The following work is written through the lens of someone who has been in a long-term, heterosexual romantic relationship. I have attempted to be as open with my wording as possible to include the myriad lenses we might look through when it comes to relationships. We may be in a relatively new relationship (which has a different feel than a longterm one), we may be in a gay or lesbian relationship, a non-binary relationship, in an open relationship with more than one partner, in a platonic relationship or in no committed relationship, but in close relation with friends and/or family, etc. Each of these relationships provides their own unique lens & perspective, but I can only write based on my own experience. I would love to hear about your experience in your relationship(s) and how it has related to your cycle. The more you teach me about you, the better I will be as a writer & a doula for this work.
Always in Relationship
We are always in relation-ship. There is not a single breath, movement, action or thought that we take that is not in relationship. Notice the next breath you take in…and out. In that one breath alone, you are in relationship with the air beings around you & all of the countless life forms that have shared in this breath with you. The idea that we are stark individuals is an illusion. Our human existence is based on interdependence with each other & with the earth, whether we have decided to be conscious of this or not.
I’m assuming that, because you’re here reading this, you are conscious of your relationships, and how precious and intricately interwoven they are. You are here reading this because, somewhere along the way, you opened up to the idea of being in a conscious and loving relationship with yourself and your womb energy. That relationship with yourself is the most important one because (and you’ve heard this one before) you are the only person that you must live with.
I have always been a really private person; even engaging in this work of womb consciousness has been a really vulnerable exploration for me. I’m not exactly sure where my reserved nature is rooted – maybe in childhood shyness? – but I do know that keeping certain aspects of myself to myself and being very intentional about who I give access to these tender pieces has kept my relationship to me very sacred & intimate. That level of intimacy with myself has then allowed me to be really intentional about my romantic relationships.
Intimate or romantic relationships – those relationships in which you reveal (either all at once or slowly, layer by layer) the tender and beautiful and large and small aspects of who you are to another – are fodder for our soul’s evolution. Other people act as mirrors that reflect back to us our inner self. In intimate relationships, we grow & evolve in ways that are difficult to achieve on our own. Our intimate relationships are not necessarily romantic, nor do they always end happily or gracefully. But all of them are necessary.
In my own experience I’ve found that the more I knew about myself, the more graceful & tender I was in my romantic relationship. The more I uncovered about myself, the less I projected my unhappiness and dis-ease onto the person I hold the closest. It’s too easy to use this person (or these people) as a punching bag when we feel distressed; as an authority when we aren’t allowing ourselves to be self-affirming; as an enemy when we aren’t ‘given’ what we want from them.
Our relationships are not here to fulfill or complete us. Only we can do that.
In my current relationship, I find that, while my partner wants to be all of these things for me, it isn’t his duty to be. So, the more I uncover about myself, the more fluent I become in the language of my cycle, the more I can release him from these responsibilities and the broader our understanding of our Love together can be. In a phrase, my cycle awareness has freed both of us. Here is why & how:
Being in a heterosexual relationship in a culture that has yet to normalize menstrual cycle awareness meant my partner was relatively uninformed about the menstrual cycle. How could he be informed about my cycle when even I had so much to uncover about myself? But one thing was abundantly clear to us both: with every descent into my pre-menstruum, he became my figurative punching bag for all of the criticisms I refused to hold about myself. When I gave too much of my energy away to the whims of others in inner spring & summer, come inner autumn I would feel unfulfilled, disconnected & frustrated with my lack of boundaries. Him & I would get into these explosive & anxious arguments each month because, rather than taking response-ability for my own lack of discernment, it became his job to soothe my discomfort. Not only did he fail to soothe these deep discomforts (because only I can do that), but his attempts to only further entangled me in this illusion I was living in, that cried, ‘If I am feeling uncomfortable, it’s somebody else’s fault!’
This is the opposite of spiritual sovereignty and inner freedom. Once I began to notice the recurring pattern of anxiety & argumentativeness in my pre-menstruum, my awareness alone was relieving. Then, the act of turning the focus of my healing back in on myself was deeply empowering.
I want to be very clear about something here: when I write about taking response-ability for our own inner workings, I am most definitely not saying or implying that your partner is not responsible for providing you with the support that you need on any given day. I am only saying that only you can free you from your own entanglements. Your partner can hold you and provide a stable ground for you to build on when you feel shaky, but he/she/they can never fully place-hold for the self-care we are truly looking for.
So, I dove into this work and I discovered that this critical voice that often arises in the pre-menstruum (an idea first offered by the work at Red School) is an important one that is asking to be heard. This voice arises to reveal to us where we are unfulfilled in our relationship with ourselves (“Did I fully show up for myself this cycle?”) and in our other-relationships (“Do I feel like this person truly hears me & uplifts me?”). And from this inquiry, I discovered something really special about the inner critic and my relationship: feeling heard was all that it/I needed. Rather than projecting my discomfort onto my partner, I learned to harness this critical energy in a respectful way that initiates really important conversations.
But the key to all of this was this: my flip in perspective from ‘I am unhappy & it is the world’s issue to deal with!’ to ‘I am feeling unfulfilled & I am honouring these feelings. I am voicing these feelings with the expectation that you will hear & take me seriously so that we can be closer.’
And this is only an example for one phase of the cycle. Imagine the incredible possibilities of bringing this level of vulnerability & intimacy to all phases.
Lets take inner summer for instance. How is your sexual energy in the ovulatory phase of your cycle? How open are you to expressing this sexual energy, and your sexual needs, either in relationship with yourself or your partner(s)?
I think it’s safe to say that if someone wants to be in an intimate relationship with you, it is important that they honour all aspects of who you are. Not only the bright, shiny & playful aspects that so often arise in the inner spring & summer, but also the dark, brooding, mysterious & critical phases that so often show face in the inner autumn & winter. In fact, if someone truly wants to be with you, I’m sure they would love to honour these dark & vulnerable places in you, if only you would let them in.
In my own experience, my partner has absolutely loved to learn more about my cycle & how honouring it can bring us closer together. I am so grateful for his open-mindedness & willingness to learn more about how I operate. This open acceptance of cycle awareness may not come easily in all of our relationships, however. This will be especially true if we are in partnerships with men who haven’t felt the need to pay attention to the cycle at all before.
You may find this frustrating to read but I have to say it: it is our responsibility as menstruating people to learn about our cycle & then to inform the people we hold the closest about how our cycle affects us & the ways we are consciously choosing to align with & honour it. This level of informed openness allows us to clearly mark our boundaries & our changing needs in every phase of our cycle. We need to understand our own evolving needs first before we can expect the ones who love us to respect & honour those needs.
Lets normalize sentences like:
“I started my period & am in need of rest. Would you mind doing the dishes tonight?”
“I am feeling so inspired & ready to focus on my work, can I talk to you tomorrow?”
“Can I talk to you about how I’m feeling? There are some things I just want to say out loud.”
“I’ve been thinking about you doing [insert sexy idea here] to me all day.”
If you find it really challenging to speak openly about your cycle to the person or people you are closest to, know that this is absolutely okay & is a result of generations of cycle repression. All we can do is our best moment by moment, day by day. Those conversations that are hardest to have are often the most important ones, but bear in mind that only you will know when you are ready & the time is ripe.
As always, the most powerful thing we can do is to speak & act from our heart. It all begins with our own inner awareness. Perhaps our relationship to our cycle will stay there in a personal space but, if you choose to speak openly about your cycle, chances are you will uncover so much space for freedom & greater intimacy in your relationship(s). The trick is finding the courage to be vulnerable, to speak from the heart, to meet our partner(s) where they are & honour where they are with respect, and to hold the intention of cultivating broader experiences of Love within & between you.
If you ask me, raising awareness of the menstrual cycle is so important if we are to be successful partners, mothers, sisters, employees, business owners, and so on. Honouring the ways in which our cycle affects us on every level of our being brings a level of self-respect to our intimate & working relationships that is so dearly missed otherwise.
No longer should we hide the fact of our cycle. Our cycle is a brilliant & Divine design, awareness of which raises the vibration for all life on earth. Never underestimate the power of rediscovering cyclical wisdom for global healing. But it begins with you & it begins at home.
All my Love,