“Womanhood”

HOST INTRO: (0:08)

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they are forced to grow-up. For some, like commentator Elizabeth Brockway, they might be a little bit older when it finally happens.

 

BROCKWAY: (3:30)

 

I’ve always been a bit of a late bloomer. First crush? Late. Getting my first bra? Late. First kiss? Late.

 

But these delays, yeah, they made me feel awkward but not compared to the big late-lateness – getting my period.

 

I was almost 15 and halfway through my first year of high school. And I was still very much a girl. Not just emotionally, though that too. But physically.

 

While my friends had been surfing the crimson wave for months — years! Even  — I was enjoying a prolonged pre-pubescence. My pediatrician was not thrilled, so she suggested birth control pills to encourage good ol’ Aunt Flo.

 

I felt like something was wrong with me. And no one wants to hear that. Especially as a teenager.

 

While everyone seemed so thrilled about entering womanhood, I wasn’t. And why should I be? The only thing I did want was not to be a freak.

 

But then – on its own – my body decided it was time. I became a member of the grossest club of all time.

 

Now, the natural thing was to tell my mom. She’d teach me everything. And she could probably stop me from feeling so scared.

 

That would have been the right move. But far too mature. Staying silent was my plan. Maybe it would go away. But it didn’t. So I caved…kinda.

 

One sunny Saturday morning while my mom was cooking – I went to our kitchen and gave her this warning: I need to tell you something – and you can’t react or make a big deal of it. I’m serious.

 

And then I broke the news. She started to react. And I walked out. Back to my room, where I shut the door.

 

Let me be clear: My mom is my greatest confident. I can tell her anything. And I still feel bad because I know all she wanted was to be with me, her only daughter. Not because it was so wonderful. But because she knew it wasn’t. And she wanted to help.

 

But it wasn’t special or exciting for me. It was awful. And even though I’d had more time to emotionally prepare than many, I still wasn’t ready. And I didn’t understand why I was supposed to be. To be honest. I still don’t.

 

The truth is, it sucks. It hurts. It’s super gross. It makes me even more emotional than I already am. I hate it. Period.

 

There is, of course, the obvious benefit. Should I decide and be able to, this every-28-days annoyance means that I can have children. And I so look forward to the time when this literal pain in my side can become that something wonderful.

 

But as a freshman in high school, that’s not much of a silver lining. And I just needed a minute…or a couple of years… to process it. But now, all these years later, it’s normal to talk about it with my mom. Not all the time. Just, you know, maybe once a month.

 

[start fading in sound of Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2]

 

And I’ll have it as an optional topic of conversation about 300 more times in my life, just as I have somewhere around 143 times already.

 

Yes, I counted.

 

[Sunday, Bloody Sunday/ Sunday, Bloody Sunday/ How long/ How long must we sing this song/ How long, how long…]

 

BACK ANNOUNCE: (0:06)

More than a decade later, Elizabeth Brockway is still searching for a positive spin about this aspect of womanhood.

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