Thursday, August 25, 2011

Working (Or Not) on My Period

Eva Rivera is a proud lesbian Chicana, daughter, sister and sex worker who can walk in 6 inch heels and twirl naked on a pole in front of total strangers but is still viciously afraid of moths. You can catch her more of her here

Today I refuse to work. No glitter, no pink polyester, no hot lights. I am relaxing: reading a good book, calling up friends, and hanging out with my girl. Today is the one day out of the month that I choose not to work because I got my period this morning. When I started working at the strip club and now as a web cam model, I decided that I was not going to work on the first day of my period. I know that I have the privilege of making this decision and it's rare that we can just choose to take a day off. I've never had this opportunity at any other job. But now I have this luxury and I will not apologize for declaring the first day of my period a day of relaxation and reverence. I make some hot red raspberry leaf tea and borrow a good book from the library. I want to give my body this day to replenish and just feel good, because I can get so physically drained in front of that camera. I  work a regular work week- 4 to 6 days a week, 5 to 10 hours a day. I make exceptions the morning or night my period arrives and change my schedule around it.

The decision to work on my period is like a contract with my body. My body will agree to work the rest of the week (tampon string cut so it doesn't show), as long as I honor it by giving myself the first day. And I feel perfectly good with that. I try to respect and honor my spirituality, my history, my mind and my body and this is one ritual that I will hold on to for as long as possible, because it has fed me in a way that is unique to me and my relationship with my body.

Accepting the pain and family legacy of my period, has been a route met with plenty of Vicodin and sick days. The women in my family all have difficult and painful periods, which have required surgery in some cases. A doctor recommended a drug to suppress my period when I was 19, because of my severe pain and everything associated with it. I don't think it's wrong for some people who have periods to want to suppress it for any reason, but my personal experiences with my period left me wanting to keep and grow a connection.  Part of that connection is responding to that voice that tells me what my body craves and needs and desires. The first day of my period my cramps are the most painful, my body is tired and wanting to lay down and relax and no ounce of me desires to work too hard. Before, I was left with two options: call in sick from work and risk being fired, or go in to work feeling weak and in intense pain which has led to me passing out twice. After doing my own research (Doctors just wanted to drug/cut me) and really listening to what I felt my body needed I now am able to control the intensity of the pain most of the time. 

Taking a day off doesn't just serve a physical purpose. I take this day to clear my mind of the clutter of life's stresses. No matter what overdue bill needs paying, what family drama ensues, what chores need to be done I'm doing my best to focus on myself and relax my body and realize that one day off doesn't mean that nothing will get done. This day off is important for me to help maintain healthy stress levels. Anxiety disorders and other stress related health conditions are high among women and run in my family so it's important for me to develop a form of protection and peace within myself. I understand that it's easier for me to take this day off because I don't have children or anyone else to take care of. I do plan on having children someday and I'm sure my ritual will evolve into something that fits my new routine.

My girlfriend doesn't have the same rituals as me but she does find time and ways to honor her body and spirit through deep cleanses for her body, skin and hair and spending the day outside. I think most people have a ritual or just something personal they do to replenish, recover and celebrate themselves and their bodies. What's yours?