Day 16 (Week 3)
File under: passion//activism//fiery inferno//guts
Current theme song:
I’m the firestarter, twisted firestarter.
It hits you in the belly. The fire. Welcome to week 3. It’s no secret (at all, ask my partner) that week 3 gets me right in the gut. I recently did one of those new cool tests to explore my microbiome (the bacteria in my gut) and if I had done the swabbing procedure bit during week 3 I’d bet those little microbes would show up like the “Anger” character from Inside Out hopping around under the microscope. And I’m almost positive they’d sound like Lewis Black, too.
Oof. Down, boy.
Being in week 3 means a few things for me: the peppy “good times” gal of week 2 has been replaced by the let’s effing do this mofo of week 3; I can feel a shift in my appetite, attitude (obvi) and my energy level; I am more motivated to kung fu kick stuff off my to-do lists (that’s with an “s”…I am a habitual listmaker) 1. because those things have been sitting there collecting dust for too damn long, 2. that fire knows it.
Years ago, before I knew what on earth my hormones were doing during my cycle, it was week 3 (not the typical week 4 PMS phase) that made me look into it all. I wanted to know why all of a sudden I’d have a much shorter fuse, I’d get impatient easier, and I’d be extra passionate about fighting for the causes I believe in. I was in my early 20s and felt it was about time I figured that out.
Thank the heavens I came across Gabrielle Lichterman‘s 28 Days (stay tuned for more about this book). At the time — 2005-2006ish — it was actually pretty difficult to find some menstrual cycle info that wasn’t medical jargon or the recycled elementary school crap. Yes, I know how a baby is made, and I know I get my period every month, but what happens in between that time? And why do I feel differently at different points throughout my 4-week cycle? And give it to me in relatable terms, please.
What I found out changed my life. I learned that it is indeed a cycle, the patterns I’d been noticing were real, and the menstrual cycle wasn’t just one week of bleeding and the rest not. This, friends, was extremely empowering information. Not only did I start to realize what actually goes in my body during my entire cycle, I could actually use that to my advantage in my daily life, and also be less harsh on myself for feeling a certain way.
For quick visual reference, look at all that hormonal action happening between day 14 and day 21 of the luteal phase (day 14 representing ovulation). No wonder I’m feeling angsty.
This brings me back to Week 3. That fire used to make me cranky because I didn’t understand where it came from, and I would sometimes be hard on myself for being snippy with my partner or getting frustrated and angry more easily. But I learned that these feelings aren’t wrong, they’re maybe just misunderstood, and mis-targeted.
Here’s the truth…the world needs firestarters!
Today, I use the knowledge and channel that fire to conquer tasks however massive or mundane (like finally cleaning out my sweater drawer). I figured out that I don’t need to feel guilty for being angry — it is a valid emotion, after all. And with anger comes passion and the fire to fight for something, whether it’s taking the initiative in your work, demanding social justice, or advocating for a cause like #menstruationmatters.
On this particular Day 16, I’m feeling the burn (or the Bern, I suppose — it is election season. I should note I’m undecided on the Dem front).
PRO TIP: Sure, I have moments when I envision Hulk-smashing my computer because the “Page Unresponsive” window keeps popping up — anything slowing me down and getting in my way is bad news. I’m on a mission! During this time I also have a little more trouble falling asleep, which is weird for me. But I’ll tell you what helps me manage that. Belly breathing. It’s so simple.
Around this time I notice that I often hold my belly tight and my breath gets caught up high in my shoulders and upper chest where tension builds. (Caffeine exacerbates this!) But belly breathing works wonders for relieving the tension and even the frustration sometimes. Here’s a helpful video to show you how. Use this whenever you’re getting huffy and puffy before you go ahead and blow the house down. It helps me fall asleep when I’m having trouble, too.
And here’s one of the best meditations for week 3 and all your days when your bullshit meter goes through the roof.
New readers please note:
The Cycledork Chronicles are based on my 4-week menstrual cycle pattern that lasts around 29 days on average (note: I do not use hormonal birth control). I’ve been keeping track of my cycle for years (even before apps!) and because of this I’ve uncovered patterns that have helped me better navigate my life and become a kinder friend to my body, my mind and my period. An expert I am not, except of my own body and cycle experiences. You may have similar days to mine or your experience may be completely different. My hope is that some of you might be able to relate, celebrate, or commiserate. Or at least get a good laugh as I chronicle my ladyhood. For me, the more I learn about my own body and cycle, the healthier, happier and more empowered I feel. I hope you do, too.
I welcome any and all thoughts in the comments!
Want to better understand your cycle hormones? Read this: Back To The Basics: What Is a Menstrual Cycle?