How ditching my birth control was a journey to feminine freedom.

From a young age I internalized the language that periods are a terrible time of the month for women. I felt that I should be disgusted by my period and always felt grossed out by the blood between my legs. I was taught that talking about “that time of the month” should be done by making degrading comments about my own body and that “period talk” wasn’t proper conversation in most circles. I was taught that men would find “period sex” disgusting and therefore I could use “that time of the month” as an excuse for not having sex. I believed my doctors and elders when they told me that I should be on birth control to help “regulate my periods” and when that didn’t work to calm my monthly symptoms I was put on birth control to stop my periods completely. And over the years I listened to women tell me how “lucky” I was to not have a period at all and I believed the hype into college that birth control was my ticket to freedom and my way of taking control back over my own body.

But they were wrong.

How many women reading this right now can relate?

I was put on birth control shortly after getting my period at the age of 12 because I had similar symptoms to my mother and my periods were so heavy, so random, and so painful that I would miss school monthly. After they tried almost all forms of birth control from the pill, to the ring, to the shot we finally settled on the Depo Provera shot throughout high school and university. When I moved overseas I got the Nexplanon implant in my arm as it promised 3 years. What my doctors failed to realize is that there was a huge connection between hormonal birth control and migraines. I started getting crippling migraines when I was 12. Coincidence? I think not.

But no one saw these connections, not even my doctors, until I started doing my own research into migraines and birth control. Then I started researching birth control and I started to realize that maybe, I needed to give my body a chance to normalize on its own. At 26 years old I went off birth control but before I did that I researched hormone balance and naturopathy and realized that I needed to heal my body and my hormones from the inside-out. I prepared for the worst- breakouts, mood swings, weight gain/loss and everything else that came along with removing such strong chemical hormones from our bodies. I started taking herbs to regulate my hormones and my cycles. I started monitoring my own cycles using apps and a basal thermometer. I changed my diet and removed all hormones- meat, soy, dairy… These things are all connected you know? Or maybe you don’t, I mean… I didn’t. Basically, I started taking control over my body, my period and my cycles for the first time in my life. The illusion of control that I had been lured into believing I had was fading fast. I knew now that I had been tricked.

I had been tricked into believing the shame surrounding my period. I had been put on birth control and disconnected from the very essence of my femininity, my intuition and my power. I had been told that because I had a disease that was similar to my mother’s we should use birth control as a “preventative” instead of trying to get to the root of the condition. And after 14 years on birth control I decided way too late into my adult life to take my health into my own hands and let me tell you, it was terrible! My mood swings came, my skin was worse than when I was a teen, my appetite suffered, and I almost went back on birth control for fear of these symptoms being permanent! So many women try to get off it but cannot deal with the months of side affects and instead choose to go back on. It’s a trap! But I was prepared and I kept going with the help of a clean diet and food journaling I was determined to come out on the other side.

And I did!

About 4 months later the veil lifted, and when I say “the veil lifted”, I mean that I came out of a mental fog I had lived in my entire adult life without even noticing any different because I’d never given myself the chance. I never knew I was supposed to think this clearly or feel this empowered! As my periods regulated and I became hyper aware of all of my cycles I started to use them to my advantage. I started to honor the time of the month my period came as a chance to look inwards knowing that I become highly intuitive during these times. I started protecting my energy while I bled knowing that I am more sensitive. During my ovulation periods I can identify which ovary is now releasing the egg as it changes month to month based off the pain on one side or the other. I experience ovulation cramps and use this time to harness my creative energy as I’ve realized it’s an incredibly powerful time for me. I have learned that I cycle with the moon at exactly 28 days and that when the new moon comes, so does my period, and when the full moon comes, so does my ovulation. As I got more in touch with my own body I started to tap into my own intuition reveling in the fact that for so long I hadn’t even known how to listen to myself.

How had I allowed such a vital part of who I was be taken from me? How had I waited so long to give my body the chance to heal on its own… to reveal parts of myself to me?

I now know that my period is magic and I celebrate the cycles! After 5 years birth control free I have considered going back to it for the “peace of mind” regarding unwanted pregnancy. But I have also decided that “peace of mind” isn’t worth MY peace of mind. I see now the negative ways in which allowing a drug control over the divine feminine is damaging to the psyche- to the power and beauty that women are. I see birth control as a way of controlling the “wild woman” by teaching her to feel shame regarding her cycle. Going off birth control for me was the first step in taking back control over my own body.

When Native American women were on their period they were brought to a women’s-only hut where they meditated and protected their energy, knowing how powerful they were during this time. Throughout history aboriginal tribes have always known the power of menstruation and menstrual blood- using the blood to garden knowing how rich in nutrients it is, and harvesting the placenta to be used in teas. But bringing this up might have you a little grossed out and I don’t care! If this grosses you out then you too have believed the lies about your own body and you have work to do! If your partner won’t have sex with you while you’re on your period, and you allow that, then you both have work to do! I had to heal the shame I felt around sexuality and menstruation and really dig deep to see the societal conditioning I had internalized. The cycles of our bodies are nothing to be ashamed of and should be openly talked about and discussed. If one more person asks me if I’m sensitive because I’m on my period I won’t react because I know that they too have been duped. We like to downplay women’s power during menstruation by making fun of these sensitivities and calling them irrational because if women saw the power in these cycles and weren’t ashamed then god help us all!

I hold space for myself in a strong way during these various cycles. I use chaste root, kava, turmeric capsules and marijuana to ease my cramps. I also indulge in self pleasure because it’s like an internal massage when the cramps are rough and I’ve learned the power in my own touch. I have found that menstrual cups allow me the ability to see how much I bleed and what the consistency is like from day to day. I am no longer grossed out by this process but empowered by it. It wasn’t an easy journey but if you’re feeling like birth control isn’t serving you, I’m going to go out on a limb and say it probably isn’t. If you think that natural family planning doesn’t work and you’re concerned about getting pregnant then you obviously don’t realize that you have control. Start by educating yourself, then start by listening to your body. You deserve that chance. Trust me, it is the most empowering of journey’s!

I understand that maybe some women “need” to be on birth control. But I was one of those women that was told that I “needed” it too, and when other women spoke out against birth control I fired back because I hadn’t healed my own feminine wounds. I didn’t realize at the time that I had control and when people started telling me I did I was resistant to these “women” because I felt they didn’t “understand”. If I’m triggering something in you and you feel the need to respond or react to what I’m saying, then I encourage you to do some deep listening first. What conditioning have you been taught to believe? And at what point were you told told that you didn’t have control? Oh, that’s right, we’ve been told that our whole lives. Unwanted pregnancy may be scary but if that’s your ONLY block to quitting birth control, then it isn’t a block at all.

The fact that women cycle with the moon, and will start cycling with eachother if in close proximity is absolutely amazing! Do you see how powerful this is? I cannot tell you what’s best for your body, only you can do that, but I hope maybe you can at least start honoring those parts of the month and stop talking negatively about your period or your body during this time. You are amazing! See that! I encourage you to start to track your cycles and at least become aware of how you feel during the whole process. Women’s intuition is strong and heightened during this time- use your power, don’t be ashamed by it. End rant.

 

 

 

But what about the darkness of “good vibes only”?

You see it everywhere these days… “Good Vibes Only”. It’s plastered on everything from restaurant walls, shirts and purses, but we have even gone so far as to start incorporating it into places of spirituality and worship. You hear people say it in yoga shalas and in various other spiritual practices… “Good Vibes Only”.

And as much as I love the idea behind it, I think it’s cute, I own things that say it… I still see how problematic this dogmatic idea of how we are expected to show up. Within spiritual communities it permeates the idea that everything is “love and light” always. It’s not! Telling people things like, “good vibes only” and “love and light” is perpetuating the idea that we aren’t allowed to experience negative emotions, vibes or energy, and if we are feeling that way we most certainly aren’t welcome in our darkness, only in our light.

I think there is power in thinking positively but sending the message of “good vibes only” isn’t honoring the fact that sometimes things just really suck. AND THAT’S OKAY. When negative emotions come up, quite often we don’t want to deal with them, so we push them down or we tell ourselves our feelings aren’t valid, but this is an incredibly dangerous slope- to truly “do the work” you have to acknowledge your darkness, sit with those feelings, and ask where they’re coming from- otherwise healing doesn’t begin and things don’t get worked through, they only get pushed down.

Life is duality. Light and dark, good and bad, happy and sad, everything is full circle and the beautiful part about humanity is that we’re all in it together- no one escapes. But choosing to shame people who acknowledge the dark parts of themselves and actually delve into their shadow work, is problematic and needs to be on the conscious of all healers and spiritualists. In order to know one, we must truly know the other- because pretending like there is only one side is sending the message that spirituality is only for “happy people”.

If we are to move forward and heal past traumas, doing the shadow work is necessary. We are discussing things like “shadow work” now which involves working with your darkness to understand patterns and traumas and “holding space” for others which means to listen and be present for a person in a nonjudgemental way. These things are starting to become more regular topics! I’m happy to see this momentum but want to shed some light on the ways in which this “love and light” and “good vibes only” can be detrimental to growth and evolution of the spirit. Yes, we are “beings of light” but we are also a beautiful embodiment of the whole which involves the darkness.

All great healers had to first do the work themselves to become what they are. If you are in a place of healing or spirituality that makes you feel bad for expressing negative emotions or thoughts, then you aren’t being led by someone who has done the work, and it would be best to find a space where your spirit feels accepted in all of it’s emotions. I think holding space for people has become a huge theme of the year for me because I was never taught to listen without judging, or creating my own opinion, or trying to solve the other person’s problem. I realized now that despite whether or not I agree with someone, if I love them, it is my duty to hold space when I can. I now expect the same in my relationships. I encourage you to do your own shadow work, so that you too can heal yourself firstly. I also encourage you to seek our spirituality that involves both light and dark, that values talking about negative emotions and is able to hold space for you whether you’re “good vibes only” or “bad vibes only”. Wherever you are, you deserve to be met there.