the first time i got my period, the blood flooded to my cheeks, the same way it flowed between my legs. i was ashamed. i called out to god in a voice that was like fire, fueled by the deepest sense of betrayal. i felt dirty. i couldn’t understand what i had done to deserve being born into the body of a messy monster, one that ached and stained and darkened. that was the day i broke into myself for the first time. the weight of my body became an invisible burden on my shoulders that caused them to hunch over and my gaze to lower. we never talked about it and i hid the tampons in the bottom, bathroom drawer.
it has taken me years to realize that this body is not a dirty secret, not a sin, not a weakness, but a miracle. it is a compilation of life, of death, of survival, and of beauty. to realize that her chaos, her mess, her stains and aches are evidence that she is a warrior.
and these days, the shame still stings as it heals slowly. i stretch upwards and my muscles creak, unused to the practice of standing tall. but now, i speak to mother earth, with a fire fueled by humble gratitude, honored beyond comprehension to be one of her kin, to be her sister. i open the bottom drawer and place my tampons on top of the bathroom counter.
Lydia Christensen is currently studying Law and Gender and Sexuality Studies as a Freshman at American University. She is passionate about gender equality, LGBTQ inclusion, and reproductive justice. Through her artwork, Lydia hopes to make others feel heard, represented, and validated.