don’t remember how she found out. I probably psychologically BLOCKED it out of my memory.

  5. Oh gosh. I waited and waited and waited. Like most big milestones in my life, it took freaking forever. I was 13 and a half. Of course, I realized what was up IMMEDIATELY. I mean, I was starting to get paranoid that something was seriously wrong with my lady bits and that they were malformed or malfunctioning. Honestly, though, it wasn’t even a big deal to my peer group anymore by the time it showed up. All my friends had gotten their periods like a year or two prior, so everyone already assumed I’d gotten mine. It had already stopped being a truth or dare question. I was embarrassed to admit how late it showed up. Why am I still surprised when things don’t happen on my schedule? Sheesh, it’s a recurring theme!

  6. Why do so many girls get their periods at slumber parties? Jealous. I always inspected my panties (back when I wore them) after every slumber party and NOTHIN.

    I was a late bloomer. 14. Pretty sure I had cancer. Then I got depressed and didn’t have one again until I was 18 or so. SILVER LININGS.

  7. Ugh, I got my first period at 9! I was the ONLY 5th grader with boobs and a period. The day I started, I was THRILLED. that meant I was a woman now. I called all my best female friends to gloat. And then day two and three and four and five happened, and I realized that this was not so enjoyable.

  8. My first period lasted 1 day and was only a few drops of something brown in my undies. I was at my Dad’s house, 2,000 miles from home and my mother. I could tell my Mom that I murdered someone, dug up our garden to hide the body and shat in the grave so the flowers would hide it and she just would’ve giggled about how thoughtful I was. My Dad’s wife, however, was a total stranger whom I had only met a couple of days before. So I told my Dad first, thinking he’d be cool like Mom, but he literally RAN AWAY before I could even tell him what I thought was wrong. Next thing I know, his wife is outside the bathroom grinning ecstatically. 3 hours of traumatic shopping later, I was fully stocked with every possible necessity and the bleeding was GONE. Not a single drop left to appease the crazy woman’s efforts. I like to think she scared away my womanhood but I felt like a total fraud and didn’t get a full blown period until the next month. After that all I remember is going pee, looking down and screaming “Maaaaaaaaaaaa!” from behind the bathroom door. Good ole Ma took me on a trip around the corner to her bathroom and said “the big ones are for bedtime… use cold water if you make a mess.” I’ve been a shameless woman ever since.

    1. Oh man. That’s so funny. I remember hearing about someone in my family who was a stepmom and totally excited when the daughter got her period at her house. Like it’s an exciting thing for parents or something! And also, I love that mom of yours! But she’s so right about the cold water!

  9. I got my period at a slumber party too. I was 12 and while I knew what to expect (my mom did order the whole kit for me and talked about it….luckily, she wasn’t like your mom and didn’t tell anyone other than Dad), I was thrown. I wanted to go home, thank you very much.

  10. The first time I got mine, my grandmother was visiting. My mother told her and my DAD about it AT THE DINNER TABLE. I wanted to crawl under said dinner table and disappear! WTF?! This is not dinner conversation! I’m still mad at her about it, can you tell? 🙂

  11. I was also 11…my mom was down the street playing Bunko with the neighbor ladies…remember Bunko (the 80’s suburban mom-speak for “pig-out-on-cookies-&-drink booze”?)

    Anyway, I called her and whispered into the phone “I think I just started my period”. Oh, and did I say I was by myself in the house…so whispering was highly important in case my dog was eavesdropping.

    She started off good…very sympathetic, asked if she wanted me to come home. No, I told her I knew what to do…that she could stay there. Then, as I was hanging up the phone (ya know…the kind connected to the wall)…I hear her before she hangs up announce to all the women present that night…”Hey, guess what…*click*!”

    I think I melted into the carpet, completely mortified, only to feel it worse when I crawled out of bed the next morning and my dad (my DAD!) met me at the breakfast table with…”So, how ya feeling?”

    Brilliant…just effing brilliant. Thanks so much for asking! Scarred for life…LOL!

    1. OMG! Why do dads ever need to know?!? I remember my dad saying something to me about it all awkward like (and then saying something along the lines of being really emotional when I was on my period)

  12. Ugh. JUST THIS MORNING, at age 53, I had a uterine blowout. I actually though I was sliding gently into menopause, but that’s clearly not the case. I walked up two flights of stairs in front of several people — none of whom told me. I eventually dragged my sorry self to the bathroom and discovered my super-cute cream and black lace dress had some new additions. I stood in the women’s room, naked except for my bra and sandals, while I rinsed out my clothes. (I work at a newspaper, it was deadline, and I live 45 minutes away. No bueno) I don’t think anything left in my life can top that. Menopause, please.

    1. Oh good lord! That sounds horrifying! I read an article this morning about someone who had one of those blowouts, and it was the last time she ever got her period. Here’s hoping that happens to you!

  13. I was 10 and away at summer camp. I knew what it was. And it was full blown. I too come from a very LARGE RC family. My mom is the eldest of 7 (she has 5 sisters and 1 brother) I remember calling her and asking to come home and BEGGING her not to tell my dad. Of course the telephone game began and by the time I came home I was pretty sure the whole world knew. I was the first of my friends to get it. And therefore became the expert in all things menstruation. (Have you seen HelloFlo’s “Camp Gyno” video? Yeah that was me….) But, Since I am the eldest of the cousins and out of all 13 of us only 4 of us are women. (I’m 37. The youngest, the last girl, is 13…) I was inducted into that weird celebration ritual and telephone game when the other 3 got theirs. Now, my eldest daughter will be 10 next year, and the ritual will continue. I guess it is like a weird family tradition for us. Now, my SIL’s daughter got hers but I couldn’t tell you when because they “don’t talk about that stuff!! shhhhhh keep your voice down!!!”

  14. Unlike so many other girls once I learned what a period was, I never wanted it. I never looked forward to it and just wished it would skip me. It didn’t. Mine started when I was 12 sometime in the wee early morning hours. I had been so sick most of the night before. My stomach hurt so bad that I threw up a couple of times. I stayed home from school. Once my mom got back from dropping my little brother off at school I told her. She gave me a hug, “Here’s what you do!” and went to the calendar and put an X on it. She told me you should put an X on the calendar when your period started. I was mortified. I couldn’t see putting something so personal on a calendar and never did (later I’d catch her snooping my calendar). Then she made me got to school anyway. I was sure everyone knew. I don’t know if my mom told anyone but I know she wouldn’t have told my dad. You can’t tell him things like that. I had the worst periods until I was 18 and saw a GYN to get on the pill. I didn’t even have a boyfriend of a prospect of a boyfriend I just wanted to be safe in case the opportunity presented itself because from a little kid on I knew I never wanted kids. I was so thrilled that the pill gave me normal periods where I wouldn’t throw up and feel like crap for days before it even started. Then I switched pills and had no periods for years and years and years. Then for some reason I had to switch pills again and now I get them again. I still hate them. I’m allergic to something in most pads and tampons so if my period runs long my wahoo swells, turns red and itches. I buy what hubby calls “hippie pads” bleach free, organic cotton, costs a ridiculous amount…. Yep, so that’s womanhood.

    1. I was on the pill partially because of the way it made my periods less traumatic with cramps and puking. Then I found out I could have stroked out on them because of my tendency to get migraines…and went on the shot. Which spiked my weight 30 pounds in 2 months.

  15. I was sick as a dog. I had chronic diarrhea, strep, and all flu symptoms. Really, no joke. About three days into this hell I go to the bathroom to find a pile of brown stuff in my panties. THAT’s how I got my first period.

  16. This is EPIC! Thank you for sharing again all these years later. The memory this brings up for me is realizing that tampons worked sort of like landmines in junior high. If there was a group of boys huddled somewhere, I could throw an unused tampon right into the center of them and they’d scatter like roaches. It was amazing to watch!

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