Guest Post by my apprentice Hannah Groesbeck…
It was right around the time I got my first period, I began to hate my body. Overnight, it felt like my hormones took over my entire body without any heads up. Suddenly, everything about my body was different.
My body changed in shape and size. I started getting acne. I felt crazy and dramatic about EVERYTHING. My boobs hurt all the time. My cramps hurt even more. Menstruating every month felt like a total drag. It slowed me down. It hurt. It was messy…
I always envied the boys around me who seemed to have it so easy. They didn’t gain weight or PMS or get cramps or bleed out of their private parts every month. They seemed so comfortable in their masculine body. I felt my feminine body was a curse.
Because I had so many hormonal imbalances, I was put on the pill. It helped reduce the acne and cramps. But it didn’t change the way I felt about my body. I continued to loathe my body. I thought the only way to feel good in a female body was to look skinny.
I focused on how I wanted to look rather than how I wanted to feel so the fight began between me against my body. I fought her for years with dieting, exercising, drugs, and negativity.
A year ago, I remember looking in the mirror and being so overwhelmed with how much I hated my body, I crumbled to the floor in tears. I was so tired of hating my body, fighting her and trying to make her look a certain way. Deep down, I wanted so badly to love and accept my body. But how???
The message I got right then was to stop working out. Just stop. It was so clear and concise and I was so desperate to change my body relationship that I actually listened. So all last summer, I stopped working out. I just walked and stretched when I felt like it. It sounds counterintuitive but for the first time ever, I surrendered to my body’s wisdom.
During this time, I started getting another message as well. “Get off the pill”. I had a lot of fear about this. I had been on it for seven years. Would I explode? Would all my acne come back? Would I become a monster?
I remembered how hormonal I was in high school. I also recalled that it was around the time I got my period when I started to hate my body. But like that saying goes, “The only way out is through.” Maybe the only way for me to love my body was to connect with the root of why I started hating my body to begin with. My monthly hormonal cycle.
So I continued on this path to surrendering and I got off the pill in September.
I did a lot of research around what to do when you get off the pill. My initial goal was to nourish my body with vitamins and nutrients and focus on consuming a diet that balanced my blood sugar. I started eating more healthy fats and animal protein, I cut out sugar (for the most part :-P), and I found a high-quality multi-vitamin.
I was pleasantly surprised with how good my body started feeling a few months after. My body was starting to cycle again. I was getting a heavier, cranberry red periods each month (on the pill, my period was practically non-existent). I did break out in acne here and there and the cramps came back but it was very manageable. I discovered that when I fed my body the foods it needed, my hormonal cycle wasn’t so scary.
I became in awe of my body through this process. Experiencing her resilience, her cycle, and her healing powers helped me then connect with something even deeper within me. The healing didn’t just come from a B-Complex vitamin or an avocado.
It came from reconnecting with the phases of my monthly cycle: The menstrual phase, the follicular phase, the ovulatory phase, and the luteal phase. When I started to understand what each phase meant for my body, I continued to hear the wisdom my body had to offer me each month.
When I menstruated, I SLOWED down. In doing so, the experience of having a period felt like a monthly ritual. I cancelled my plans for the week. I watched my favorite movies. I got intuitive downloads about my life. I dreamed more. I read in bed. I ate warm stews. I wrote in my journal. My period became my time of hibernation from the world.
Once my moon ended, I felt more energy and lightness overnight. I woke up wanting to move my body and play. I wanted to eat cleaner, go out more, and have fun! My follicular and ovulatory phase became my time of socializing, sweaty workouts, new ideas, and lots of energy.
As I entered my luteal phase, I started to slow down a little more. I noticed things coming up that made me grouchy and irritable. Instead of disregarding these symptoms, I started to tune into what needed to let go in my life. I did more walking and stretching. I desired to be less social and spend more time by myself.
When I started to honor my body and her cycle, I started to feel different in my body. The experience of learning how to honor my body with each phases has helped me connect more deeply with my feminine superpowers.
What once felt like a dreaded curse (my period) became the vessel that transformed my relationship with my body. I now have reverence for my body. She feels so sacred to me. And when I look in the mirror, I no longer cry. I glow with admiration at how good, sexy, feminine, and strong I feel in my skin All because I started listening to body (and stopped fighting her).
All because I got off the pill and started connecting with my cycle. I realize, now, that my cycle is a gift and my body is how I get to experience that gift, every month.